Time to ban horsemeat trade in all of North America, as investigation in Mexico uncovers horse sold as beef

by Wayne Pacelle as published on A Humane Nation

“A new study in six Mexican cities has found horsemeat in nearly 10 percent of meat products that are being sold as beef…”

American horses and burros, both wild and domestic, are NOT food animals. – photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Mexico is forging ahead on animal protection. Earlier this year, its Congress made dogfighting a felony throughout the nation. Mexico City adopted an extraordinary charter on animal protection. A number of major food retailers in Mexico have said they will change their purchasing practices to stop buying eggs and pork from operations that confine hens and pigs in small confinement cages and crates. Our Humane Society International/Mexico office and partner organizations are working hard to keep this important and strategic country trending in the right direction and to also crack down on other abuses of animals.

One of those abuses involves the slaughter of horses for human consumption. A new study in six Mexican cities has found horsemeat in nearly 10 percent of meat products that are being sold as beef or that are not clearly labeled. The samples of meat were collected from common vending points, including butcher shops, supermarkets, street markets, and street stalls.

The study, commissioned by HSI and conducted by researchers at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, also found high levels of a veterinary drug commonly prescribed for horses, clenbuterol, in some raw meat samples. Clenbuterol is not approved for food producing animals, and can be harmful to humans.

The researchers collected 433 samples of cooked and uncooked meat from an assortment of vendors across Mexico, of which nearly 10 percent tested positive for horsemeat. Samples were collected in six cities: Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Chihuahua, Mexico City, Pachuca, and San Vicente Chicoloapan. The samples included four types of meat samples (ground meat, regular tacos, crispy tacos, and thin steaks [bistec]) and were either unlabeled or labeled as beef. The samples that tested positive for horsemeat were obtained at informal selling points such as street stalls and markets, and most vendors appeared to be unaware that there was horsemeat in the products they were selling.

Mexico is the second largest horsemeat producer in the world, after China. According to the Mexican Ministry of Trade, between January and August 2017, Mexico exported almost 1,500 tons of horsemeat, worth more than $4 million, to Japan, Russia, and Vietnam. Mexico not only kills thousands of its horses for human consumption each year, but also slaughters tens of thousands of perfectly healthy American horses. U.S. kill buyers acquire working, racing, and companion horses and even children’s ponies and try to make a fast buck by funneling them to horse slaughter plants over the northern and southern borders. Just this year, as of September, kill buyers have shipped more than 60,000 horses to Canada and Mexico to be killed for human consumption.

Horses in the United States are raised as companions and partners in work and sport, and not as food animals. As a result, they are commonly treated with drugs deemed unfit for human consumption. In 2014, the European Commission suspended the import of horsemeat from Mexico to the European Union due to food safety concerns. The HSUS has documented, via undercover footage, the incredible suffering faced by animals: downed, injured horses slaughtered for human consumption despite being ill, horses suffering in export facilities on U.S. soil, and horrific welfare problems during transport. The same drugs would put at risk Mexicans, Canadians, and the Japanese, as well as visitors to those countries and others who would sit down to a horse steak – either knowingly or not. No one is immune from drugs long deemed unfit for human consumption.

Beyond the issue of self-interest and public health, Mexico should not be complicit in this grisly trade, and the United States should not use Mexico as an export market for an enterprise that’s illegal on our soil. The practice of slaughtering horses for human consumption should stop across North America. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R. 113/S. 1706, which would cement the existing prohibitions on domestic horse slaughter and build on that provision by stopping the export of horses for slaughter abroad, is just one important policy vehicle to help us achieve that goal.

The evidence that we’ve obtained in Mexico reveals that this ugly enterprise is trying to trick Mexican vendors and consumers. It’s a disreputable industry, and the country’s lawmakers should build on their recent good works and establish protections for animals who have changed the course of North American history for the better. It’s a small act of reciprocity for North Americans to honor the role of the horse in North American settlement, commerce, and recreation and end the most extreme form of human-caused exploitation of these noble animals.

P.S. Americans can take action today to protect U.S. horses from being slaughtered for human consumption. As our companions in sport and leisure, we owe it to them to make sure that their lives do not come to a terrifying end in a slaughterhouse to feed the international demand for horsemeat.

https://blog.humanesociety.org/wayne/2017/10/time-ban-horsemeat-trade-north-america-investigation-mexico-uncovers-horse-sold-beef.html?credit=blog_post_103017_id9361

Mike Hudak’s video “Ranching’s Other Victims: Free-living animals”

The video below by Mike Hudak was done in 2010, but it still applies today and is worth watching.  We also recommend you go to mikehudak.com  and read his book, “Western Turf Wars.”

