“Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West…”
According to a November, 2020, article in The Aspen Times, the US Bureau of Land Mangement (BLM) seeks to cut Colorado’s wild horse population by more than half.
The remaining wild horse may be subjected to questionable chemical population control.
Let’s start by examining some facts, instead of the misleading agenda-driven narratives that are promoted by some non-profit activists who condone what are arguably violations of at least the intent of the very Act created to protect wild horses and burros.
The Preamble to the 1971 Free Roaming Wild Burro and Horse Protection Act assigns the intention of the Act by the will of the American people through Congress. That Preamble states:
Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.
The intent of the 1971 Act is paramount and timeless. As outlined in its Preamble, the intent was not to have herds of wild horses and burros artificially managed as if they are livestock.
Wild horses being harassed by misguided activists and advocates. Wild horse activist-advocates, disturbing and chasing horses around the landscape with high-powered compressed-gas firearms, and shooting them with heavy darts filled with chemicals, is technically ‘harassing’ American wild horses. Non-profit wild horse activist-advocates who condone or support the policy of chasing wild horses around the landscape and shooting them with chemical contraceptive darts weighing 500-grains or more, are indirectly culpable in this harassment.
Physical Trauma Inflicted via Contraceptive Darting of Wild Horses
“Even on a large animal struck correctly, the dart (contraceptive PZP and GonaCon darts) can cause hemorrhage and hematoma. Misplaced shots can break bones or even kill the animal” (Thomas and Marburger 1964).
“Muzzle report can cause problems in darting either captive or free-ranging animals. In captive situations, the noise can be more disturbing to animals than getting struck with a dart… Disturbed animals are then more difficult to approach, or the entire group of animals may run away”. (Page 32; Overview of Delivery Systems for the Administration of Contraceptive to Wildlife”, by Terry J. Kreeger.)
Selective breeding used on American wild horses
The use of any contraceptive chemicals on wild horses is a form of ‘selective breeding’. Horses that are treated cannot have foals, while the untreated do have foals. And the person pulling the trigger decides which mares (and genes) are selected. The act of choosing which animals get to breed and which do not, is a form of ‘selective breeding’, and that is part of domestication. In some cases, the decision is based upon a horses’ appearance in the eyes of a person engaged in darting, or which horse is a convenient target. And even with a genetic analysis of the target horse(s), it is still a form of selective breeding.
Long-term effects of contraceptive chemicals (PZP & GonaCon) are genetically devastating. The use of the contraceptive chemicals known as ‘PZP’ and ‘GonaCon’ have a seriously adverse effect on the gene-lines of native species American wild horses. The results of using PZP and/or GonaCon to control populations of equids, kept in artificially managed herd areas with collapsed trophic cascades (natural predators of equids are largely missing), disintermediates the essential evolutionary process of ‘Natural Selection’, where co-evolved predators weed-out the sick, elderly and diseased animals.
So, keeping (managing) wild equids comingled with livestock in herd areas where their co-evolved predators have been depleted or are missing, is doing wild equids an ecological and genetic disservice and is actually mismanaging them.
It’s a fact that chemical contraceptives (PZP and GonaCon) cause genetic erosion over time, and social disturbances in family bands, as well as other adverse effects (aborted foals, etc.). Dr. Cassandra Nunez PhD has many published studies outlining these issues, here: https://www.nrem.iastate.edu/people/cassandra-m-nu%C3%B1ez
Condoning, supporting or standing silent about such questionable conduct against wild horses, even as a so-called interim solution to arbitrarily and artificially reduce wild horse populations, is engaging in willful ignorance and harming wild horses and ecosystems. Wild horses and burros must be ‘wild and free’ and living naturally in a ‘natural system’ on public lands.
There is a proven, natural method for saving America’s wild horses, that is economically and ecologically appropriate (cash-positive for taxpayers), instead of the $-Billion dollar drain over the next ten years that is proposed by the Biden administration and supported by Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, which is laden with potential for ongoing headaches and litigation for all stakeholders.
‘Wild Horse Fire Brigade’ is a natural, holistic solution: www.WHFB.us