Commercial Interests, Not Overpopulation, Behind Largest Wild Horse Roundup of 2010

From: American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and Western Watersheds Project

Obama’s “Wild Horse Harvesting Machine” has Shifted into High Gear

Photo by Carol Walker

Rock Springs, Wyoming (November 10, 2010) . . . . As one of the largest wild horse roundups in recent history enters its final week in southwest Wyoming, a coalition of environmental and wild horse conservationists is charging that commercial interests, not overpopulation, are the driving force behind the mass mustang removal. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has previously claimed too many horses as the reason for the costly helicopter stampede and capture operation, which has killed at least seven mustangs to date.

The planned removal of over 2,100 wild horses makes the action in the Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek Herd Management Areas (HMAs) the largest wild horse roundup of 2010, according to the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.

The BLM roundup will leave just 860 wild horses on a vast, 1.7-million acre range, a ratio of nearly 2,000 acres per horse. Meanwhile the BLM allows extensive livestock grazing in this designated wild horse area, allocating up to 13 times more water and forage to privately-owned livestock than to federally-protected wild horses.

It is disheartening to see the Obama Administration, which promised change, continue to mismanage our public lands for the benefit of private interests at the expense of the public,” said Jonathan Ratner, Wyoming Director of Western Watersheds Project. “Citizens are becoming increasingly aware of the high environmental and economic costs of livestock grazing on public lands. The wild horses are one of the many victims of this destructive policy.”

“It’s time for Wyoming to view its wild horse herds as an asset that will benefit tourism,” said Suzanne Roy, spokesperson for the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, noting that tourism is the largest revenue-generating industry in the state after mining, “Millions of tourists visit Wyoming each year to enjoy its spectacular lands and wildlife. Wild horses are an integral part of the state’s natural landscape. Wyoming’s mustang herds should be cherished and protected, not managed to extinction by an unscientific and outdated federal policy.”

The BLM has received over 10,000 public comments opposing the roundup which began on October 10. Last week, the agency announced that it was increasing the number of mustangs targeted for removal, changing its roundup plan without environmental review or public comment. The roundup will now remove one-quarter to one-third of the state’s entire wild horse population.

The lives of the famed wild horses of Adobe Town in Wyoming’s pristine Red Desert region have been chronicled by wildlife photographer Carol Walker in her book Wild Hoofbeats. Walker has also been publishing her observations and photographs of the roundup.

Wild horses comprise a small fraction of grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by livestock nearly 50 to 1. The BLM has recently increased cattle grazing allotments in areas where wild horses are being removed. Livestock grazing is authorized on 160 million acres of BLM land, while wild horses are restricted to just 26 million acres, which they must share with livestock. The Interior Department intends to remove 12,000 wild horses and burros from public lands in Fiscal Year 2010, with a similar number targeted for 2011. Currently, the government warehouses more than 38,000 wild horses in government holding facilities, a number that now exceeds the population left on free on the range.

26 comments on “Commercial Interests, Not Overpopulation, Behind Largest Wild Horse Roundup of 2010

  1. Good Gravy…this just never ends!

    Certainly the entrenched horse hater brigades are at work, but there finally comes a time when it falls on the President’s head. President Obama (you know…that hopey, changey guy), this is finally your official fault and blame.

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  2. I would like to see this article on the FRONT PAGE OF EVERY NEWSPAPER IN AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW , you want to see action this would get it !

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  3. “destructive policy” — destruction of wild life, destruction of herds of ( protected?)wild horses,destruction of an American icon, destruction of the environment, destruction of a symbol of the Wild West, destruction of history, destruction of an icon, destruction of TRUST. Goodbye Blue Moon……… How depressing.

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  4. Let’s don’t ever congratulate ourselves for being better than the low-lifes who mistreat animals in factory farms, puppy mills, pet-shops and the like, when we have stooped so low as to treat our horses this way. This so-called ’round-up’ was mismanaged from the start and should never happen again. Too much has be documented and reported for these ‘ranchers’ not to be prosecuted. The love of money will be the downfall of us all. Why is everyone so greedy?, you can’t take it with you and where you go will depend on how you got it in the first place!

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    • VERY well said, Barbara!