Big Cattle, Big Gulp: Cowboys and cows are soaking the American West dry

Source:  New Republic

“Every stream on public lands grazed by livestock is polluted and shows a huge surge in E. coli bacterial contamination during the grazing season,” says Marvel. “No wonder we can’t drink the water.”

Marvel, who retired from WWP last year, spent two decades haranguing and suing the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the government bodies that are supposed to regulate ranching on the public domain. “Forest Service and BLM staffers see their job as the protection and enabling of ranchers. They are the epitome of what is meant by agency capture.”

by Christopher Ketcham

The American West faces its fifteenth year of low rainfall, sparse snowpack, and warming temperatures in what climatologists believe is only the beginning of a climate-change-induced megadrought that may last a century or more. Major cities across California recorded historically low precipitation levels in the last two years. At least 78 percent of the state is now categorized as suffering “extreme drought,” including the state’s Central Valley, the nation’s most productive agricultural region. California hasn’t been this dry in 1,200 years.

We tend to blame the exurban sprawl dweller for water waste. The profligate of the cul-de-sac, he obsesses over car washes, floods the Kentucky bluegrass on his lawn, tops off his swimming pool, takes the kids to water parks, and tees off at green golf courses tended among cacti. He is the wrong object of our ire, however. Personal and industrial consumption for drinking, washing, flushing, watering the lawn, detailing the car, and cooling nuclear plants, accounts for less than 10 percent of water use in the eleven arid states of the West.

We’d do better to look at what we eat when casting about for villains of the water drama. Food production consumes more fresh water than any other activity in the United States. “Within agriculture in the West, the thirstiest commodity is the cow,” says George Wuerthner, an ecologist at the Foundation for Deep Ecology, who has studied the livestock industry. Humans drink about a gallon of water a day; cows, upwards of 23 gallons. The alfalfa, hay, and pasturage raised to feed livestock in California account for approximately half of the water used in the state, with alfalfa representing the highest-acreage crop. In parts of Montana, as much as 90 percent of irrigated land is operated solely for the production of livestock feed; 90 percent of Nevada’s cropland is dedicated to raising hay. Half of Idaho’s three million acres of irrigated farmland grows forage and feed exclusively for cattle, and livestock production represents 60 percent of the state’s water use. In Utah, cows are the top agricultural product, and three-fifths of the state’s cropland is planted with hay. All told, alfalfa and hay production in the West requires more than ten times the water used by the region’s cities and industries combined, according to some estimates. Researchers at Cornell University concluded that producing one kilogram of animal protein requires about 100 times more water than producing one kilogram of grain protein. It is a staggeringly inefficient food system.

One obvious and immediate solution to the western water crisis would be to curtail the waste of the livestock industry. The logical start to this process would be to target its least important sector: public lands ranching.  READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

Feel Good Sunday: Raven the Dancing Mule

“Those of us who are blessed by being allowed to live our daily lives with God’s magical equines often see funny and goofy moments that come and go in blink, long before you can get that iPhone out of your pocket.  But in this case, the young mule Raven ensured that her guardian had plenty of time to view her antics as she attempted to impress her mother.  Gotta love um!”` R.T.


“Raven the mule is 8 weeks old and very full of herself. But watch what happens at the 25-second mark and how embarrassed she is. Turn up your audio for full effect of her snorts, grunts and groans (maybe a fart or two?). Raven is happy, healthy, joyful — you’ll notice she’s “fighting” with a small white rock and basically showing off!

Raven’s mother is Kona, a Tennessee Walker; her father is a donkey named Jack. “

Public comments needed to make sure wild horses & burros are protected in amendments to BLM’s Land Use Plans in CA and NV

(photo:  Carol Walker)

Your comments are needed to make sure wild horses and burros are protected in possible amendments to very important BLM Land Use Plans (LUPs) in California and Nevada.  You can cite this report: https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/projects/lup/90121/123510/150623/SO3353-report.pdf   (wild horses are noted on page 37, the second box from the bottom).  Tell the BLM you want our wild horse & burro herds to be maintained in viable numbers.  Per the equine geneticist hired by the BLM, Dr. Gus Cothran, the minimum wild horse and burro herd size should be 150-200 animals. Within a herd containing this number, about 100 animals would be of breeding age.  Of those 100, approximately 50 horses or burros would comprise the genetic effective population size.  Dr. Cothran has stated that 50 is a minimum number.  A higher number would decrease the chances for inbreeding.  (A decreased genetic effective population size leads to both inbreeding and the loss of alleles by genetic drift, increasing the probability of population extinction.)   Also, if the BLM skews the sex ratio to favor males, the number should be higher.

