WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, introduced legislation Thursday that would give states and Indian tribes the option to take over management of wild horses and burros.
The Wild Horse Oversight Act of 2014, H.R. 5058, would preserve all protections under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 and simply allow states to implement horse and burro management plans that address the specific needs of their own state.
“The federal government has never been able to properly manage the horses and burros in the West,” Stewart said. “Every state faces different challenges, which is why it’s important that they have the ability to manage their own wildlife.”
In the 43 years that the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act has been in place, the ranges have been overused, pushing cattle off the ranges and leading to the destruction of important habitat for native, and in some cases endangered, species.
“States and tribes already successfully manage large quantities of wildlife within their borders,” Stewart said. “If horses and burros were under that same jurisdiction, I’m confident that new ideas and opportunities would be developed to manage the herds more successfully than the federal government.”
This bill would allow states to form cooperative agreements to manage herds that cross over borders, and the federal government would continue to inventory the horses and burros to ensure the population numbers as prescribed by the 1971 Act are maintained.
“In an era of fiscal crisis, the federal government just doesn’t have the money to manage these programs,” Stewart said.
- The proposed legislation can be read in its entirety here
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