Published: Wednesday, Aug. 20 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT
"Herds should be thinned." Obviously the herds should be thinned, but
this is the part that people can't abide.In the eyes of many,
"thinning" equates to murdering free and beautiful animals, symbols of a
free and untamed America.But it may be true that sending horses to
the glue factory or the dog food plant might be less cruel than letting them
starve. And what's the point in letting them overgraze land that could
otherwise be used by other wild life and domestic livestock.I
suppose technology hasn't evolved to a point where we can just dart horses
with a drug that renders them unable to have offspring . . . In lieu
of sterilizing a good part of them and letting them die off naturally (which
would be problematic and expensive), the "thinning" is going to involve
slaughtering the animals.There's no getting around that.
We've got to be stewards of our environment, just like we have to weed our
gardens to produce fruit. It's our responsibility to be involved in nature,
just letting nature take its course like so many environmentalists would have us
only leads us to having...weeds. Completely agree with the author.
Survival of the fittest and common sense animal husbandry? Yes.
While I believe your concern for the environment is real, your solution turns a
blind eye to the real problem. The few hundred Wild Horses and their ancestors
have been there for Millennia, co*existing with other Native Wildlife. The
problem is that there are too many domestic grazing animals on the range. There
are thousands of cattle and sheep. One Hundred domestic Grazing animals are on
the range, for every one Wild Horse. And they are often grazing illegally on the
Wild Horses' dedicated grazing land, despite drought conditions. These huge
numbers of domestic livestock need to be cut. They are over-grazing and
destroying the land. Science has proven that these Domestic Livestock are the
problem, not the Wild Horses. By Law, those domestic livestock numbers are
supposed to be cut during times of drought. That is not happening, due to both
Lobbyist pressures and this 'Welfare Rancher' sense of entitlement to
Federal Lands. That is the real problem, that Wild Horses are being blamed for.
Hey Laurel Hutch -"These huge numbers of domestic livestock need
to be cut."I understand your point of view, but if you get your
way, aren't we just delaying the inevitable.If every last
domestic animal is removed from Federal Lands, allowing horses to increase in
number, what are we going to do when they've increased to a point where the
grass will not sustain them?They have no natural predators. The only
thing that can controls there numbers is starvation.Should we just
get rid of all the domestic animals, wait a decade or two, and THEN thin the
horse herds?Why not just do it now? . . . And let other wildlife
have a shot at survival out there?. . . And let ranchers run their
cattle there LEGALLY (No Cliven Bundy's).How many wild horses
should we have? A few thousand? A few hundred thousand? A few million?If they become as thick as rats in a dump, they're not going to be
thought of as an ideal of American freedom anymore, are they?
It is impossible that wild horses as opposed to cattle are overgrazing since
cattle outnumber wild horses by a factor of more than thirty to one. It is
impossible that wild horses are overpopulating. Herd size does not double every
twenty years, a frequently repeated lie, as that is foaling rate and half of all
foals die before age one. Under duress from drought andharassment by
cattlemen/BLM, many herds have zero foals born in a given year.
"Holistic" is a buzz word of insincerity trying to imply the writer is
linked to some environmental concern. An ex rodeo queen, a "sport"
predicated on people being entertained by the suffering of horses and cattle, is
not likely to be a sincere advocate of promoting the welfare of horses ! Vapid
rodeo queens may concern themselves about shallow concerns about whether they
think wild horses look like "scruffy alley cats". Real people and real
environmentalists are concerned that wild horses are being managed into
extinction precisely by the insincere sophistry being spouted by ex rodeo
Hey Shane Destry -"Real people and real environmentalists are
concerned that wild horses are being managed into extinction precisely by the
insincere sophistry being spouted by ex rodeo queens."It
isn't sophistry to recognize the fact that wild horses explode in
population if left unchecked.Horses are an invasive species in the
western hemisphere.The Spanish lost a few horses in Mexico the
1500's, and by the early 1600's, horses are so numerous that Indian
tribes on the North American plains have become a horse culture.Thinning horse herds by killing them was a matter of course until the Wild
and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 was signed into law by Nixon.
Arranging for horse adoptions became the preferred method of thinning, but that
method has reached saturation levels.Either a few thousand wild
horses can be thinned by killing them now in the next few years, or we can wait
a few decades and euthanize a few HUNDRED thousand, or just let them starve.Horses certainly aren't going to be driven into extinction.Look, we cannot spay and neuter them like dogs and cats. What other
choice is there?