Members of the public can convey comments to the BLM via a website and via email.

For more information please contact Matt Magaletti, BLM Nevada State Office, at 775-861-6472

Source:  Elko Daily Free Press

RENO – The Bureau of Land Management announced opportunities for the public to comment and share issues on the agency’s consideration of potential amendments to its Nevada and California land use plans, specifically elements of land use plans that address greater sage-grouse conservation. Meetings cover Northern Nevada, including one slated for Elko on Nov. 8.

On Oct. 5, the Department of the Interior announced its intention to revisit land use plans in 10 western states to improve greater sage-grouse conservation and to strengthen communication and coordination between western states and the federal government. The existing plans, which were amended in 2015, provide guidance and direction to BLM managers in Nevada for the management of greater sage-grouse habitat.

The public scoping meetings will be held in Reno, Elko and Ely to provide venues in areas covered by the sage grouse plan. BLM staff will be on hand to gather information about potential issues to be considered related to any plan amendments.

Meeting Locations:

Reno

Location: The Nugget, Sierra Room 1, 1100 Nugget Ave., Sparks

Date and Time: Tuesday, Nov. 7, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Elko

Location: Elko Convention Center, 700 Moren Way, Elko

Date and Time: Wednesday, Nov. 8, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Ely

Location: Bristle Cone Convention Center, 150 W. Sixth St., Ely

Date and Time: Thursday, Nov. 9, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Members of the public can also convey comments to the BLM via a website and via email.

For more information please contact Matt Magaletti, BLM Nevada State Office, at 775-861-6472.

How much forage does the BLM allow livestock to eat on public lands vs. what they allow for our wild horses & burros?

Fax this to your Congressional Representatives:

SOURCE:  Animal Welfare Institute

“of the total number of livestock and wild horses and/or burros known or authorized to graze within HMAs and their associated grazing allotments, 1.8 percent are wild horses, 0.4 percent are wild burros and the remaining 97.8 percent are livestock.”

We encourage all people interested in public lands issues to be sure to read the Animal Welfare Institute report (2012) Overview of the Management of Wild Horses & Burros.  AWI presented this to the National Academy of Science.  Although this report was issued in 2012, the issues are all current.  This report gives an excellent overview of wild horse & burro issues and the mismanagement of the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse & Burro Program.  We will be pulling out a few excerpts for some articles, since this report counters all of the false information by sources at the recent National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board meeting, by the livestock grazing activists and in the media.

AUM is Animal Unit Month – The BLM has defined this as the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month. (AML is Appropriate Management Level)

Pages 145-149 of this AWI report indicate the following:

 Figure National – 7

For the ten western states occupied by wild horses and/or burros, BLM data reveals that the total number of authorized AUMs for 2011… included actual AUM use of 8,297,403 for cattle, yearlings and domestic bison, 53,119 for domestic horses and burros, and 708,280 for domestic sheep and goats.  The 2011 estimated combined population size for wild horses and burros within HMAs was 33,805, while the combined high AML for wild horses and burros was 26,576.
 
These figures correspond to AUMs of 31,537 (for the estimated population) and 25,225 (based on combined high AML). Consequently, the number of AUMs for livestock within the ten western states in which wild horses and/or burros are found are 287 times the AUMs based on estimated wild horse and burro population size and 359 times the AUMs for wild horses and burros based on high AML.  It is worth noting that, in a number of instances, the permitted use AUMs designated by the BLM were well in excess of the active AUM level (amount of use that could be allowed); a discrepancy that could not be explained by a BLM official.
Figure National -8
According to the BLMs Rangeland Administration database (accessed in September 2012), a total of 4,565,208 livestock (i.e., cattle and yearlings, domestic bison, domestic sheep, domestic horses and burros, and goats) have be en grazed on the estimated 669
allotments found entirely or partially within HMA boundaries within the past BLM billing cycle. This equates to 4,286,252 permitted use AUMs. When adjusted to compensate for the percentage of each allotment found within or outside of HMA boundaries, the total number of stock grazed is 1,302,259, which correlates to 1,626,450 seasonal/annual permitted use AUMs. When compared to the combined high AML for wild horses and burros for 2012, which corresponds to 299,562 annual AUM s, total livestock AUMs on HMAs is 5.4 times higher than the AUMs for wild horses and burros.
 
