Whether they belong or not, BLM needs a humane management plan for wild horses


BLM needs a humane management plan for horses

Re: “Colorado’s wild horses need protection from the BLM,” Aug. 14 commentary

Wild horses are an invasive species, no matter how iconic or romanticized they are. I’ve never heard this point argued. Typically when an invasive species is present, an ecosystem suffers. I and many others would submit that this is also true of wild horses in the American West. Mule deer populations are falling precipitously and sage grouse populations are in dire straights.

Carol Walker seems to suggest wild horses should get unlimited resources from the BLM for their management and that the death of a single horse in management is completely unacceptable. I want to ask: What effect does this have on the rest of the ecosystem? With acknowledgment that wild horses are an invasive species, as well as some introspective thought as to how other invaders are managed, perhaps we can come to a rational and workable long-term management plan for this beloved animal.

Carl Judge, Denver

Carol Walker’s sentimental bias toward wild horses misses the larger picture of their role and impact on the ecosystem. Like cattle, they do not belong, period. Unlike cattle, they are not removed or managed by marketplace forces. Like the feral hog problem in the southeast United States, they are an introduced species that lacks any predators, and reproduces aggressively in an unfettered way. Unlike wild hogs, they live in fragile arid environments, stripping forage, damaging soils and precious water supplies and adding to the desertification of BLM lands during climate change. Unlike wild hogs, they can’t be hunted.

Fifty years ago, there were far fewer horses on public lands than we have today. Yes, the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act protects them on BLM lands. Sterilization doesn’t work well, so the only recourse for BLM is removal. BLM attempts to adopt out wild horses, but the supply far exceeds demand. Therefore, tens of thousands of animals are held in long-term holding facilities, and the program’s appropriation for 2022 is $137 million.

If Walker can propose any feasible alternative, let’s hear it. I’m sure BLM is tired of funding millions of dollars to an uncontrolled non-native species so she can appreciate the Western myth of the wild mustang. Anyone can admire wild horses on the range, but they must be managed or eliminated.

Karl Ford, Longmont

There is another dark side to the BLM roundups, one most people don’t know about, and that is some horses end up being processed into food.

Consider between 2008 and 2012, rancher Tom Davis purchased an estimated 1,700 BLM horses through the Wild Horse and Burro Program and sold most of them for slaughter, according to a 2015 report from the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General. Davis’ defense was that the BLM “had to know” that the horses would end up at the slaughterhouse.

A 2019 BLM adoption incentive program to encourage the rehoming of wild horses is fraught with similar problems. Under the program, anyone can adopt up to four horses after paying $125 each and within twelve months receive a $1,000 per horse incentive. As reported by the New York Times, that was incentive enough for Gary Kidd and his family to participate in the program. No sooner had they received more than $20,000 in incentives than their horses were sent to a livestock auction frequented by slaughterhouse buyers.

Legislation is underway to prohibit the sale or purchase of a horse in Colorado if either seller or buyer knows the intent is slaughter. This won’t solve the problems with BLM management, but it would help to protect some BLM horses from being sent to slaughter.

Roland Halpern, Denver

Editor’s note: Halpern is executive director of Colorado Voters for Animals, an advocacy group that works to pass strong animal protection laws.

The IRA highlights Congress’ spending problem

Re: “Congress takes a big step on the climate,” Aug. 14 editorial

You state Donald Trump’s corporation income tax cut in 2017 drove the federal deficit higher.

Per the Congressional Budget Office, 2017 corporate tax collections were $297 billion, 2021 total corporate federal income tax collected was $370 billion.

CBO also shows a chart of all federal tax collections from 2004 to 2021, which rose every year. Our problem is not tax collections or tax rates; Congress cannot control its spending.

Jeff Esbenshade, Littleton

The Post editorial tells us that the title of the Inflation Reduction Act is “ridiculous” because the bill “isn’t likely to reduce inflation.”

It then tells us that the $100 billion offered to green energy manufacturing efforts amidst high inflation “will do some demonstrable good in helping the U.S. transition away from fossil fuels,” not to worry about the 86,000 new IRS agents unless we are tax cheats, and that corporate tax increases and setting drug prices will simply make the corporations pay more or charge less, the kindly companies will not pass the increased expenses on to consumers.

The editorial recalls the Obama/Biden “$80 billion green energy investment, which suffered many failures, including the Solyndra scandal.”

Given all that, it is hard to justify the board’s concluding hope that “Coloradans view the bill as a fiscally responsible step in the right direction.”

When the ramifications of this bill come home to roost, please remember that every Democratic senator (plus Vice President Kamala Harris) had to vote for it, in violation of Covid testing rules, and no Republican went along.