      I would ad that it’s a bit hypocritical of anyone who cares about saving the wild horses to continue their consumption of beef while complaining about beef taking over the wild horse’s lands. If there were only a small damand for beef, this would not be a problem. When this occurred to me, I vowed to stop eating beef until the horses are safe. Not easy for a NM ranch girl, but one can’t eat a burger while advocating for the horses without being a hypocrite. I wonder how many wild horse advocates would participate in a campaign that included committing to not eat beef until the horses are safe. Any takers?

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  5. There’s a beautiful Carol Walker photo on the cover of this month’s “Colorado Country Life” Magazine (published by the Colorado Rural Electric Association). A stunning grey with a flying mane running straight at the camera. My first thought was, “Where is this horse NOW?”

    “Wild Hoofbeats” is their first recommendation in the “Wild about Books” article. Another grey gallops toward the reader beside the title, prompting the same question.

    The opening sentence reads, “The thunder of hooves across the sagebrush-spotted landscape as wild horses revel in their freedom to run.” The tears came, and the more I read, the more upset I became. So many are no longer “free” to run and await an unknown fate at the hands of their captors. Which will be left when Carol visits again?

    I’m sure the vast majority of subscribers have no idea about what’s happened to these horses and will remain clueless unless they go to Carol’s website (which they provided) or the Cloud Foundation (mentioned as a recipient of a percentage of sales).

    Thankfully, there’s a paragraph I hope people will read and UNDERSTAND:
    “While the photos are by far the highlight, the book is also extremely informative. Walker makes clear her position against the roundups of wild horses by the Bureau of Land Management and supports her opinion with oberservation and research. She also explains why wild horse populations are at risk.”

    I wish they published “Letters to the Editor”. They’d sure get (a polite, but informative) one from me!

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  6. I agree with Arlene Orlando above. THis has to hit the front page of all the syndicated papers and then some. This has to be brought out for all to see. Only then, will we get a “tremendous” backlash for the wild horses to be released back where they came from, and then the ranchers will be the ones crying. It’s about time we take back our country and our wild horses and ranges for the purpose God had when he created them. Please let us work to get this on all the U.S. papers country wide.

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  7. This is the best weapon we can use !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Every American reads the NEWSPAPER, I live in OHIO , very few even know about this, Lots Love and have horses that they love here ………… I have been trying for years here, I have a store and lots of people pass through here daily, not a one leave here with out information and a web site address and a not a letter i mail outta here goes out without the Presidents comment line phone number on right on the back of the ,letter SAVE AMERICAS WILD MUSTANGS written on the back in magic marker…….. STOP THE ROGUE BLM…………… AWARENESS !

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  8. Thank you for keeping up on this. Outside of Nevada these wild herds were the largest
    and I have seen many wild bands over the decades not realizing they had home range there and were protected.

    What was done in Wyoming and now what the BLM plans to continue there is Totally Unnecessary and will deprive us of our more accessible herds. We realize more and more, as the decimation continues, just what we have had and are losing. We realize what can be done and will never be if the wild ones are gone. Our people need to have their wild horses free and reproducing in viable numbers and healthy bands on their home ranges. It is a fine sight to see them in the wild. I wish all of you could see them and never fear they could be gone. mar

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  9. The BLM is holding far more than 37 thousand. That number does not reflect those rounded at all during this year. By the end of Dec that number should be saying 48 + thousand wild horses and burros in holding.

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  10. The photo by Carol Walker at the top of the article debunks a common myth — that helicoptors don’t get anywhere close to horses, that this is a humane method to “gather” horses. How many of these kinds of photos are there? Dozens. Yet, few in decision-making positions seem to accept that round ups are inhumane.
    The myths of land use and the need to remove horses have been exposed, as well. 2,000 acres per horse isn’t enough land to support these herds? Of course it’s enough.
    So, why, when the proof is right there — plain as day — do our decision-makers continue to ignore the reality and choose to cling to the myths?

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    • Nora, It is beyond time to get this turned around. We are being stalled and maneuvered by our government. When people are too worried about paying the bills than about stopping a war or two… and the press is almost non existent, it is hard to inspire them to save wild horses. Unless it is one of us and we all do understand what is going on now. We are no longer in the dark wondering why. We know why, many times over.

