Horse News

Wild Horse Management Plans That Fail Ecological and Economic Logic

By: William E. Simpson II

American wild horses are a native species, wildlife in North America, and are keystone herbivores that are critically important to North American ecosystems.

The ongoing failure in establishing a sustainable conservation management plan for American wild horses that is both economically and ecologically appropriate is leading to their potential extinction.

There are three wild horse management concepts being promoted, two of which are similar, the ‘Marr Plan’ and ‘Range Design’, in that these two plans propose to replace wild horses into HMAs from where they were intentionally rounded-up by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the United States Forest Service (USFS).

The third plan, known as the ‘Wild Horse Fire Brigade is unique and fresh, in that it posits the rewilding and relocating of wild horses into designated wilderness areas that are both ecologically and economically appropriate, and that are not subject to livestock grazing conflicts.

Both the ‘Marr Plan’ and ‘Range Design’ as proposed management plans for wild horses fail in two key areas; economically and ecologically.

After spending over $59-million in taxpayer dollars (FY 2021) rounding-up wild horses from HMAs, positing any plan to put them back into the areas where they were recently removed is just fairy-tale thinking and shows a total disconnect from reality.

Both plans, ‘Range Design’ and the ‘Marr Plan’, posit returning wild horses back onto HMAs.

The Wild Horse Fire Brigade plan does not posit placing wild horses into any areas where they would be commingled with livestock, or where their co-evolved predators have been depleted.

Both the Marr Plan and Range Design fly-in-the-face of sensible ecological practices and are also 180-degrees counter to powerful economic forces related to American consumerism and economics engaged in public land-use and development.

Here is an excerpt from the article titled: ‘Economics vs. Wild Horses: A Management Conundrum with A Silver Lining

Economics vs. Wild Horses: A Management Conundrum with A Silver Lining

“The extraction industry (coal, oil, gas, minerals) along with the livestock industry are merely providing what the vast super majority of Americans want. 

 The insatiable consumerism of American people is what is currently killing wild horses, and other wildlife….

 Money and ego are now the forces dictating how America runs.

 Big-pharma makes about $4.5-Trillion in annual revenue… and they too use petroleum distillates and minerals in the drugs they make and sell to Americans, some of which are extracted from public lands in America.

 To put Big-Pharma’s annual revenue into perspective: The entire U.S. Military budget ($725-B) is a small fraction of just Big-pharma’s annual revenue!

 The Agriculture Industry has an annual revenue of about $2.5-Trillion! 

 People who actually believe that elected officials, the President of the United States, the Department of Interior (DOI), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) are actually running anything, are misinformed…

 Most Americans fail to understand that, Goliath corporations with combined annual revenues that dwarf the entire budget for the U.S. Government are calling all the shots.

 Many Americans are in denial and don’t like the notion that they no longer have any genuine say in how America is run.

 So, the DOI, USDA, BLM and USFS are simply managing public lands in behalf of the massive corporations who arguably own many politicians, right up to the President…”

Many Herd Areas (‘HAs’) and Herd Management Areas (‘HMAs’) on public lands in America have been used and managed for livestock production for the past three-hundred years.

As a part of the management of these herd areas, government agencies have spent considerable time and at great expense to American taxpayers removing apex predators, which have been largely eliminated in order to maximize cost-effective livestock production.

Putting wild horses, into any area where their co-evolved predators have been virtually eliminated, guarantees there will be serious problems; short-term and long-term.

  • Without the presence of the co-evolve natural predators for wild horses, wild horses will suffer from the lack of critically important evolutionary natural selection. And this leads to genetic weakness in wild horses.


  • Keeping wild horses in areas without their natural predators will ensure that wild horses will overpopulate as a result of little or no depredation.


  • Keeping wild horses commingled with livestock in areas without their co-evolved natural predators assures the need for the obtuse use of dangerous chemical contraception and castration of stallions, which results in additional genetic erosion via artificial selective breeding, as well as continuing roundups.

The foregoing serious issues are more fully addressed in this article:

Selective Breeding of Wild Horses: Accelerating Genetic Erosion

Because of the foregoing serious flaws inherent to both the Marr Plan and in Range Design, these two concepts also propose the idealistic notion of the reintroduction of populations of apex predators, such as mountain lions, bears and wolves, into HA’s and HMA’s.

The impractical idealism as outlined in the ‘Marr Plan’ and in ‘Range Design’ are not only illogical, they fly-in-the-face of sensible, sustainable ecological practices.