This is only an estimate since livestock use is not consistent across an allotment. This is because the animals tend to utilize those portions of an allotment that are most suitable in regard to water, forage, shelter, and other requirements. For the purpose of this analysis, the number of AUMs and individual livestock obtained from various BLM data sets was multiplied by the percentage of the allotment found within each HMA. Due to the lack of equal distribution of livestock a cross an allotment, these figures may under-or over-estimate actual use.
Livestock authorization and stocking rates are not static, but frequently change over time as a consequence of rangeland condition, economics, environmental factors (such as prolonged drought), changes to allotment permit conditions, changes in the type of
livestock grazed, and other factors. For the ten states that harbor wild horses and burros, livestock AUMs are highly variable. For example, based on BLM data, total livestock AUMs were 9,708,638 in 1996, declining to 9,058,802 in 2011.
In sum, based on the BLM data referenced above, 1,302,259 livestock are authorized to graze within HMAs occupied by an
estimated 24,264 wild horses and 5,017 wild burros as of February 2012. Therefore, of the total number of livestock and wild horses and/or burros known or authorized to graze within HMAs and their associated grazing allotments, 1.8 percent are wild horses, 0.4 percent are wild burros and the remaining 97.8 percent are livestock. At the state, individual HMA, or HMA complex level, these
statistics differ. Regardless of the geographic scale of the analysis, however, the number of livestock grazing on HMAs is far in
excess of the number of wild horses and/or burros.

Public comments needed on BLM’s plans to roundup wild horses on the Onaqui HMA in Utah

(Photo: BLM)

Public comments are due by Oct. 31 on a BLM Salt Lake City Field Office Scoping Notice for a roundup of wild horses in the Onaqui Herd Management Area in Utah.  Send a personal comment to  blm_ut_cedarmt_onaqui@blm.gov   and in the subject line, put Onaqui Wild Horse Gather/Population Control and Research

We are sharing this public comment written by our friend, wild horse & burro advocate (and beekeeper) Susan Rudnicki:

To: blm_ut_cedarmt_onaqui@blm.gov

BLM—           It has come to my attention that the Utah BLM is considering removing a majority of the Onaqui Mountain wild horse herd—325 horses out of a herd of 450.   This is a reckless gutting of the genetic viability of this herd, a 72% decrease that can not sustain genetic resilience, a authoritative opinion of Dr Gus Cothran, equine geneticist.

   The citation by BLM that the horses are to be removed to preserve sage grouse habitat also is not underpinned by the facts at hand.  The public is well aware of the proposal by the current administration to ACTIVELY REDUCE sage grouse habitat protection, as announced  by  Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke,  who released the recommendations of his sage-grouse “review team”.  A short summary of some of the recommendations does not seem to support the contention by Utah BLM that wild horses are a significant impact to Sage Grouse.  Instead, the list tries to damage the already concocted 5 year planning process that went into the good-faith flexibility of the 2015 Approved Resource Management Plan Amendments (ARMPAs) and test how far the Interior Department can bend the rules without getting sued. Where is the “protection of Sage Grouse”,  as purported to be driving a removal from Onaqui HMA?
   In fact, the BLM plan for wild horse removals is factually contradicted by a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service study released in 2012 that did not cite wild horses as one of the top five threats to sage grouse. Instead, it cites energy development, transmission right of ways, fire, invasive species, and commercial development as the top threats.   Interestingly, these human installations are the very things Zinke has openly committed to smoothing the way for opening on our public lands.  
 