Stephen McKenna, Greenwood Village

Same rules should apply to Trump as to Clinton

Re: “Donald Trump, the rule of law and the demise of civic faith,” Aug. 14 commentary

The theory of our constitutional government is that only one person in the executive branch — the president — has any power. Everybody else is a delegate of the president. Using this constitutional theory, it is true that the president can declassify anything he wants, other than nuclear-related documents.

If the question is, can the president unilaterally declassify materials, the answer is yes. Declassification has arisen with every president in my lifetime, including Joe Biden. Donald Trump has said that, as he left office, he declassified all of the materials gathered in the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. There is no set procedure specifying how a president declassifies information, so perhaps he can do it with a wave of his hand. But he still has to actually declassify the materials, and he can only declassify while he is still president. The president’s power to declassify has never been litigated.

Jim Comey’s summary in July 2016 of the evidence against Hillary Clinton following the FBI’s investigation of her classified email and private server fiasco was devastating and revealed how recklessly she had handled classified and top-secret information. Ultimately, Comey could not find a case that would support bringing criminal charges. The DOJ should apply the same rules and law to Trump that Comey applied to Clinton. That same set of standards should apply to both Democrats and Republicans.

With all the above said, I suspect that many of your readers share my view that this entire sordid matter is more political subterfuge than the pursuit of justice.

Steve Holloway, Lakewood

I have attempted several letters, but the tone turns to anger which, of course, will not get published. Let me try one more time.

I am fed up. Spoiler alert — we’re giving private citizen Trump way too much oxygen. What a narcissistic man. I did not vote for this guy, either time, never will. Personally, what bugs me the most is this: Since November 2016, I have put up with accusations that I am not a patriot, that I am persecuting the GOP, that I somehow am responsible for rigged elections, that I am beating down the rural folk. And I am still hearing it! Meanwhile, the GOP minions march around their corner in the boxing ring, holding up the Big Lie because they have nothing else.

Now, Trump gets caught with his pants down, exposing the tear in the underwear under his tuxedo. And all he can do is position his campaign to make money off of it, from mostly truly patriotic Americans. Truthfully, I am open to hearing new ideas from all you GOP candidates out there. But as a party, with all your antics and double talk, I cannot bring myself to trust the party leaders.

The world has put up with much worse than Trump. Our democracy has not.

Gary Rauchenecker, Golden

They are weapons of war

Re: “The Superior and Boulder AR-15 bans will fall in the courts,” Aug. 14 commentary

Krista Kafer argues that the AR-15 and similar rifles are not “weapons of war,” taking issue with U.S. Rep. Jason Crow’s tweet stating, “I didn’t take my deer hunting rifle to Afghanistan, nor did I take my assault rifle deer hunting.”

In this, Crow is right and Kafer is wrong. The ArmaLite AR-15 and its descendants are directly derived from military weapons and share their characteristics, including pistol grip, short carbine barrel, and a large, quickly detachable magazine. Focusing on fully-automatic fire while ignoring everything else, as Kafer does, misses the point.

Do makers and users of AR-15s understand them to be weapons of war? Yes, they do. Daniel Defense AR-15-style weapons are marketed with photos of U.S. Army soldiers and the headline “Use what they use.”

As a hunter and a U.S. Army Ranger, Crow understands quite clearly the difference between a hunting rifle and a military assault rifle. Evidently, Krista Kafer does not.

Jim Easter, Lyons

Back-to-school vaccines

As a local pediatrician and a school nurse, we want to highlight the importance of parents gearing up for school by getting their kids up to date on routine immunizations.

Immunizations are a safe, effective way to protect children from disease, hospitalization, disability and death. During the pandemic, many children fell behind on their routine immunizations from diseases such as meningitis and whooping cough. This means our communities face increased risks for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.

In 2021, 25 million children globally missed basic childhood vaccines (such as those for measles, mumps and meningitis) that typically are received through routine health services. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, within the first month of the pandemic, routine childhood vaccinations in Colorado dropped about 38%, compared with the same period in 2019.

Higher immunization rates protect vulnerable children who are too young to be vaccinated or cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, making immunizations essential for a safe return to school.

If you do not have a health care provider, you can utilize the Vaccines for Children program (cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/vfc) that provides free vaccines to eligible children.

Together we can give Colorado kids the best chance at a healthy and safe learning environment.

Cassie Littler and Haley M. Houtchens

Editor’s note: Littler is president of the American Academy of Pediatrics Colorado Chapter, and Houtchens is a nurse consultant in the Brighton 27J School District.

Crack down on engines

Excessively loud engines and exhaust systems need to be handled just as polluting air vehicles are handled, i.e., at the inspection stations. These vehicles are dangerous to humans, as is the polluted air.