Mr. Craig Downer, the promoter of ‘Range Design’, hails as an ‘ecologist’.

However, Downer’s ‘Range Design’, like that of the ‘Marr Plan’, includes replacing wild horse populations into HMAs where they have been intentionally removed at great cost to taxpayers, and into areas where the required co-evolved predators of wild horses have been virtually eliminated. Both are highly flawed concepts.

And such concepts are counter to the intentions of the managing agencies who are driven by the multinational corporations whose annual revenues are nearly $10-Trillion!

Sadly, consumerism, economics and the law of ‘supply and demand’ provide the overarching and immutable power and influence over American politics, resulting in the flawed management of natural resources in America, including wild horses and burros.

And the idealism that is promoted by wild horse activists, including by some of the gold-plated donation-funded non-profit wild horse activists, is only harming the long-term prospects for the conservation of native species American wild horses.

‘Consumers’ and consumerism are killing the planet and wild horses. And even though some people are in denial, we are all ‘consumers’ to one extent or another…

If wild horse advocates ever figured-out a way to get the 97% of Americans who demand livestock-based products, to stop buying them or use less, then there would be a different discussion on land management. But that’s never going to happen, as we see ever increasing consumer demands for more products that use resources from public lands; including; minerals, gas, oil and livestock.

In a perfect world, wild horses would have never been removed from the 53-million acres allotted and assigned to wild horses under the 1971 Act to protect wild horses and burros…

And even though the noble intentions of 1971 Act to protect wild horses and burros are timeless, its practicality has eroded over the past 50-years due to massive socioeconomic changes in America since 1971.

Furthermore, that 1971 Act drew upon science from the era of 1950s through the 1960s, some of which is outdated or has since been updated or replaced by newer findings.

Bottom line; we do not live in a perfect world, never have, never will.

Going back millennia in the history of human society and culture, we see people doing wrong, unbridled corruption in politics and government, and nothing has changed since the fall of Rome.

Our society simply puts lipstick on that pig, and moves forward, pretending everything is just fine.

We have some horse activists who are preaching for a change in the morality of our society, who are well behind the curve. Our greatest Theologists and Philosophers (a very long list of men and women) have been hard at work singing that song for centuries… what is result?

Humankind is more brutal, sinister, uncaring, greedier and ego-centric than ever.

Unfortunately, for the many practical and scientific reasons cited herein, both the ‘Marr Plan’ and ‘Range Design’ are simply non-starters, regardless of all the emotionally driven reasons anyone can list.

Recently, I was asked to do an interview with a former Wall Street lobbyist, who is now rescuing sea turtles and advocating to save wild horses. Staci-lee Sherwood and I discussed the issues, including why, for instance, ‘Range Design’ is a non-starter.


It’s just folly for anyone to think they can somehow direct a ~$10-Trillion dollar/year corporate Goliath to change how they are doing business to a less profitable model… it would probably be easier to change the orbit of the moon around the earth…

Litigation against the government and corporations have been tried ad-nausea… thousands of lawsuits have been used… and what has that achieved?

End Result: Largest roundups in recent history and wild horses circling the drain!

In order to actually save wild horses, while there’s still sand in their hourglass, we must align behind a plan that the $10-Trillion/year corporate giants will see as agreeable to them as well… that is the reality that all wild horse advocates must come to grips with.

At this 11th hour in the battle to save America’s remaining wild horses (and burros), proffering concepts that are based-upon wishful thinking and emotional drivers are non-starters, and will merely distract people from the path and plan that can actually save wild horses.

I can understand why activists like Anthony Marr (‘Marr Plan) and Craig Downer (‘Range Design’) have great difficulty grasping the economic realities:

Both men have virtually zero executive-level business experience in the world of for-profit corporate business.

This lack of requisite experience, leaves a big huge hole in their ability to fully identify and comprehend the reasons why the wild horse advocacy has failed so miserably to save wild horses and keep them unmolested, ‘wild and free’.

Even with the 1971 Act favoring wild horses in place, and after 40-years of activism and nearly $100-million in donations, free-roaming wild horses are facing their demise.

As logic dictates, the first step in solving any problem with a solution, is to first identify the root cause of the problem.

Like thousands of other wild horse advocates, Mr. Downer represents himself as having been involved with trying to save wild horses for the past 40+ years, nevertheless, wild horses are circling the drain today.

Doing the same things over and over without the desired result should be a wake-up call. The fact that’s it’s not should alarm wild horse advocates.