   The round-up proposed by BLM in Onaqui would seem to be driven instead by industrial considerations, as described in the list below, gleaned from Zinke’s team list.    I am a citizen and taxpayer able to discern when scapegoats, such as the wild horses, are being used for distraction purposes.   
   The Zinke report and the forthcoming processes that will revise the ARMPAs  are determined to weaken any provisions that inhibit industry, including proposals to:
  • Narrow the buffer zones that would protect leks from fossil fuel development disturbance;
  • Remove Sagebrush Focal Area restrictions (“SFA” the most important habitat) for fluid mineral operations, and ultimately consider getting rid of SFA altogether;
  • Train staff to weaken grazing Habitat Objectives so that they are not included as terms and conditions of livestock grazing permits in key grouse habitats;
  • Encourage captive breeding of grouse and increased predator killing – which science has proven don’t work – instead of habitat protection which does; and
  • Create the false impression that livestock grazing is good for sage-grouse habitat, when in fact there is no scientific evidence that even light grazing by domestic livestock is beneficial.
   I am a astute reader and am able to discern conflicts of interest masquerading as cover for “takings”  Sage Grouse AND wild horses are protected and stand to get in the way of industrial development for private profit.
 
  The removal of the wild horses by BLM in the Onaqui HMA must change,  to focus instead on fertility control. The plan to treat 60 mares in FY2018 is not adequate to slow reproduction. Volunteers with the Wild Horses of America Foundation are ready and able to implement a larger population control program.
 
   I do not want my taxpayer dollars used on another expensive round-up and stockyard impoundment for wild horses. 
 
   Finally, per the most recent recommendation of the BLM National Advisory Board, all wild horses in holding are to be slaughtered or sold to foreign countries for slaughter in the next three years.   This is NOT acceptable to the public at large, who are granted by the 

 WILD FREE-ROAMING HORSES AND BURROS ACT OF 1971
(PUBLIC LAW 92-195)

to be the public which enjoys and oversees the animal’s protection.  Any horses taken in the Onaqui HMA could become caught in this tug of war between Federal agencies.   
 
I remain a active, informed American taxpayer,
Sincerely, Susan Rudnicki

The 22.2 million acres of Herd Areas that the BLM took away from wild horses & burros

SOURCE:  Animal Welfare Institute

AWI has repeatedly questioned the decisions to permanently remove all wild horses and burros from the range – decisions that continue to be made – without an area-by-area analysis it is impossible to verify the scientific, land use, legal, or other evidence relied on by the BLM to support its decisions.

We encourage all advocates, both new advocates and longtime advocates, to be sure to read this Animal Welfare Institute report (2012) Overview of the Management of Wild Horses & Burros.  AWI presented this to the National Academy of Science.  Although this report was issued in 2012, the issues are all current.  This report gives an excellent overview of wild horse & burro issues and the mismanagement of the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse & Burro Program.  We will be pulling out a few excerpts for some articles, since this report counters all of the false information by sources at the recent National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board meeting, by the livestock grazing activists and in the media.

As the BLM and the livestock grazing activists complain about the “overpopulation” of wild horses and burros on public lands, lets take a closer look at the 22.2 million acres that have been taken away from the wild horses & burros.

We’re hoping that other wild horse & burro advocacy groups and advocates will join us in focusing on, and fighting for, this “tool in the toolbox” that isn’t mentioned by the BLM:

Instead of killing all of our wild horses & burros that are currently in BLM holding facilities, put them back on our public lands.

Herd Areas and Herd Management Areas:

HERD AREA (HA)Upon passage of the WFRHBA, the federal government surveyed wild horse and burro populations to identify those areas where, as Congress directed, they were to be protected and managed. These areas were designated as HAs. It is not clear exactly when each area was surveyed and whether such surveys were conducted once or multiple times over the course of a year or two. Hence, it is not known if the areas originally designated as HAs for wild horses and burros encompassed sufficient range to meet the needs of the animals throughout the year. At that time, very few studies had been undertaken to understand wild horse and/or burro biology, ecology, behaviors, or habitat needs. It is probable, therefore, that the efforts made to establish wild horse and burro range were ill-informed as to the biological and ecological needs of the species.

HERD MANAGEMENT AREA (HMA)HMAs were not designated in the 1971 law. It is not clear how the BLM delineates the boundaries of HMAs. Presumably it considers geography, topography, presence of private lands, land use patterns, water availability, forage production, space, cover, and economic and political factors when establishing such boundaries. In some cases, adjoining HMAs are considered as an HMA complex and managed accordingly. Each HMA, as articulated in the BLM Handbook, is to have a Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP) to provide additional guidance on how each HMA is to be managed. It is not clear how many HMAs have corresponding HMAPs at present.

This excerpt is from pages 143-145 of the AWI report:

Since 1971 for all ten western states that provide habitat for wild horses and burros, HMA acreage represents only 58.8 percent of total HA acreage, reflecting a loss of 22,181,755 acres of potential wild horse and/or burro range.

