By: William E. Simpson II – Naturalist
“My name is William E. Simpson II. I am not a part of any formalized advocacy group or non-profit…”
…I have not sought monetary gain by my work. Instead, I do it in honor of the privilege of being able to study what may very well be some of the last remaining free-roaming wild horses living free in a wilderness area.
A stallion (left) and his mare sharing breath; photo courtesy William E. Simpson II
I am, to my knowledge the only researcher in America today who lives-among and studies free-roaming wild horses (mustangs) in a wilderness area (24-7/365), and have been doing so for the past 7-years from my cabin in the mountains on the Oregon-California border.
This is an important fact because many posits about wild horse behavioral ecology leading to management and advocacy positions are based-upon what may be called ‘snapshot observations’, where such studies are made via very short-term field trips watching wild horses at great distances over a sandwich and a telephoto lens. I can attest that by using such study methodology, important things are missed.
I am using an observational study method that was developed by Miss Jane Goodall (PhD) when she first went to Gombe Africa to study the Apes there in the early 1960’s, which I wrote about in this important article (linked below), which explains why there is so much misinformation about wild horses:
Given the gravity of the unfolding management disaster of American wild horses by the BLM and the USFS, new, out-of-the-box thinking is imperative, not more of the same!
As well-intentioned as the notion of adopting wild horses is, far too much noise is being made in the media about wild horses (mustangs) being adopted or used by prisoners and ‘broke’ for resale as saddle horses.
Wild horses are highly intelligent sentient beings, with highly evolved societies and strong family-bonds and values.
Capturing wild horses, and then separating them from their beloved family members, breaking their wild-spirits, and thereby causing them to suffer PTSD and chronic depression, is simply a draconian solution from the minds of humans, based upon human perspectives and values, without any regard for what matters to wild horses. This paradigm must end.
This critique is also relevant given that less than about 5% of all the wild horses rounded-up end up living a captive-life separated from their families via these short-sighted, and arguably inconsiderate methods.
Meantime, the other ~95% of wild horses being rounded-up end-up captive prisoners in off-range holding facilities, as unknown numbers of them are allegedly sequestered away out the back-gate and end-up over the American border in slaughter houses along with thousands of unwanted domestic horses…
Recently, an article in The Horse titled; ‘Equine Innovators: Exploring Demand for Wild Horses‘ highlights Dr. Stowe’s concept of finding uses for wild horses, but seems to miss a very important point:
American wild horses are native species ‘wildlife’, according to leading scientists, like Professor Ross MacPhee at the American Museum of Natural History.
The entirety of the concepts that seek to capture wildlife and then utilize them somehow to serve humans, especially wild horses, is scientifically obtuse since it fails to consider their critically important evolved roles as critical keystone herbivores in wilderness ecosystems.
And by removing wild horses from wilderness ecosystems, the flora and fauna, as well as forests, riparian areas and fisheries of those ecosystems suffer in many ways, as well as the wild horses that may be left remaining.
Moreover, we already have over 7-million domestic horses in circulation in America today.
As such, at any given time, there are thousands of those domestic horses that desperately need training, re-homing and adoption, even as sanctuaries are filling-up with perfectly good domestic horses.
Some of these domestic horses can also be used as therapy horses. There is no need to steal the freedom of a wild horse and break-up a loving family, when there are abundant domestic horses, specifically bred over the past 4,000-years to fill the needs of humans.
It now appears that the Sierra Club supports my own longstanding position on this subject, and have adopted new policy:
From Tri-State Livestock News:
“On May 2021, the Sierra Club’s 15-member Board of Directors adopted a new policy that likens wild horses and burros to wildlife, and advocates for livestock to be eliminated from herd management areas administered by the federal government“
The Sierra Club is beginning to recognize that wild horses in America are native species wildlife that evolved exclusively in North America, and as such, are indigenous to north America.
However, like many others whose understanding of evolutionary biology and ecology is less than adequate, the Sierra Club still fails to understand the ecological folly of managing wild horses commingled with livestock in herd areas where the co-evolved predators of wild horses have, over the past 300-years, been aggressively eliminated in favor of unfettered livestock production. Such areas are ecologically unsuited for herds of wild horses, that is a scientific fact.
And the concept of re-wilding and reestablishing apex predators into livestock production areas, wherever they may be, will take decades of time that wild horses don’t have, and is economically unfeasible. There is a better way!
A solution that address many issues and provides a solution that is workable for all stakeholders:
There is a natural, holistic solution that allows wild horses to remain wild and free and beyond the conflict of public lands grazing issues.
Wild Horse Fire Brigade needs to be centered as one of the options for a wild horse management solution, and that solution is outlined in this recent press release:
William E. Simpson II is a naturalist/rancher living among and studying native species American wild horses. He is the author of a new Study about the behavioral ecology of wild horses, two published books and more than 150 published articles on subjects related to wild horses, wildlife, wildfire, and public land (forest) management. He has appeared on NBC NEWS, ABC NEWS, theDoveTV and has been a guest on numerous talk radio shows including the Lars Larson Show, the Bill Meyer Show, and on NPR Jefferson Public Radio.
Capt. William E. Simpson II – USMM Ret.
Naturalist – Author – Conservationist
Wild Horse Ranch
P.O. Bx. 202 – Yreka, CA 96097
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