It’s pretty obvious that this is practically unenforceable by viable police departments, let alone those departments who apparently don’t even have a traffic enforcement division to write speeding tickets. If this takes new legislation, then so be it. Let’s get it done.

Jim Lynch, Northglenn

The future of racism?

After five days of back-to-school substitute teaching for seventh-grade social science and humanities at my favorite “high needs” middle school, my most profound takeaway was regarding racism.

I shared how my all-white swimming pool, where I was a lifeguard for four summers, was segregated and my Alabama high school integrated in 1967. I asked the diverse classroom, “What do segregation and integration mean?” No answer. Is it good or bad that no student knew the definitions that my childhood environment — led by the late Gov. George C. Wallace — taught me?

Mike Sawyer, Denver

About that Manchin deal

Re: “Biden signs climate and health care legislation,” Aug. 17 news story

Sen. Joe Manchin insisted on sane, pragmatic, rational, common-sense, fiscally responsible legislation, but that is not exciting or sensational enough. Still, it was the right thing to do, and that is why he is my hero.

Progressive Democrats criticize him for not having working taxpayers pay for child care and college. Republicans don’t want you to see them crying that their business supporters may reduce the gravy train.

While some may quibble about what is and is not in the legislation, the environmental provisions and making big business pay its fair share of taxes are absolutely essential, and my hero got those in there.

Hassel (Bud) Hill Jr., Aurora

If climate change does anything for us, it bakes away any uncertainty. We no longer have to wallow in the swampy angst of a befuddling forecast. We know that if we don’t act now to curb Earth-warming emissions, we are most certainly toast.

Yes, the Inflation Reduction Act was apparently named by a sleepy bureaucrat. Yes, it had to be compromised for West Virginia’s Sen. Joe Manchin, who believes getting coal for Christmas is a good thing. And, yes, Democrats so far have missed the mark in effectively describing what it does and how. But those are minor lesions in the big and very stark binary we now face: Get on the right side of history and do something, or keep puttering around on the status quo and become history.

Jared Ewy, Littleton

Re: “The Democrats are taking Sen. Manchin for a ride,” Aug. 6 commentary

It is columnist Ramesh Ponnuru who is taking us for a ride. His main complaint seems to be inflation. Yet he fails to mention that one of the leading causes of inflation is price gouging by fossil-fuel corporations. They are making exorbitant and record profits off the backs of working people. He knows that the corporations set prices, not the government, but he neglects to mention that fact.

He also fails to mention that if we moved to an electrified economy based on non-carbon-producing energy, the cost drops for all of us, and employment increases.

Gene Jones, Fraser

A good plan for DIA

Re: “Denver’s airport needs a CEO who will focus on passengers,” Aug. 18 commentary

I applaud Jason Steele’s commentary on the need for Denver International Airport planners to focus on passengers. Having spent a career traveling and navigating numerous airports, I can attest to the chaos and confusion associated with walking into DIA. Aside from escalators, elevators and bathrooms’ illogical locations, the biggest problem is one giant terminal for check-in and security. Precheck involves walking to the far side of the terminal, through a narrow area next to general security, dodging passengers who have left mountains of luggage while trying to grab a sandwich. The security area should be limited to security — not food vendors. Numerous well-planned airports allow passengers to simply arrive at the terminal for their respective airline.

Linda Pryor, Longmont

Loss of Cheney is a loss of reason in Republican Party

Re: “Trump foe Liz Cheney defeated in primary,” Aug. 17 news story

Although it has been a given for some time, the defeat of Rep. Liz Cheney in her primary Tuesday in Wyoming to a Trump designee and election denier is still unsettling.

As a lifelong Coloradan, I feel an affinity for the state to our north and its citizens. I seldom agree with Rep. Cheney on policy and have always found her politics too far right for me. That being said, I am stunned by those Wyoming voters who found her a competent and capable leader less than two years ago but now have made themselves a joke to the rest of the country by choosing to believe a lie and punish Cheney for doing her duty and speaking truth about the attempt to steal the 2020 election by the previous president. She lost this primary, but the ultimate loser is the state of Wyoming and its residents.

Al Schwindt, Littleton

Truth is vital to a democracy. Throughout most of our history, major political parties have agreed on essential truth while differing on how to deal with it.

Today’s Republican Party denies the truth and invents conspiracy theories when the truth is inconvenient. Nothing illustrates this better than the results in Tuesday’s primary in Wyoming. Rep. Liz Cheney was one of the few Republicans brave enough to cry, “The emperor has no clothes!” She recognizes that the lies from the Trump cult about the 2020 election and the resulting insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, threaten our democracy. Despite the repercussions, she was willing to participate in a serious investigation into the events of Jan. 6. She is a hero.