While I believe that you believe you are concerned for the equines it is a known
fact that Ranchers pay $1.35 per AUM to graze their livestock on BLM and Forest
Service lands, the lowest allowable under law, 1/16th of market rate, thanks to
our tax subsidies. Average monthly lease rates for grazing on private lands in
11 western states in 2011 was $16.80 per head. BLM issues 17,869 permits to run
livestock, authorizing a maximum of 12.5 million AUMs. The Forest Service issues
6,289 permits to livestock operators, authorizing a maximum of 8.5 million AUMs,
a combined total of 24,158 permits and 21 million AUMs or an equivalent of
1,750,000 cows or 8,750,000 sheep. By contrast the government has set a maximum
allowable level of just 26,500 for wild equines. You tell me who is overgrazing
rangelands, not to mention wild horses are scientifically recognized for
restoring range-lands, boosting biodiversity and helping the return of a wider
variety of plants and invertebrates to the lands where they roam.
Overpopulation is a myth created by welfare ranchers to protect their
investments as NAS confirms 10% or less for horses. They simply want horses off
the range - PERIOD.
And by the way Gary O, science has in fact progressed to the point where you can
dart a horse for birth control. There are several methods of reversible birth
control out there but BLM refuses to use them and refuses advocates the right to
use them to manage herds in their areas. They want to perform ovarectormies on
mares and geld stallions. Since 1988, the wild horse population of
Maryland’s Assateague Island has been successfully controlled using a
contraceptive vaccine (PZP), administered via remote darting and does not
disrupt the complex social structure of wild herds which would eliminate the
need for costly and traumatic round-ups as well as save millions of tax dollars,
while ensuring genetic diversity. 70% or our herds are now below genetic
viability thanks to the "management" of BLM. Overpopulation?
For twenty-five years the Montgomery Pass herd, on the California/Nevada
border, have survived unmanaged, and through natural attrition have maintained
stable population levels of roughly 150 to 200 animals through effective range
management. Effective range management, birth control and reducing livestock on
the range would solve all our problems. Don't talk about having to thin
hers when you know don't have the facts.
"The Spanish lost a few horses in Mexico the 1500's" ... Not true.
Read your history. The Spanish deliberately released livestock. They routinely
did that since they were planning to 'harvest them' when they
returned. The Horses flourished on the plains, perhaps because that is where
they had evolved to live. They reclaimed their natural niche in the ecosphere
Cattle flourished in the Southeastern woods. Pigs Spread through those woods
too. Even now, when science has studied the coexistence of wildlife with
Wild Horses, the western wildlife peacefully coexist with Wild Horses, but are
'driven off' by the presence of cattle and sheep. I could post a
scientific source with more than twenty scientific articles to back those facts
up, but this system does not allow me to do that.
Hey Maxlynn -". . . the wild horse population of
Maryland’s Assateague Island has been successfully controlled using a
contraceptive vaccine (PZP), administered via remote darting."Cool!Well there's our solution then.There are
estimated to be over 40,000 feral horses existent in the Western United
States.If we can equip . . . Say 50 small drones with
semi-automatic dart guns and horse-recognition software . . . then we could dart
all but 10,000 or so of them over the course of a few years, and our
horse-overpopulation problems will be solved through natural attrition.Of course, since we're also doing some selective breeding here, these
autonomous drones must be equipped with an ability to judge superior horse
flesh.I think we could justify this Constitutionally as a matter of
national defense.Not only would this give our military much needed
practice in drone design and the implementation of drone strategy and tactics,
we would also be creating a condensed gene pool of rugged horses able to subsist
on minimal provisioning . . . And that would provide our special forces with
the best possible cavalry mounts.. . . You see how everything seems
to work out for the best?
Plain facts: -- Roughly 50,000 Wild Horses are inadequately housed in
Holding Pens without basic shelter that would be required if those horses were
adopted. It is time to have a moratorium on capturing Wild Horses. There is no
more room to 'store' them. Too many Wild Horses have already been
removed, because of this blame game, a few hundred at a time.-- It is time
to start removing thousands of Cattle and Sheep from federal wildlife areas
which are presently in severe drought. Real Ranchers that own the land that
their livestock is grown on have had to do that, across the west, because of
this severe drought. There is no longer enough forage for them, so take them off
the land. -- Wildlife Biologists are already successfully and properly
managing wild horses in the National Park Service (NPS) at Theodore Roosevelt
National Park with injectable birth control. It can be done, and done far more
economically than the present program of wild west helicopter round-ups, catch
Gary O, according to fossil evidence, modern horse originated in North America
and then spread though out the rest of the world from here. We also now have
fossil evidence that horses did not die out in North America during the last
glacial period, commonly known as the Ice Age. A better explanation
is that horses never died out in North America. That's what the Lakota and
Dakota say, anyway. Their oral tradition is that they had horses at the time
the Europeans arrived.Horses, therefore, are a native species to
North America and should be re-classified as such.
