OpEd by Craig Downer as published in the Reno Gazette-Journal
“Wild horses deserve to be called wild…”
As a serious student of horses and their place in our world, I take strong exception to the biased editorial: “Petition confirms horses aren’t wild” republished from the Elko Daily Free Press on July 19th. This fails to recognize the horse’s greater story/truth as proven by fair-minded scientists.
The horse species originated in North America at least two-million-years ago, and the entire horse family is deeply rooted here, dating back 58-plus million years. Abundant fossil and genetic evidence attest to this. They are a major integrator in North America. And considerable evidence indicates that horses never totally died out, although they diminished, along with many other species at the close of the last Ice Age. Their restoration is a truly welcome one in terms of species diversity and ecological soundness and stability. They can also greatly help stave off the life-threatening effects of global warming.
Wild horses deserve to be called wild. The horse is truer to its inherent nature when living freely in the natural world, as contrasted to a slave horse who must live only where its owner allows, often in bleak, artificial, spirit-killing confines for insufferably long periods! Horses are not mere machines; they are living beings who have arisen out of myriad past generations predominately in the wild! They possess an amazing wisdom, aka instincts, that gives them adaptive abilities that harmoniously fit into a variety of ecosystems, which they enhance. They quickly revert to the wild. To label them as being merely “feral” domesticated escapees ignores the vast majority of their evolution and their true character!
As semi-nomadic, post-gastric digesters, they are much needed to complement the lopsided preponderance of ruminant grazers such as cattle, sheep, and deer that people have foisted or promoted in unnatural numbers upon the land. Wild horses are needed to heal the grievous ecological wounds humans have wrought and to restore balance. They more greatly enrich the soils with humus and disperse the intact seeds of a greater variety of plants. They are restorers and healers of ecosystems to which they are suited and much more deeply rooted natives than either the bovids or the cervids in North America, though these too belong.
Wild horses should qualify as endangered “distinct population units” for protection under the Endangered Species Act. They quickly revert to the wild and adapt harmoniously and in complementary manner to each unique ecosystem, yet they are being either eliminated from their legal lands or brought to sub-viable, mere token population levels by their unjust enemies, including betrayers in the very branches of our government charged with protecting them – the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service!
Possessed by worldly powers and possessions and with a war mentality, their enemies have become blind to the true value, purpose, and justification for naturally living horses! We must quickly rectify this miserable situation and learn to share the land and freedom with such magnificent and highly evolved beings, as the progressive Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act still intends.