Horse News

Can wild horses co-exist with ranchers and their grazing cows?

Story by James McWilliams ~co-founder of The Daily Pitchfork ~ as published on The Pacific Standard

“Anytime a self-actualized journalist turns an inquisitive eye to the plight of our nation’s wild horses and burros it is time to celebrate as they are the ones who cannot speak for themselves.  But when editors, mostly unaware of the facts surrounding a story, cast a headline with skewed numbers/counts of said equine it instantly slants the story into the favor of the adversaries of the wild one before the first word of the article is ever read by John Q Public.  So is the case with the story below, written by animal journalist and co-founder of the Daily Pitchfork, James McWilliams.  James and Vickery Eckhoff have been champions for and of the truth regarding not only horse slaughter and the wild equines but animal agriculture in general.  We highly recommend the Daily Pitchfork and likewise ask you to read and visit the article below which features quotes from our own Debbie Coffey and a photo of our Carol Walker in the field documenting the disaster of mismanagement that goes by the name of BLM.  A very good read.” ~ R.T.

Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation at Palomino Valley

Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation at Palomino Valley

Twenty miles north of Reno, after casinos and strip malls yield to the high desert, the Bureau of Land Management holds 1,100 wild horses in a series of corrals. From the highway, the federal facility—the National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley—looks like a dusty feedlot, the kind of place you might smell before you see passing through some forlorn corner of Texas or Oklahoma.

But walk down the hill from Route 445 and stand alone among the pens as the sun rises in late July, and you’ll find that the place smells fine, sort of earthy and clean. Instead, what concentrates the mind is something altogether unexpected: silence. Somehow, amid 1,100 wild animals held in confinement, the only sound I hear is the wind whistling across the plastic lid of my coffee cup.

These horses and burros are a mere fraction of the roughly 45,000 kept in BLM holding facilities across the country. The primary reason they’re confined is the nearly 18,000 ranchers grazing an estimated 747,963 “animal units”—a bureaucratic term that can represent either a horse, a cow/calf pair, or five sheep—on 155 million acres of land. The horses might be silent, but lately these cattlemen have been quite loud indeed...(CONTINUED)

The Rest of the Story:

15 replies »

  1. Where Have All the Wild Horses Gone?
    Cate Crismani

    Did you know that in the last 40 years 50 percent of the world’s wild species have been decimated? Wiped off the planet. Never to be seen again except in books or on the Internet. In one word, extinct. It is a fact. Another fact, the decimation is still going on now, taking its toll on the wild horses and burros roaming freely on the ranges in 10 U.S. states by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the Department of Interior (DOI).

    So what is really going on? Follow the money. Cattle ranching, fracking, urban development, mineral and metal exploitation, hunting and corporate greed have all taken their toll on the wild horses and burros on public land. Frankly, on all of nature and its inhabitants, including humans. The wild horse and burro advocates are up against strong opposition and pro-lobbying groups for the NRA, the cattle and meat industry, corporate oil drilling and natural gas fracking, which, I might add, uses millions of gallons of water to keep the boring drills cooled off, along with uranium mining to produce plutonium. You do know that plutonium is a radioactive metal, produced from uranium, and used to manufacture nuclear weapons? And that both plutonium and uranium are nuclear reactor fuels? And that both are extremely radioactive and deadly? All of these groups are very powerful and very well-heeled.

    The wild horse advocates have no lobbying group and very little financial strength to hire one. Most spend and donate out of their own pockets to support the wanning, but needed, legislative changes

    Wild horse and burro advocates are constantly on guard and on roundup sites in protest. Petitions run rampant on and other petition sites demanding an end to these inhumane roundups. But the roundups continue ad nauseum

    Against all odds, the wild horse and burro advocates continue to fight the good fight. One some believe is a loosing battle. These dauntless folks are the only voice for the protection and preservation of these majestic animals to live freely and unharassed. So they press on with the belief that the price of freedom is constant alertness and the willingness to fight back.


    • Are there any advocates that are putting themselves “out there”? I know there were several last year or the year before – but in order to nominate someone – you have to have all of the information they request!


  2. “It would be anomalous to infer that by authorizing the custodian of the wild free roaming horses and burros to “manage” them, Congress intended to permit the animals’ custodian to subvert the primary policy of the statute by capturing and removing from the wild the very animals that Congress sought to protect from being captured and removed from the wild.”


  3. The article states, “Ranchers want to be free to operate without interference—be it from the government…”.

    That’s fine; then let them get their hands out of MY tax-paying pocket and raise their domestic private/corporate livestock on their OWN private land. BLM is not in the cattle and sheep business and is not authorized to be promoting private for-profit ranchers.

    As made clear by the Wild Horse and Burro Act’s implementing regulations, the BLM “may close appropriate areas of the public lands to grazing use by all or a particular kind of livestock . . . if necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury.” 43 C.F.R. § 4710.5(a) It is the law.


  4. Wild horses and burros are legally DESIGNATED on the Herd Management Area (HMA) and livestock are only PERMITTED. Definition of the word “designated” is to “set aside for” or “assign” or “authorize”. Definition of “permit” is to “allow” or “let” or “tolerate”. The Wild Horse and Burro lands and resources are set aside for, and assigned and authorized for, the use of wild horses and burros whereas the livestock is only allowed and tolerated and let to use the public range resources. While commercial livestock grazing is permitted on public lands, it is not a requirement under the agency’s multiple use mandate as outlined in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA). Public land private grazing clearly is a privilege not a right, while the BLM is mandated by law to protect wild horses and burros. The multiple use concept does not trump the WFRHBA protections for wild horses. In fact, the statute makes clear that the protections under WFRHBA take precedence. FLPMA, 43 U.S.C. § 1732 (a)


  5. One of the ranchers that had seen five or six horses on his property is actually worried that the five or six animals will turn into a 40 horse herd almost overnight?
    That is the same stupid mindset that all of these ranchers have horses do not have litters of foals nor do their cows have litters of calves. Some pf these people are so filled with hatred for the horses that what they say sounds more like its coming from someone deranged. I don’t believe there is anywhere near the 40 or 50,000 horses left on in all of the western states no where near it. Every roundup that has been video recorded shows a vast landscape that is totally empty of any large herds of horses like these rancher crooks keep saying. Even the last count done from the air showed very few wild horses they couldn’t find any large herds at all. Every cow that resides in the US was imported from Europe so their constant bitching about the horses being feral is so much hot air and they know it. What needs to be done is force these ranchers to start feeding their own cows seeding their own property along with fencing it like ranchers do in other states. Why do the these particular ranchers get such a good deal from the BLM when the other ranchers in the US don’t? Almost all of the cattle ranches in the US raise their own hay and feed except the anointed ones in the western states.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barbara, it’s worth adding here that horses rarely birth twin foals (and often one will die without intervention), cattle have twins more often (not desirable since one will be smaller than the other), but sheep are expected to have twin lambs and sometimes triplets. Livestock producers do know this.


  6. The ranchers and the cattle industry are one of the lowest forms of life on this planet earth.
    Wild horses and cattle could get along fine but because of the greed the ranchers will never stand for it.
    Cattle industry do not care about any animals only money for selling them


  7. What I don’t understand is the absurd reason the F & G stating that 90,000 horses need to slaughtered because the land won’t sustain them. Then answer me this, how can the land sustain cows over horses? This is Federal Land office says that the horses have to be killed so the cows can move in. This is absurd! Simple political BS for ranchers again getting land for cattle to fatten their wallets. Why can’t we stop these abusers? It’s like the Wolves have to be killed beause they wukk kill the cows. Someone explain to me where this is reasonable?

    Liked by 1 person

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