Also, Gary O., horses do have natural predators -- some species of bears, such
as Grizzly bears; cougars, wolves and jaguars. Also, packs of coyotes and take
them down. You need to take a good hard look at the facts before you start
typing on this subject. Why don't you try Googling the following:"wild horse roundups undermined by new blm data""how
much public land in us"We have more than enough land to support
the few remaining wild horses and burros that are left on the range. The number
we have left are critically low.
By the looks of the horse advocates comments, there is no compromise, and
therefore no solution.A hollistic approach would identify horse
advocates for what they are and put them on the ignore list.
Calling them "wild horses" already completely misses the point.Horses were extinct in the Americas for tens of thousands of years. The horses
living here now are feral, not wild; every one is descended from domesticated
horses brought here by Europeans. They are a nuisance invasive species and the
ecosystem is simply not capable of handling them well. There is no natural
predator capable of keeping the feral horse population in check at all.Environmentalists, ranchers, and anyone else willing to look at this logically
should be able to agree that the only reasonable long-term way of dealing with
the feral horse population is to repeal the 1959 and 1971 laws that made
"mustanging" illegal and allow people to remove this invasive species
from public lands entirely. If someone wants to have an enclosed private mustang
reserve, fine and dandy. Keep them out of the wilds and out of the
ranchlands.The opposing position is only an appeal to emotion.
It's the same impulse as the "cat lady" who feeds a hundred feral
cats because she feels for the poor hungry animals, not being willing to admit
that she's the source of the problem.
What's the relevant difference between wild horses and any of the
following?Burmese pythons in the EvergladesAsian Longhorned
Beetles in the Eastern USAsian Tiger Mosquitos throughout the USZebra mussels which have devastated North American lakes since their arrival
25 years agoBlack rats in New ZealandAnswer: mustangs are more
"romantic" and therefore have plenty of advocates with enough political
power to pass laws to protect them. That's all.
Cliff, we don't need a "solution" to an imaginary problem of too
many wild horses and burros. Right now we have too few wild horses and burros.
We need a moratorium on all roundups/gathers for at least 10 years to regain
genetic viability in many of our wild horse and burro herds.
These horses and burros are feral animals that should not compete with deer,
elk, bighorn sheep and other native fauna. Livestock is a benefit to society
when they become food stuffs and leather. Horses are not. The idea that feral
horses in Utah have natural enemies that can effectively control their
population is simply a fantasy. People on the eastern seaboard should learn
where wolves and grizzlies live. If the advocates of feral horses/burros love
them and want to preserve them, organize yourselves and buy land for a preserve.
That is the way to demonstrate your sincerity, not lecturing Utahns on romantic
thoughts of the Old West.
The propaganda you spout has been created by groups of ranchers, hunters and
other exploiters of nature who are opposed to keeping wild horses & burros
in the wild. Equids perform many ecological services. Equids have postgastric
digestive systems that restore the soils and seed many species of plants as they
constantly move about, often roaming hundreds of miles in a week, more evenly
distributing their grazing pressure. They also eat large amount of brush that
cause many of the devastating wild fires in the West. On the other hand millions
of cattle & sheep ravage vegetation, soil, streams & riverbanks, and are
given the hog's share of the forage on the vast majority of our public
lands, including in the very areas that are principally designated for equids.
Bovid cattle & sheep rip the grasses & other herbs from the ground using
their tongues, lower teeth and hard upper palates, and the animals often cluster
in large numbers in areas near streams or lakes, resulting in overgrazing,
overtrampling and pollution. Who is really causing the damage? So sad the
public buys into this...
And by the way, have you ever heard of the Yukon horse? "It is genetically
identical with the modern horse and reveals the present day horse to be one of
the most deeply rooted and justifiable natives in North America. This is
substantiated by its large geographic distribution upon this continent which is
evidenced by fossil record and the great variety of ecosystems in which it can
adapt and live. Today's horse traces back 2 million years in its present
form, but actually should be regarded in the continuous context of equid
evolution that dates back 58 million years." (Craig Downer) Native enough
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