Horse News

Wild Horses and Burros: Funding Failure – The ‘Donate’ Button

by: William E. Simpson II

It’s clear that more people than ever are on the same page as to the futility of the ‘donate button’ that funds wild horse non-profit activist groups...”

Photo by: William E. Simpson II

These ‘gold-plated’ non-profit activists have had decades of time and nearly $100-M in total donations… all of which has led-to and culminated with the largest roundups of wild horses in America in recent history. There is no logical or honest way to consider this sad result as any form of ‘success’… winning a few battles but losing the war, is a fail.

And capping-off this failure is the obtuse plan to artificially manage wild horses using a ‘genetic poison’ called ‘PZP’.
The overall end-result of donation-funded non-profit wild horse advocacy groups is, as the record shows, the demise of an American Icon; the Wild Horse.  These non-profit groups have certainly had their ‘time at bat’… and it’s well past-due for a new hitter.
Too many Americans have forgotten how America came to be, and how wild horses were critical partners in building America…
Once numbering in the millions across America, wild horses were a continual source of horse-power for industry and ranching.
Wild horses, along with domestic horses, were instrumental in the evolution of the American dream.
Really, doesn’t America owe its wild horses a little bit of our respect and gratitude?
A token of such gratitude would be to help them to finally be able to genuinely live wild and free, unfettered by the meddling and ignorance that stems from the currently failed wild horse management by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and by the donate-button-funded non-profits armed with high-powered-gas rifles, who are supporting the harassment and shooting American wild horses full of the ‘genetic poison’ known as PZP.
What our Wild Horses desperately need is; activism around a workable plan that meets critical criteria!
The Wild Horse Fire Brigade ‘Plan’ (‘WHFB’) allows wild horses to be truly wild and free, while also providing these benefits:
1)   The Plan is arguably acceptable to a majority of stakeholders around public lands grazing and wild horses.
2)   The Plan is sustainable on it’s own, without the need for $-millions in ongoing funding
3)   The Plan provides true freedom for wild horses in the wilderness where they belong; in the intent of the 1971 Act.
4)   The Plan allows Nature to manage their genetics and populations through the evolutionary process of ‘Natural Selection’
5)   The Plan doesn’t burden taxpayers with continuing costs in the $100-million per year range, the current situation with BLM.
6)   The Plan would re-balance ecosystems and also, reduce wildfire fuels
7)   The Plan would reduce the need for costly and dangerous prescribed burns that pollute the atmosphere
8)   The Plan sequesters carbon compounds back into soils through the wild horse herbivory
9)   The Plan helps protect forests and wildlife from wildfire
10) The Plan reseeds fire-scarred landscapes with native plants and thereby reduce erosion, protecting fisheries
I am also concerned about the limited capacities of much-needed Sanctuaries who are doing noble work by continuing to take-in horses, caring-for and feeding them, from both domestic situations/rescues, and now also from increasing wild rescues…
By solving the wild horse issue, Sanctuaries can focus their donated resources on the needs of domestic horses that need rescue…
There is a finite amount of physical sanctuary space (land area)… and money…  most sanctuaries are already filled-up and we have thousands of perfectly good domestic horses needing rescue of some kind, which are filling the trucks heading into Mexico and brutal slaughter, along with American Wild Horses/Mustangs salted-in.
The reality of WHFB is this; we aren’t over-extending in any way via the implementation of the Plan.
Even if we deployed whatever horses there may be left in the holding facilities into the WHFB program, and any additional horses that will surely be coming off HMAs where they are commingled with livestock, we really only have enough wild horses to rewild and provide fuels reductions in a relatively small fraction of the total area of lands in America that are ‘designated wilderness’, which total about 110-million acres. These areas contain the few remaining heritage trees, some of which are thousands of years old, and if lost to catastrophic wildlife, might end yet another species on the planet.
A general metric that helps put things into perspective:
The metric that Dr. Michael Rains (former professor of forestry at Humbolt State U, and former Deputy Chief at the USFS) gave me during a telephone conversation a few years ago was this:
After reading my (Simpson’s) research… Dr. Rains read that the CA population of deer is down about 1.5 to 2-million deer over the past 50-years…
Rains commented that; to makeup for just the lost natural grazing of these approximate 2-million deer missing in CA, we would need to deploy about 500,000 wild horses!  That’s just re-balancing the natural herbivory in California alone… an herbivory that in previous warm-periods kept wildfires in the realm of ‘normal’ wildfire as a result of a reduction of about 2.5-million tons of annual grass and brush fuels on the landscape.
Obviously, if we include all wild horses that may still be alive in BLM/USFS holding facilities, as well as all the remaining free wild horses in HMAs (now maybe just 40,000?) the total number of wild horses left in all of America is roughly 120,000 horses…
If we carefully deployed wild horses into just 20-million acres of the 110-million acres of ‘designated wilderness’ at the rate of 1-horse per 200 acres, we could rewild 100,000 horses! And the immediate, direct savings to taxpayers with that one move would be over $100-M per year!
If we also logically estimate a reduction in losses to natural resources, infrastructure, homes and socioeconomic losses resulting from wildfires at the rate of just 2% impact/reduction resulting from wildfire grazing by wild horses, considering we are experiencing financial losses in the $-hundreds of billions (insured and uninsured losses), the additional savings could easily amount to an added $500-million or more, annually!
Wild horses can thrive in a wide range of regions and at a wide range of elevations… from the deserts to the arctic circle, and high in the mountains with deep snow (the eastern Oregon ‘Big Summit’ herd has lived for hundreds of years at an elevation of about 8,000 feet! with up to 20-foot of snow)… The home-range of the wild horses around Wild Horse Ranch in the Cascade-Siskiyou wilderness is at an elevation that ranges from 3,000-feet to 6,000 feet within a 5-mile radius.
Using existing Law to rewild and relocate American wild horses into ecologically ideal areas:
We have in-hand existing law that allows any government entity (city, county, state, or agencies within those categories) to get wild horses directly from the BLM and USFS at no cost.
Using the existing law to obtain wild horses, and entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (‘MOU’) with one of more agencies (ODF, BLM, USFS) to deploy the wild horses as ‘work animals’ to reduce wildfire fuels in carefully selected at-risk forested wilderness areas, we can begin to provide a positive, cost-effective solution for wild horses that benefits them to the highest degree.
The Law:
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (HUMANE TRANSFER OF EXCESS ANIMALS SEC. 116) to transfer excess wild horses and burros currently in holding to other federal, state, and local government agencies for use as work animals.

