Open Letter Written by Robert C. Bauer, Biologist
“Removing our native equine from their legally designated areas has and will continue to have a reverse and detrimental effect on our western rangelands…”
Letter to the Editor
Wyoming Livestock Roundup
P.O. Box 850
Casper, Wyoming 82602
Last year on Nov. 4 a letter was submitted to Neil Kornze , director of the BLM from 20 U.S. Senators and Representatives. This was in reference to the present management program of the BLM concerning this nations wild horses and wild burros, a letter also published in Wyoming Livestock Roundup Magazine. In response to this letter, I would like to point out several points of incongruity and misinformation that the Senate, House of Representatives, and BLM have, in reference to these wild equine. These are issues that will determine whether the wild horses remain in the wild, in the numbers that nature dictates, or whether they are managed to extinction. This latter is something being carried out by our own government, through the Bureau of Land Management, and the Department of Interior, via the Wild Horse and Burro Program, as we speak. I have, as a biologist, been documenting the wild horses and burros for years, along with other ecologists. Due to overwhelming evidence, the preservation of these wild equine is imperative, as the native wildlife species that they truly are. They are, however, more than just a native wildlife species. They are vital components to ecological balance in conjunction with all other competing wildlife species, serving to help maintain and preserve our western rangelands.
The Bureau of Land Management, however, has turned a blind side to the solid science that opposes the idea that these creatures are a detriment to the ecosystems they exist in. Just as much, this same science is opposed so to the myth that there is over population of our wild equine. The ludicrous concept of the “Appropriate Management Level”, of wild horses in any area out west is a lie concocted by the bureau. This is based upon how much forage that the BLM allows the mustangs, as opposed to how much they would actually consume. Cattle and other competing ruminants, on the other hand, in these same areas, are allocated by this same bureau, the major percentage of the forage. From this concept of the “Appropriate Management Level” comes the propaganda that there exists overpopulation of wild Equids, and the subsequent removal of them in mass, from their legally designated lands. This, the bureau does regardless of the fact that our wild horses and burros, by law, are to be considered as the principle species in a multi-use situation, by the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. Because of the falsehoods of our government about wild horse overpopulation, many have succumbed to a feeling that the PZP contraceptive is necessary, even though the mustang herds are already at numbers where genetic viability has been compromised. Those remaining in the wild are not the 20,000 to 30,000 that many are asserting. In truth the number of our wild ones are not even in the teens of thousands anymore. This has its basis upon the liberal use of PZP, the thousands of wild horses and burros already removed, and the adjustment of sex ratios. Added to this, are mortality rates in the wild that range between 19% to 75% annually, both first year and adult. More so, they have falsely come to the belief that permanent sterilization methods are a must also. This too, is being carried out as this letter is being written, along with the concept of a one shot permanent sterilization, that can be delivered remotely. Tactics still continue, to reduce their numbers regardless of the science that opposes this lie.
If allowed so much science could be shared supporting the free existence of our wild horses. All need to come to realize that our wild horses and burros, existing in the wild, are a benefit to all aspects of the balance of our western rangelands. The free roaming habits and social behavior they display, allow them to harmoniously coexist with every competing ruminant. Their physiological makeup coupled with continual movements have a revitalizing effect on soil and vegetation. Cattle, however, have been documented in every instance as the perpetrators of erosion and breakdown of riparian areas along with general loss of vegetation. The effects of wild horses and burros, however, positively impacts other grazers, and subsequently, predators as well, who prey upon them. The presence of wild equine in a multitude of ecosystems has proven to result in a beneficial cascade effect, rejuvenating entire areas where wild equine had been reintroduced, both in terms of flora and fauna. This has been documented in multiple regions throughout the world. Noting these indisputable facts, the wild horses and burros can without question be considered a keystone species. Removing our native equine from their legally designated areas has and will continue to have a reverse and detrimental effect on our western rangelands. The answer to ecological balance in our western ranges lies in the termination of all roundups and a release of the wild horses and burros, in holding facilities, back into the areas from where they were taken. This must be followed by an elimination of the Wild Horse and Burro Program of the BLM, which has proven to be unscientific and unethical in its pursuits.
The wild horses and burros will continue as the vital components of ecological balance if, and only if, we allow nature alone, through its own dynamic methods, to dictate the numbers in the wild that are to exist, at any given time, without manmade restrictions. The wild horses and burros are not just a true native American species, historically existing here before the Spanish, but even more so, they exist as a necessary keystone species to our western rangelands.
Robert C. Bauer