Horse News

Ecologist tells Steamboat Audience Wild Horses Play a Vital Role in the West

Source: By Tom Ross of the STEAMBOAT TODAY

“The horse family is one of the most native of any group in North America,”
Craig Downer and R.T. Fitch at Twin Peaks Roundup ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Ecologist Craig Downer and author R.T. Fitch at Twin Peaks Roundup ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Steamboat Springs — Ecologist Craig Downer came to Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs on Thursday to make the scientific and archaeological case for one of the most romantic figures in the American West: the wild horse.

Wild horses and burros, Downer told his audience, mistakenly have been cast as an invasive species to North America when in fact they roamed here for tens of millions of years, evolving along with other flora and fauna until they formed mutually beneficial relationships and became an integral part of the ecosystem.

Today, in Downer’s opinion, an unwise effort by the Bureau of Land Management to round up thousands of wild mustangs and reduce them on their ranges until their populations are genetically untenable is opening the door to damaging the grasslands of the intermountain West and even promoting the spread of forest fires.

Downer is the author of the 2012 book “The Wildhorse Conspiracy,” available locally at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore.

One of the places where wild horse herds still can be observed is Moffat County’s nearby Sand Wash Basin, Downer pointed out.

Ultimately, the horses and burros, or equids as he refers to them, migrated out of North America, not the opposite, as commonly is thought.

Ultimately, the horses and burros, or equids as he refers to them, migrated out of North America, not the opposite, as commonly is thought.

“The horse family is one of the most native of any group in North America,” Downer said. “They were here continuously since the end of the dinosaurs.”

Horses and burros complement ruminant species like cows, deer, sheep and pronghorns, which have multiple chambers in their stomachs and chew their cuds, Downer said. Instead of directly competing with those animals for forage, they graze on coarser material. Their wallows serve to collect water in arid regions where many smaller species benefit. And their waste contains viable grass seeds that can germinate in what amount to small packets of compost the horses leave behind.

In winter, their heavier hooves can break through icy snow crust on the landscape, benefiting the survival of deer.

“Horses and burros represent a giant missing piece in the ecological puzzle,” Downer said.

Most of all, Downer said, he objects to the BLM’s wild horse roundups, which he describes as being in direct conflict with the Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which calls for the wild horses and burros to be “protected from capture, branding, harassment or death.”…(CONTINUED)

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30 replies »

  1. Would the “great plains” the “bread basket of the world” be, without the cultivation of horses? Horses bring bugs, worms, birds, predictors, grass, and are essential for a natural system. Truly the elemental builders of our society serving us in so many ways. BUT what I fear most is our inevitable future without oil. 100 years ago we had no oil and horses 100 years from now we will have no oil or horses. Part of our future may be found in the past, we did get here with their help.


  2. Thanks Craig…so informative and correct. I guess they (BLM) the so called authorities it appears have not taken any archological courses or they would get it. Mother Nature has prepared the environments to compliment each other. The worse predator in the World is Man who has depleted and caused environmental damage to just about every eco system they ever come in contact with.
    Its really too bad that we ( the Advocates) get it and the others fall very short of any knowledge. We
    just need to pass on more of these statements to our Congressional members. Of course todays buzz word is immigrationj, which will probably never get fixed. .


    • Craig Downer knows his stuff and has educated the BLM for a long time….

      The BLM isn’t listening and doesn’t care about this…it’s about Greed and Money from
      cattle ranchers and fracking interest…..


  3. Everything is about money.Horse slaughter will make more room for cattle,and help the range as well.Keep writing this stuff guys plants will be open before you know it.


    • Sure right up until BLM drops land leases and no more welfare cattle?

      I’ll bet you didn’t even think about that?

      Fracking is headed to take over the water from all livestock needs on public lands………….

      So Mr Rob, put that in your pipe and smoke it……………


    • It is a sign of smallness that a person taunts another when the issue is one of compassion. Where do you keep your heart Rod? Check it out before it gets so small and dark that it blows away with the wind. There are plenty of lessons that reveal the consequences of putting money first.

      Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


  4. Craig Downer is one of the most knowledgeable persons walking the planet when it comes to a lifetime of personal experience with the problems faced by our wild horses and burros including the political and environmental issues leading toward their demise. There are lots of parts and pieces to the entire issue of our wild horses and burros and our public land and fortunately there are many informed and dedicated people and Craig Downer is one of them without a doubt. I have learned a lot from reading both his books and if you haven’t, then I would suggest doing so. When it comes to dedication to our wild horses and burros …Craig Downer is “THE REAL DEAL”.


  5. Craig is the epitome of dedication to the wild equids. I am so grateful for his intelligent, rational and friendly presence amidst the sometimes hectic life of the wild horse and burro advocate/activist. Read his latest book, “The Wild Horse Conspiracy.” You will go on a journey of eloquence that is no less than exquisite and come to an even deeper appreciation for their role. The photo on the cover of this book is of a horse that jumped the fence of a trap and then battled through barbed wire. The photo is of him is at the moment he turned to look back. I believe his name is Freedom. His mare tried to follow over the fence but at the last moment lost her own fight for release. Craig was there and took that photo.


    • I had the link playing the interview earlier – now it won’t play for me. Can someone please post a better link to this interview? Thank you.


  6. From the studies the camel also evolved right along with the horse in North America. It did not evolve in the Middle East. Camels and the horse migrated out of North American to Asia, Africa and South America. This is where the Zebra came from it didn’t evolve 50 million years ago in Africa. It evolved right here in North America. With the fossil record that museum’s now have as proof that horses are natives, the BLM still has its collective head up it’s you know what and refuses to remove it. Has there ever been any lawsuits against the BLM using scientific evidence such as what now exists, to try to stop the BLM’s extinction of the Mustangs??


    • Barbara I recently sent Craig a message on Facebook and asked if there was anyway of a class action suit against the BLM?

      He stated that could be a possibility??


      • This may be a way to put a stop to the roundups. If a honest judge heard a case like this with scientific proof there is no way that the BLM could continue with its destruction of these animals.


  7. Didn’t know camels evolved on the North American plate too. But that explains why llamas and alpacas live in South America and of course now elsewhere.


  8. So encouraging to read your comments, fellow wild horse and burro defenders! Yes, I will being the spokesman for the wild equids and their rightful freedom. By the way, I saw that Amazon had reduced the price of my book by $5, so that it is now the most reasonable ever. You can get this at as a printed book and at as an eBook with color pictures — and there are a lot of them from all over the place, plus charts and graphs in my book. The links to my recent interview on Chico public radio are: http://kchofm/ then select the Craig Downer program in Nancy’s Bookshelf The other link is
    Just heard that 134 of the imprisoned wild horses at BLM Palomino Holding Facility north of Reno have died and that 2000 are in danger of losing their lives. This is horrible! More example of the “Devil may care” attitude of our paid public officials who have acted so dishonestly and dishonorably when it comes to upholding the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which they have only mocked and subverted in a criminal manner. This is evil if ever there was anything evil! It must be changed. People don’t realize what horrible consequences such evil attitudes and acts cause in the long run. Remember what I just said in my speech: “The solution to Greed is NOT More Greed! The solution to Greed is Generosity, is Learning to Share the Land and Freedom with such wonderful presences as the Horses and Burros!!!!!” We can do it by putting aside our differences and learning to work together for this noble and in fact life-saving cause. The current April issue of National Geographic tells how the horse is being used to restore the tundra grassland in Siberia under the supervision of Dr. Zimov, whose work I honor in my book and give a reference for. The line for the entire Steamboat Today article is Let me know of other opportunities to come speak. I have a fine Power Point presentation that accompanies my talk and can play some of my original melodies and offer my original CD Wild Horse Rhapsody. For both of these and signed go to and click on PayPal for the various options. Looking forward to working with all of you!! Marvellous Spring!!! Season of Rebirth and Restoration!!!! Craig