It’s clear that many wild horse advocates just don’t have the holistic overview of all the socioeconomic issues, as well as the science, that is requisite in order to tender a workable, practical solution. Hence, wild horses are currently worse-off than at any time in history since the passing of the 1971 Act to protect them.

This Newsweek article may help some activists to understand what’s gone wrong, and how to become more effective:

The is a genuine solution that can save America’s wild horses, with the blessings of a majority of economic stakeholders and wild horse advocates.

That solution is called ‘Wild Horse Fire Brigade’ and was cited in this article from Colorado’s Pagosa Daily Post:

In closing, wild horses desperately need an immediate practical plan this is both economically and ecologically acceptable to a majority of stakeholders, with emphasis on the corporate giants who are calling all the shots, in order to save wild horses.

The ‘NATURAL WILDFIRE ABATEMENT AND FOREST PROTECTION PLAN’ (aka: ‘Wild Horse Fire Brigade’) is a plan that rewilds and relocates wild horses into designated wilderness areas, where they will not be in conflict with livestock, and can live unmolested, in balance with natural selection, wild and free as an integral part of the public lands, pursuant to the intent of the 1971 Act

15 replies »

  1. Do you have anyone in Congress ready to push BLM to abandon “The Path Forward” & push Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Ag to be less exploiting?

    The National Western Stock Show is coming to Denver, 1/8-23/22 … is there anything we can do to promote the Fire Brigade plan there?


    • “Silent” Sen. Bennet is no friend to wild horses and burros, and will not utter a word on their status, nor his position. Hasn’t for years, can’t plead ignorance, only indifference.


  2. Hmm. Seems I am no longer welcome to comment here but trying one more time. Was just posting that “silent” Sen. Bennet is no friend to wild horses and burros, can’t claim ignorance of the issues but steadfastly refuses to even state a position regarding their fate.


    • Icy, every once in a while I have a problem commenting but its usually when I post a link. I was real impressed with Sen. Bennet after hearing him speak – a year or so ago. But I’ve also read that hes very quiet regarding our Wild Horses – disappointing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, I see my comment was eventually posted, so now is a duplicate!

        Bennet has lost my vote over his non-stance on our wild horses, he was even visiting near the Sand Wash immediately prior to the roundup which our Gov. took an unprecedented and public role in opposing. Bennet has no excuses, only silence. I expect anyone who wants my vote to at least answer what their position is on a matter of great public interest. His repeated silence is deafening, though I continue to ask, and urge others to as well.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, his reply to Mr. Simpson’s assertions against his life’s work was indeed removed without explanation. So sad, this site used to be one I frequented for current, credible and widely varied information, but no more it seems. Signing off… Thanks RT for a good run though.


      • I already get Mr. Simpson’s emails – anymore I dont usually read them – just havent unsubscribed. I assume RT might be working & not have the time to do more research here (maybe)? I’ve had comments that just never appeared – usually with WHE link – so thought it might have something to do with that – not knowing why. But for it to be here & then be removed? That I dont understand. Craig didnt say anything that could be construed as bad – just responded! I hope you dont completely sign off, Icy – as I said before – I always learn something from your comments.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t get to see Craig’s reply. Perhaps both Craig’s and Cpt.Simpson’s plan can be used. After years of fighting the BLM with whatever means we’ve had to save our wild horses some plan had better be used soon as the constant roundups and birth control are wiping out our wild horses. Both men are sincere and dedicated and have done extensive research that will hopefully help save what few wild horses are left. I am not familiar with the Marr plan.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have been facebook friends with Anthony Marr since years ago and he’s known as a vegan activist not an equine expert. The Marr plan is not going to get traction and quite frankly once they went for the lady Godiva stunt lost credibility. Animal welfare issues go nowhere in DC and business community. You need a plan they will embrace or at least not work to destroy or will will be DOA. The non profits like RTF, HSUS< ASPCA & AWHC have done nothing effective in years but rake in millions, I've written about the millions they have but don't use.

    Wild horses have been shown to prevent wild fires which kill millions of animals and cost so much to put out. If we can support for a plan that puts horses back in the wilderness along with predators to keep their population in check with the support of the ranching/energy sectors why not try. Much as I would love to be rid of both that will never happen. As long as horse advocates cling to failure and refuse to face the ugly truth the horses lose. We are at the tipping point this is the hail mary TODAY not next month not next year. I support the wild horse fire brigade it makes sense, is getting traction and seems feasible. Why waste time on failure. If you want to just listen to William talk about the fire prevention and birth control you can listen to my interview with him here

    Liked by 1 person

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