FRI JUNE 5, 2015
Heber Wild Horses: Legendary Or Problematic?Share
By AARON GRANILLO
Federal officials are in the process of deciding how to manage a population of horses running wild on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests near the White Mountains. Some cattle ranchers in the area say they’re overgrazing range land, and want them removed. Others say they could be descendants of mustangs brought here by Spanish conquistadors, and deserve extra federal protection. Arizona Public Radio's Aaron Granillo reports.
Larry Gibson is a third-generation rancher in Heber. His barn is lined with dozens of haystacks – food for his 900 head of cattle. They also graze in the forest, but in recent years, Gibson says there hasn’t been as much to eat.
"A lot of these areas, you know, we go and measure the grass before the cows ever get there. There may be 80-percent usage before we ever get there," Gibson says. "If the horses have eaten the feed, you can’t bring your cattle up.”
In his own lifetime – 57-years – Gibson’s seen the wild horse population increase exponentially. He pays the Forest Service about $1,600 a month for grazing rights, and feels he’s not getting his money’s worth. Gibson believes there’s one solution to protect livelihood and land.
“So in my opinion, the best thing to with these up here would be remove every one of them. Whether they go to adoption, or, you know, I hate to say it, euthanized or to a slaughter plant," Gibson says. "I mean that sounds kind of harsh, but something has to be done with them.”
Continue reading at: http://knau.org/post/heber-wild-horses-legendary-or-problematic