Horse News

Is the latest Wild Horse plan really “a path forward”?

by Craig Downer as published on HorseTalk

On September 26, the US Senate Appropriations Committee approved $35 million for the massive reduction of America’s last and relatively minor wild horse and burro herds scattered throughout the West.

A wild stallion from the Pine Nut Mountain area of Nevada. © Craig C. Downer 2017

Through an arrogant, misleading and hyped misinformation blitz, including the film Horse Rich and Dirt Poor, traditional wild horse and burro enemies are very near to getting 100% of their mean-spirited way, which includes massive sterilization programs that undo the very wildness of the horses and burros that the law was meant to preserve. All the while, the general public is being ignored and insulted.

And this includes millions of Americans who cherish these national heritage species. It seems that rank hypocrisy and a love of lies has taken over too many of those in positions of power and authority, as some sort of desperate spirit of perversity seeks to overwhelm all levels of society in order to continue parasitizing the Living Earth. We must not allow true honor to slip by the wayside. And so I ask just who’s kidding who when our Western public lands’ wild horses and burros only get two percent or less of allocated forage on public lands while the rest goes almost in its entirety to livestock and big game?

Nearly 48 years ago, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFHBA) was unanimously passed and represented a “giant leap forward,” morally speaking, for humanity. At long last, humans had decided to do something truly good for two worthy species occupying Earth. These ancient presences have done so much for us humans, yet their truer roles are realized in the world of nature. Over the course of millions of years, these species arose primarily in North America, their cradle of evolution. In the process, they have established many positive relationships with other species. The WFHBA has an ecological mandate to let the horses and burros become integral components of many public lands’ ecosystems throughout the West. Here it gives them the principal resources within year-round habitats where they dwelled in 1971. Yet from the onset of the program, shameless interests have set out to thwart and to subvert this magnanimous law’s true purpose and goal. And these close-minded people are now very close to getting their corrupt way, unless people who still possess clear minds, pure hearts and intact wills to stand up and do something to stop them…(CONTINUED)

13 replies »

  1. “We humans must learn to share the land and freedom with such highly evolved fellow beings as the horses and the burros. They have performed immense services for humanity, yet their truer place is to be found in the world of Nature.” Well said, Craig. Our wild horses and burros deserve so much better.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Albert Einstein, said: “Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”


  3. THANK YOU Craig. I have followed and studied your work since I first became aware of it. I have your books. I believe that RESERVE DESIGN has not been given nearly enough attention. It has and is being implemented in other countries that are way ahead of us.

    Reserve Design combines ecological, biological, social, and political considerations in order to achieve desired results. Basically, it involves setting aside areas of complete year-round habitat where human intervention is buffered against and where natural processes are allowed to reestablish natural checks and balances. Reserve Design will achieve internal harmony for the diverse, yet interrelated, species living within each wild horse/burro-containing ecosystem.

    Critical steps for realizing Reserve Design in wild horse and wild burro habitats are as follows:
    [1] Properly identify the long-term survival requirements for viable equid population levels to be accommodated in each reserve. Our chief focus would be to promote wild horse/burro-containing ecosystems of adequate size and condition to sustain viable equid populations and where plant and animal species are allowed to adapt naturally over the generations and in inter-balanced fashion. The level of 2,500 individual has been recommended for the viability of an equid population by the IUCN SSC Equid Survival Group (Equid Action Plan, IUCN SSC ESG, 1992).

    [2] Conscientiously identify appropriate ecological areas suitable for the implementation of wild horse/burro-containing reserves. This would involve travel to, on-ground inspection of, flights over, and GIS analysis of a wide variety of places throughout the West. This would also entail setting up Cooperative Agreements under Sections 4 and 6 of the WFHBA in order to achieve complete habitats around the federally designated wild equid lands and involving both private and other government lands such as state and local.

    [3] Wherever possible, wisely incorporate natural equid predators (such as puma, bear, and wolf) that would both limit and tone/strengthen, wild horse and burro populations.

    [4] Wherever possible, wisely incorporate natural barriers that would limit the ingress and/or the egress of certain species, including the wild horses and burros. This would avoid conflicts and set up conditions for the natural self-regulation of populations.

    [5] Identify where buffer zones, artificial barriers, or other means of impeding movements in and out of a reserve should be established in order to keep the species in question from coming into conflict with humans. Buffer zones possibly involving non-injurious means of “adverse conditioning” could be employed as well as “positive reinforcement” as a means of encouraging the wild equids to stay within the reserve, as for example, by providing all of their habitat needs. Also, “semi-permeable barriers” that do not restrict most species but do prevent equids from passing out of the reserve may be used. These means would be described in practical detail and as tailored to fit each specific reserve area.