Today’s Republican Party seems intent on maintaining power only to prevent the Democratic Party from implementing needed solutions to real problems (e.g., climate change, tax policy). When Republicans are in power, they deny the truth and fail to develop solutions to real problems.

As we approach major water shortages in the West, surely the Republican Party will come to accept the reality of climate change and propose solutions instead of simply opposing everything the Democrats propose. Surely, they must recognize that corporations and wealthy Americans are not paying their fair share of taxes, putting the burden on the middle class. What we don’t need is a Republican Party whose platform is misinformation and conspiracy theories.

James W. Craft, Broomfield

U.S. needs to plug in to better electric vehicle plan

Re: “Biden signs climate and health care legislation,” Aug. 17 news story

Indeed the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act is remarkable, but a major incentive for driving an electric vehicle is convenience. America must build out a much bigger and better charging infrastructure before most of us make the leap to cleaner transportation.

The act is a start, but only a small start to getting off of greenhouse-gas-fueled transportation. A plug-in source needs to be high-voltage, fast, cheap and on nearly every street corner.

Robert Brayden, Golden

Shocking assault of author reflects unchecked hatred

Re: “Rushdie attacked onstage,” Aug. 13 news story

On Friday, my wife and I were in the amphitheater at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York. We, and a couple of thousand others, were there to see and hear the author Salman Rushdie and Henry Reese discuss the need to protect persecuted writers and, presumably, talk about the current wave of book bannings taking place across America.

No sooner had the moderator begun to introduce the two gentlemen than a young man leaped upon the stage, charged full speed at Rushdie, and began violently stabbing him. The audience gasped and screamed in disbelief. A lack of security allowed this to happen and it took several crucial seconds for a state trooper to take down the attacker and subdue him.

It was a shocking act of violence unlike any I have ever seen.

As a writer myself, I was shocked that the words that Rushdie wrote 34 years ago still engender such hatred in some individuals.

If such an act of violence can take place in such a haven of peace and intellectual discourse as the original Chautauqua, I fear that none of us are safe. One need only look at the recent threats and attacks against our judges, election officials, members of Congress, police and FBI agents to realize that the danger is here and now.

Flint Whitlock, Denver

The violent attack this past weekend on author Salman Rushdie at our sister organization — the Chautauqua Institution in New York — shocked us here at the Colorado Chautauqua, as it did so many around the world. One of the defining values of the Chautauqua movement is the importance of lifelong learning, which requires an open mind and a willingness to have meaningful conversations about a wide range of topics, even when we disagree. In today’s divided world, this type of civil discourse is more important than ever and the Colorado Chautauqua will continue to honor this essential founding principle. In the meantime, our hearts go out to Rushdie, his family and the staff at the Chautauqua Institution.

Shelly Benford, Boulder

Editor’s note: Benford is CEO of the Colorado Chautauqua

How can this school board help our children?

Re: “Board struggling with dysfunction, infighting,” Aug. 15 news story

Brown vs. Black? Man vs. woman? My way vs. the highway? Seriously? Like petulant kids in a schoolyard, some of you Denver School Board members seem to care more about ingrained petty squabbles between skin tones and imagined victimization than protecting and serving actual school kids in our district. You are quite literally the adults in the room. Please grow up or get out and make room for people who are serious about the job.

J. Brandeis Sperandeo, Denver

I don’t know Tay Anderson, but I have known Scott Esserman for decades. For anyone to even hint he is sexist or misogynistic shows they don’t know him at all and are making judgments that are likely due to their own issues. For school board president Xóchitl “Sochi” Gaytán to publicly claim he is both is defamatory and without merit. She clearly owes him a groveling public apology. If she is unable to work with Scott, she is probably unable to work with anyone who does not wholly share her worldview.

Mandell S. Winter Jr., Denver

Dear Denver School Board:

Get over yourselves. This isn’t about you. It’s about our children and their future.

David L. Stevenson, Denver

Golfers don’t need all that green

Colorado is in the grasp of a major drought. Water is a precious resource. Isn’t it time for the people in charge of Denver water resources to stop watering needless grass? The golf courses in Denver’s purview water the areas outside the fairway and greens. It is a needless use of water and should be stopped. Golfers who hit off the fairway or greens will learn to hit from dry, brown stubble. Denver Parks and Recreation could be a leader in this arena. Denver residents are asked to limit their watering on their private properties while the city wastes water on extraneous areas of golf courses. This should cause outrage among the citizens of the great city of Denver.

Cher Tufly, Denver

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