  9. A huge thank-you to Craig Downer! It’s just too bad the audience that needs to listen to him, isn’t listening! I’ve always felt in my heart, the same thing. I think it is highly possible & probable that wild equines did, in fact, survive, & were not all killed off as “some” would like to have us believe. I’m also sure that over the centuries, Spanish horses, as well as other domesticated horses, did revert back to their wild state, & inter-breed with our NATIVE population of wild horses! So that explains all the different DNA, & the differences in appearance & size of the horses. I think many did migrate, or cross over various land bridges that were in existence at the time, but I also think some managed to stay here & survive, unseen, & undocumented, as there were no humans around to prove one way or another! Then, early explorers brought their horses here, & those that were left behind mixed with the native wild herds, & became a reintroduced species. Just my opinion. I just wish our government would acknowledge the truth, or at least give it the benefit of the doubt, before they succeed in killing them all off. No matter their idiotic “reasoning”, there is room for wildlife, including our wild equines, & humans, to peacefully co-exist. There are ways to keep the horses safe & away from our destructive natures.


    • I know for a fact the Wild Horses that live in the “little bookcliff’s here in Colorado have some breeding from the local owned horses.

      I lived very close to them in this area in recent past was educated by the ranchers who have done so..I am not going to disclose anybody. But it’s does happen.

      I’ve been trying to find info on one of the Wild Mustang stallions I feel in love with living in there and his where abouts?

      However at this point I am sure slimy “Tom Davis” had his hands on him for slaughter. The 1700 unaccounted for Wild Mustangs from the BLM purchase and no where abouts?


      • So glad you are in agreement Robyn, and hope the stallion you seek is still out there wild and free. So much that is truly wrong with America today has to do with its smug and vicious treatment of the wild horses and this must be changed. I also visited Little Bookcliffs back in 1996 and was very taken with the wild vigor and beauty of this herd. Best wishes, Craig


      • Thanks Craig….What an experience to have been around them up close and personal, and
        to see them in the Wild.

        The one stallion I speak of was just “Majestic beyond belief”..I drove right up to him as he stood on the edge of rocks, I was in my vehicle.
        I could of touched him, and he was fine with my presence, maybe because he was a lonely
        stallion then. No others in sight near him.
        My curiosity made me stop to stare at him being all alone his beauty and existence blew me away.
        He was little maybe 14 hands and stunning, solid jet black with a thick black mane like a Friesian that flowed down to his shoulders a white crooked strip on his nose.

        If you have any pictures anywhere of his description or know anyone who might please let me know?

        Thanks again Craig for your wonderful knowledge and education to us all.

        Will look forward to joining up with you at one of your speaking engagements in the future.


      • Wonderful, Robyn! Yes, I will keep an eye out for this fine horse. I am going ahead with doing the job our excessively paid public servants should be doing, but refuse to do because of the corruption. Will keep you informed about upcoming talks. Best wishes, Craig


    • Right on, Valerie! Hope you can get my book which explains the proofs for the native status of the horses and proves how they complement the rest of the wildlife. Here is some info for you and others. Together we can turn this dreadful situation around for the horses and their rightful freedom!

      DEFINITION OF “CONSPIRACY” so you will understand why I used this term in the title of my book: The Wild Horse Conspiracy.

      1. An agreement to perform together an illegal, treacherous, or evil act.
      2. A combining or acting together, as if by evil design: a conspiracy of natural forces.
      3. Law. an agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime or to accomplish a legal purpose through illegal action.

      Source: page 376 of The Tormont Webster’s Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary. 1990. Montreal, Canada.

      The first definition most fits how the wild horse and burro enemies including public officials, BLM and USFS employees, public lands livestock ranchers and others have conspired to commit this very evil deed to displace these wonderful returned natives in North America from their rightful legal land, where they restore so much that is truly wholesome and good here in America.

      I go into this in considerable depth and breadth in my book, and hope more of you will read it. It speaks for the wild horses and burros and their freedom. It is their message as well as mine.

      The book is now at an all time low price, $5 less than regular as in print book and you can also get it at the low price as before as an eBook where you can see all the pictures and charts in color: Here are the links:

      and eBook:

      If enough people would seriously and carefully read my book and absorb its message, I know it would produce a big positive turn around for the wild horses and burros and their rightful freedom!


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