Story and Photos by Arlene Gawne
Eco-tourism Could Save the Wild Horses and Burros
Ah, July’s sizzling hot days in Las Vegas turn into mild evenings and mellow the most work-weary of us. Summer may be our desert’s harshest season of the year, but evening gentles us into peace and rest, a scarce and wonderful thing in today’s world. This past Saturday night we spent with wild horses, a BBQ by a high altitude lake, and a full moon that reminded me of all those beautiful years I spent in the African veldt (bush) when the elephants and zebra, giraffe and lion could breathe easy at summer sundown. The thirst, fatigue, and the hunt for food paused. All of us, human or 4-footed, relaxed and luxuriated in the soft, warm evening air.
For our Southern Nevada wild horses, yet unmarked for roundup by our government, this July is a most gentle one – they have cheat grass aplenty because of this spring’s plentiful rain. Now cheat grass will catch fire quickly in summer lightning strikes, but not where the wild ones graze. They love the stuff so disliked by other mammals and they make a natural fire break, not the man-made ones full of weeds and hot for fire. Their firebreak is free of charge, courtesy of their tens of thousands of years of evolution in North America.
Our herd ID volunteers, do you recognize this pinto mare and her yearling ? They dodged Nature’s bullets and are thriving this July. What a joy to watch them together. The bay stallion knew he had a prize in them and drove off a nearby stallion who had just one mare and foal. But who knows what will ensue in a month? If he doesn’t please her – and if his lead mare continues to nip at her – the pintos will be off. Now that will bugger up our band ID and his testosterone!
What a pleasure to stand near and silent watching the wild ones pick their full out of a supposedly barren desert. No wonder I am adrift in African wildlife memories – we have the same jewels here but the public just doesn’t know about them. Our silly go-for-broke government would rather round them up, break up their family bands and send them to jail at great cost. You have to laugh at this when we are just 12 days from national bankruptcy. This year, this Congress gave over $10 million dollars to round up wild horses while they cancelled programs for vets, the elderly and the foster kids of this nation.
Yes, these are the same wild horses that the US government and ranchers claim are thirsty and starving, constantly chasing wildlife from waterholes. Ah those government desk jockeys that seldom tour the range, if only they invested in wild horse study programs like American universities do in Africa. These are sleek summer horses that have shed their winter woolies, find plenty of water in springs and catchment basins, and share the water and feed with elk and deer while teaching their very young foals where to graze.
Ah the foals, so beautiful but so vulnerable. We volunteer watchers have seen few of the foals that we identified in 2010. Why?
Had to be mountain lions, broken limbs, moms dying of old age before their foals were weaned, summer lightning strikes in the high hills (as in the Pryor Mountains). Who else would have taken them? The BLM has not come with their helicopters for several years. Thank God. Yes, this is the real Nevada range – not the world of 20-25% annual incease in horses herds as constantly claimed by the BLM. If it was, wouldn’t we would see our favorite 2010 foals as yearlings? No – Nature is always pruning the numbers to preserve the strength of a species. But don’t try to sell that truth in Washington DC or Carson City Nevada.
So I invite you, if ever you find the time and the ticket to Vegas, to call me up and come see these wild beauties – come see how they protect their bands, play silly buggers in the warm evening air, and share the range with you and whoever else is blessed to be upon. Africa is in Nevada, you just need to know where to look.
- HSUS Misses the Mark on BLM Wild Horse Stampedes (rtfitch.wordpress.com)
- How YOU Can Help the Wild Horses and Burros (rtfitch.wordpress.com)
- Shady Tactics Surround Obama’s BLM Roundup of Famous Kiger Wild Horses (rtfitch.wordpress.com)
- Breaking News: Congressman Grijalva Letter Seeks Congressional Support for Wild Horses (rtfitch.wordpress.com)
- Sheldon Wild Horses and Burros: We Will Not Forget You, Again (rtfitch.wordpress.com)
- BLM Roundup of Alleged “Estrays” in Oregon (rtfitch.wordpress.com)
- Sheryl Crow Pledges Help to Wild Horses via the Cloud Foundation (rtfitch.wordpress.com)