H. R. 133—Page 358-359

SEC. 419.

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of the Interior, with respect to land administered by the Bureau of Land Management, or the Secretary of Agriculture, with respect to land administered by the Forest Service (referred to in this section as the ‘‘Secretary concerned’’), may transfer excess wild horses and burros that have been removed from land administered by the Secretary concerned to other Federal, State, and local government agencies for use as work animals. (b) The Secretary concerned may make a transfer under sub-section (a) immediately on the request of a Federal, State, or local government agency. (c) An excess wild horse or burro transferred under subsection (a) shall lose status as a wild free-roaming horse or burro (as defined in section 2 of Public Law 92–195 (commonly known as the ‘‘Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act’’) (16 U.S.C. 1332)). (d) A Federal, State, or local government agency receiving an excess wild horse or burro pursuant to subsection (a) shall not— (1) destroy the horse or burro in a manner that results in the destruction of the horse or burro into a commercial product; (2) sell or otherwise transfer the horse or burro in a manner that results in the destruction of the horse or burro for processing into a commercial product; or (3) euthanize the horse or burro, except on the recommendation of a licensed veterinarian in a case of severe injury, illness, or advanced age. (e) Amounts appropriated by this Act shall not be available for— (1) the destruction of any healthy, unadopted, and wild horse or burro under the jurisdiction of the Secretary concerned (including a contractor); or (2) the sale of a wild horse or burro that results in the destruction of the wild horse or burro for processing into a commercial product.

