Horse News

Blaming Wild Horses For the Spread of Invasive Species Weeds is a Twisted Tale

By: William E. Simpson II

In a paper titled ‘Potential spread of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) by feral horses (Equus ferus caballus) in Western Colorado’ by Kate Schoenecker and Daniel Manier, who work for the United States Geologic Service, wild horses are alleged as the problem in regard to the spread of invasive species plants and grasses.

A wild foal begins life as one of Nature’s evolved re-seeders. Photo: William E. Simpson II

It is a fact, native species wild horses are evolved re-seeders of native plants and grasses in North America, and invasive species ungulates (cattle and sheep) and not.

This is one of many reasons why wild horses should not be managed on the landscape commingled with cattle and sheep, and must be managed in separate remote ‘designated’ critical wilderness areas (true wilderness vs. traditional grazing lands) in a manner that is ecologically and economically appropriate. More about wild horse ecology HERE
In most ‘critical’ or ‘designated wilderness’ areas, where in most cases there is no cheat grass (yet), because it hasn’t yet been imported into these areas by livestock producers, horses are the ideal wildfire grazers, and reseed native species plants and grasses as co-evolved keystone herbivores.
In areas that have been long-used (up to 300-years in some areas) for livestock grazing, where cheat grass (and other invasive weeds, I.E. Yellow Star Thistle; Centaurea solstitialis L.) were introduced and spread by livestock producers feeding hay (distributing it over the landscape) that was baled in valleys filled with invasive weeds and grass, and then imported into other areas to augment livestock feeding, we find extensive spread of invasive weeds and grasses that resulted from seeds distributed by birds and the wind.
The introduction and spread of invasive species plants and grasses from contaminated bales of hay being hauled into remote areas for livestock was the genesis of the spread of invasive species plants and grasses. From there, the seeds spread, and that practice still continues in many areas today.
It’s clear, the problem was not initiated by wild horses.

1 reply »

  1. According to the late Dr. George Gaylord Simpson the horse as eohippus was present in the Willwood section of the Western United States during the Wasatchian period of the Eocene Epoch. This approximately 60 million yrs ago (100-101) according to Simpson’s 1951 edition printed by Oxford of New York. According to Dr. Simpson and other authors, the horse was present in North America during every epoch while spreading to Europe and Asia in the form of his ancestors. Paleontologists often speak of. North and South America as the New World while Asia and Africa represent the Old World. The horse ancestors are present in the New World from the Eocene on. However, as Dr. Simpson and others point out there are times during climate extremes when the horse and other mammals usually found present with the horse disappear from the continent while they spent the harshest times f the new climate in areas where they found refugia. Refugia is not exactly like home. The homeland is always better. We know this because the horses and other animals such as mammoth ancestors always return to North America. No matter how long the disruption may have lasted the horse always returned to his or her homeland in North America.

    The horses will survive in the wild lands like other wildlife herbivores. The deserve access to land owned by the US tax payers. The wealthy ranchers don’t. They should have no favored access to land in the United States. They should have to buy their land like other families and corporations. It should be illegal for ranchers to get special deals for raising cattle that they sell in foreign markets for the most part. It should also be illegal for foreign countries to buy US natural resources or any land in the United States. We sell foreign countries critical US natural resources such as uranium are now owned by our country’s enemies.

    Liked by 1 person

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