      Stay the course and stop the removals and death of our herds. mar

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      • I guess my “why” is somewhat rhetorical. I do know why, and like many here, I’m not really in the dark about WHY.
        I guess, on some deep, deep level, I want to believe — as naive as it may seem — that there are people of conscience in our nation’s capitol. I want to feel that our laws are not just a waste of time, and that when the facts are presented, some one will have the courage to step forward in Congress and say, “This is wrong and it needs to be stopped.” Not just say it, but be heard.

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  11. The powers that be are doing this and they made the myths and know their own lies. It is our job to stop this and we need resources and people who will take on real work as if they were getting paid for it . The pay off will one day be our wild horses still alive and healthy.

    I realize not everyone is on the same page but more and more of us are. We are the ones who need to be productive and work on projects that actually do the horses good. Just as we need to raise funds to keep any kind of observation out there.

    One Huge Myth being spread by BLM and cohorts is; We have lots of money! This is a joke! When we wonder why we do not get more good news it is because we have to raise money to get anything done and the funding is always behind. When I hear we have money I know someone out there will believe this and not donate. Please help our active advocates; RT and Terry Fitch and Laura Leigh/Grass Roots Horse. They both have legal fees to cover. Laura separately needs to be funded in the field. She needs gas money and new Tires. I know people can help with these things. She also needs to feed herself and do normal things like all of us.

    If there is someone able to become Laura’s sponsor please step forward and help Now! mar

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  12. I am afraid the White Man has yet to demonstrate that he honors treaties of lands bequeathed to those who came before him, whether it be our indigenous peoples or our wild horses. This is an excellent view into the entitlement complex that founded this nation and that continues to this day. Our wild mustangs are being pushed onto internment camps and off their federally promised land and it is just another treaty broken or rewritten or misinterpreted to benefit the greed of the white man. Our government is tired of the mustangs who stand in the way, just like he tired of dealing with the Native Americans.

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  13. Thank you “savewildhorses” for sharing Aaron Huey’s outstanding presentation on the history of this nation’s deplorable treatment of its indigenous peoples. The Wichitas’ (whiteman’s) ingrained credo of manifest destiny and greed continues to destroy the Indian culture as it does America’s wild horse and burro heritage herds. The facts depicted in Aaron’s pictorial timeline are striking in how they parallel the wholesale removal of wild horses and burros from their legal range lands and the federal violations of the very laws set in place to protect these herds.

    Dee Brown, author of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” states in the introduction of his book, “The Indians knew that life was equated with the earth and its resources, that America was a paradise, and they could not comprehend why the intruders from the East were determined to destroy all that was Indian as well as America itself.” Sadly, this statement rings true today. Wachitas take heed!

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    • You’re welcome. I am dismayed at the parallels to the wild horses, no disrespect intended to the indigenous peoples, with HMAs being wiped out, new ideas of coming up with one HMA to replace several and on and on. As one Chief prophesied, can’t recall which one, they and the animals will be moved to smaller and smaller islands of land. .

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  14. And… with all the atrocities these people have endured, they roundup their wild horses.

    Not only the Federal government, they have to deal with their own tribal council who have their own agendas which parallel the Federal government’s.

    The Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs are next door to one another in the building that houses the Department of the Interior.

    They knock their Elders to the ground who are trying to prevent the removal of their wild horses.

    Indigenous people and the indigenous horses are alike in their treatment.

    The Lakota people and their, and our, wild horses, need to be given respect and help to preserve their heritage, health and life… not for their destruction.

    The horses are the Lakota people’s life…

    Their horses are their life, and they take them.

    Their tears and their fight, will not protect their horses, or themselves.

    God, please…. help all of us.

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  15. The problem here is getting only half the facts from BLM.
    First of all lets get the facts straight,its not racial problem as intimated earlier, is a greed problem. Ive rounded wild horses on reservation that wanted them off so they could graze more cattle just like most of the corp. ranches that have the BLM leases here in the west. It’s not about history, lineage, or respect, its about money.
    Secondly it is said in the article that the horses will have 2,000 acres per head but when you divide the amount of cattle that are grazing on the same land the amount of acres per horse become much, much, less.
    Here in New Mexico the the claim is that the wild horses are out-grazing the cattle, the ratio is 51 head of cattle to one head of horse. That horse must weight 5,000 lbs to out 51 head of cattle.

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