You can find more information and a draft outline for a legislative bill at:

William E. Simpson II is a naturalist living among and studying free-roaming native species American wild horses. William is the award-winning producer of the micro-documentary film ‘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.
#WildHorses, #WHFB, #ReWilding

9 replies »

  1. Thank you, Mr Fitch and Mr Simpson, for your eloquently written opinion of the uselessness of the horse advocate groups. I have only become aware of the whole wild horse issue in recent months, and I could see right away that contributing to them was like pouring water down the drain.

    However, regardless of whose plan is the best, the first order of business is to get the roundups stopped. While we debate the plans, the BLM continues to remove the horses from the range. By the time we figure out the best plan there will be no more horses to apply it to.

    The only way to stop the roundups now is through some kind of mass action. There was someone who commented in a previous article that we should form blockades, mess with the trucks or the helicopters and make sure the press was there when we do it. He’s actually right
    because that’s the only way we can get the public engaged at this late stage. I realize that not everyone is up to do that stuff, but participating in a blockade around their traps or vehicles on public land should be palatable for enough people. I would actually travel to Wyoming or whatever western state to participate. I might be willing to even lead it.

    I think the best organization to do such a campaign is the Sierra Club. They’ve recently changed their position to support the horses and they’ve got the membership and the organizational skills to pull it off quickly. I will be contacting them since I am already a member. I suggest all of you do the same or come up with your own ideas of direct action and hopefully we can put something together fast.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Once a wild horse is removed from their legal homeland and designated a “work animal” how does that square with them remaining protected? As I understand it, once removed they are no longer considered “wild” and thus can face a variety of owners and eventual fates. How would any such relocated animals be protected from, say, random shootings or wholesale mustanging as in days past. And, who would deliver the oversight, who would pay for it, and what happens to public ownership?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for your “in depth,” article. This gal has hesitated to contribute to most of the Horse Rescue groups. The general public, unless they have an interest in horses, are unaware of their plight. If the Sierra Club, is the “choice of ceasing this madness, go for it!
    From what I have read, the State of Wyoming, is focused on oil and gas exploration; with the horses being sacrificed.
    Exposure on the mass media, is essential!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Great article! Gov. must see what really goes on with these pour horses! Round ups must be stopped, but don’t know how since there isn’t any help from Sec. Deb H. She has the power to stop this but doesn’t. Most people haven’t any idea what is going on. Mass media must help. I feel that is one way to get the word out. The horses in my opinion should all be taken out of holding facilities and back to their land. There’s enough room for them. Get rid of greedy rancher’s livestock and commercial projects. The millions of acres have seen these horses only roam on a pittance of that. Time for a big change!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Horses vs, Oil Shale, Rare Earth, Copper, Uranium, Oil, Gas, Development, Lithium, Sheep, Cattle, and even now a Nuclear Site in WY. Simple as that. They are even thinking to plow sage brush because of some excuse of weakened understory mulch?? whatever that means. Horses were given crap land to start with, now that land has commercial value. Horses valve is in removal only to “them”.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My husband and I just went to one of the wild horse holding facilities. We were shocked to see the horses kept in pens deep in manure. The horses had no choice but to lay in the feces. As Winter is approaching, the horses are growing their long Winter coats which are matted with balls of manure. There were no shelters to get out of the sun or for protection from bad weather.

    Adopters must comply with BLM rules requiring shelter but the BLM doesn’t do the same. This is really tragic.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. My husband and I just went to one of the wild horse holding facilities. We were shocked to see the horses kept in pens deep in manure. The horses had no choice but to lay in the feces. As Winter is approaching, the horses are growing their long Winter coats which are matted with balls of manure. There were no shelters to get out of the sun or for protection from bad weather.

    Adopters must comply with BLM rules requiring shelter but the BLM doesn’t do the same. This is really tragic.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mr. Simpson have you sent this article to all of our law makers? They all need to read this because most don’t know or ignore the plight of our Wild Horses & Burros. They go by what the disgusting BLM tells them. No one is really doing anything for our horses. They are being rounded up and sent to slaughter. This has to stop! If you haven’t sent this to Gov. please do.

    Liked by 1 person

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