    [6] Identify the presence and abundance of necessary food, water, shelter, mineral procurement sites, elevation gradients for seasonal migrations, etc., that will accommodate the long-term habitat needs of long-term viable wild equid populations. Such will also allow the natural rest-rotation of foraging between the natural subdivisions of the reserve. Fences within the reserve that impede the free-roaming lifestyle of the wild equids will be located and their removal accomplished. The intrinsic Carrying Capacity of the land in question will also be estimated as closely as possible. Such will be based upon the Productivity of forage adequate to at least a minimally viable population of wild horses/burros. Besides food, this determination will take into account other survival factors such as water, minerals, shelter, breeding and nurturing habitat, seasonal migrations, and needed protection from existing threats to the wild equids.

    [7] Identify geographical regions whose human inhabitants are benignly disposed toward the creation and long-term implementation of extensive, ecologically balanced wild horse/burro-containing reserves. This would involve traveling to different areas and setting up meetings with pertinent individuals, town and government officials, etc. This also relates to the setting up of Cooperative Agreements under Sections 4 and 6 of the WFHBA, as mentioned above.

    [8] Identify ways of and benefits from implementing Reserve Design that result in win-win relationships centered on the presence of wild horses and burros. Ecotourism is one major possibility here, and wild horse/burro viewing tours have already proven to be successful in several states, including Craig London’s tours to the Montgomery Pass wild horses of eastern California. Restoring native ecosystems, including soils and native species, would be a major ecological benefit. The reduction of flammable vegetation through equid grazing and the restoration of hydrographic basins through the enrichment of soils, would be other major, positive contributions by wild horses and burros. Another major benefit concerns the prevention of catastrophic wildfires that over-burn vegetation, sterilize soils and denature their stored seed banks. Such fires can set the life community back to very primitive evolutionary stages. Indeed, it can be strongly argued that the restoration of wild equids in North America is crucial to combating life-disrupting Global Warming itself.

    [9] Of key importance is informing the public concerning the many ways that horses and burros, as ecological “climax” species, self-limit their own populations once their respective ecological niches are filled in any given bounded area. This knowledge is key to realizing a humane relationship with these animals, a relationship that does justice to and demonstrates respect for them. And it is this respect and appreciation on the part of us humans that is key to allowing the horses and burros to fulfill their important natural roles within the life community.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The Farm Bureau.


    How the F a r m Bureau Is Reaping Profits at the Expense of America’s Family Far m e r s , Taxpayers and the Environment
    April, 2000

    T h e re ’s never been a farmer put out of business by environmental laws. They’re put out of business by factory farms that skew markets and deflate prices

    This report is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Y. Resnick, the two-term congressman from New York who first exposed the Farm Bureau as not being the organization of farmers it claims to be. Resnick launched an investigation of the Farm Bureau in 1967 and resumed it after leaving politics in1969. He died later that year, but the probe he initiated and funded continued, culminating two years later in the publication of the book Dollar Harvest, a major exposé about the Farm Bureau by former Resnick aide Samuel R. Berger. This report builds on the foundation laid by Resnick and resurrects his call for the dealings of the Farm Bureau to be closely examined on Capitol Hill.

    I n December, 1997, Defenders of Wildlife heard deeply disturbing news. A federal district judge in Wyoming had ruled that Yellowstone and central Idaho wolf reintroductions carried out by the federal government in 1995 and 1996 were unlawful and that the thriving new wolf populations must be removed. Since their former territories in Canada were by then occupied by other wolves and there wasn’t room for them in the nation’s zoos, it appeared that the wolves would have to be killed. The ruling threatened to erase years of hard work by the government and conservationists and to destroy what has been called the most popular and successful wildlife restoration effort of the 20th century, an effort in which Defenders had been a leader for two decades. The most significant plaintiff in the lawsuit responsible for the court decision was the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF — or the Farm Bureau). AFBF and its state and county units regularly oppose not only measures to sustain and recover endangered species like the wolf but many important environmental protection efforts. The organization also is negative toward other widely accepted laws and public policies. Its 1998 policy manual, for example, advocated repeal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, opposed registration and licensing of firearms and advocated abolishing the U.S. Department of Education.

    From its name, one might suppose that the Farm Bu reau exists to serve American family farmers. In reality the Farm Bu reau is a gigantic agribusiness and insurance conglomerate. T h e majority of its “m e m b e r s” are not farmers, but customers of Farm Bu reau insurance companies and other business ve n t u res. Yet the organization’s nonpro fit status allows it to use the U.S. tax code to help build a financial war chest with which it pursues an extreme political agenda, while doing little for — and sometimes working against — America’s family farmers. We decided that we should try to find out more about this politically powerful organization and make what we learned available to the public. The result is the accompanying report. We would have liked to examine more of the Farm Bureau’s operations but lacked the time and resources to do so. We believe the public deserves to learn the full facts about this huge financial conglomerate that purports to be the voice of America’s family farmers. A M B E R W A V E S O F G A I N Foreword Rodger Schlickeisen President, Defenders of Wildlife

    Click to access amber_waves_of_gain.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for your spirited responses and for getting the greater truth and justice out there, Louie! By coordinating together with a realistic strategy carried out step by step we can win for the naturally living horses and burros and their rightful place in American and elsewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

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