The nearly 22.2 million acres lost to wild horses and burros includes the land lost to wild horses and/or burros as a result of decisions to “zero-out” the herds or permanently close HAs to their use.

The number of HAs affected, 172 according to 2012 data, encompass a total of 24,898,923 acres (including 19,514,123 BLM acres). Due to the net increase of 2,716,808 HMA acres compared to HA acres in the ten states, the net loss of lands is adjusted to approximately 22.2 million acres. This means that of the 245 million acres managed by the BLM and of the 157 million acres managed for grazing, only 13 and 20 percent, respectively, is available for use by wild horses and burros combined (with a much smaller percentage managed for wild burros).

Even within HMAs, however, the total land area utilized by wild horses and burros is much less, as topographic, geologic, and other factors reduce the amount of land suitable for wild horses and/or burros.

The BLM justifies the loss of the over 22 million acres of wild horse and burro habitat claiming that of the 15.5 million acres under BLM management:

  • 48.6 percent (7,522,100 acres) were closed due to a checkerboard land pattern that made management infeasible;
  • 13.5 percent (2,091,709 acres) were transferred from the BLM through legislation or exchange;
  • 10.6 percent (1,645,758 acres) had substantial conflicts with other resource values;
  • 9.7 percent (1,512,179 acres) were lands removed from wild horse and burro use as a result of court decision, urban expansion, habitat fragmentation, and land withdrawals;
  • 9.6 percent (1,485,068 acres) were lands where no wild horses or burros were present when the WFRHBA was passed in 1971 or where all animals were claimed as private property;
  • 8.0 percent (1,240,894 acres) were lands where a critical habitat component was missing, making the land unsuitable for wild horse or burro use or where too few animals existed to permit effective management.

 The remaining 6.7 million acres were never under BLM management. See Figure National 6.  Though AWI has repeatedly questioned the decisions to permanently remove all wild horses and burros from the range – decisions that continue to be made – without an area-by-area analysis it is impossible to verify the scientific, land use, legal, or other evidence relied on by the BLM to support its decisions.

The number of HAs has been variable over time. While the number of original HAs is not known, since 2005 the number of HAs has been reported by the BLM to range from a low of 134 in 2005 to 347 in 2012. However, the BLM’s own data is confusing. For example, in 2005 while reporting a total of 134 HAs the BLM separately reports a total of 317 HAs along with another 106 “HAs with no acres in HMAs.” Similarly, from 2006 through 2008, the BLM reports either 105 or 106 HAs “remaining undesignated,” though it is unclear what this means.

The number of HMAs has varied over time. While an annual record of the number of HMAs was not available, as recently as 2008 there were a total of 199 HMAs (GAO 2008). Over the past seven years, the number of HMAs has ranged from 201 in 2005 to 179 today. In some cases, HAs or HMAs were combined, contributing to a smaller number of HMAs while, in other cases, when HAs were permanently closed to wild horses and burros, a number of HMAs were lost.

 

A Biologist’s View on Wild Horse and Burro Fake News

Commentary by Robert Bauer

“…any devastation of western rangelands, is due rather to an overpopulation of cattle, which have been found to outnumber the wild horses 100 to 1…”

photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

As a biologist, I have been involved in documenting the issues concerning this nation’s wild horses for years, along with many others. While keeping in mind the emotional effect that the wild horses have on millions, both in a negative and positive way, I have also devoted myself to understanding and communicating, from an objective and scientific standpoint, the truth about wild equine. Nature has proven herself to be able to maintain a thriving natural ecological balance, untouched and unmanaged, if allowed, without artificial intervention by mankind. This, also incorporates this nation’s wild horses. Wild horses and burros are not overpopulated as many have attested, nor are they a detriment, but rather an overwhelming benefit. On our western rangelands, indeed, any devastation of western rangelands, is due rather to an overpopulation of cattle, which have been found to outnumber the wild horses 100 to 1.

Photographic evidence has shown that the grazing habits of cattle, coupled with their physiological makeup, has caused an uprooting of vegetation, as well as the destruction of riparian habitats and other water sites. This in turn has had a destructive effect on wildlife, including the wild horses who use these same natural resources. The positive effects of wild horses on our western rangelands can be understood by reflecting on these following truths.

1. It must be realized that nature through its own mechanisms is fully able to maintain natural ecological balance, without human intervention. It does this through physiological differences, found within each species inside any given ecosystem. Each of those differences, contribute as a vital factor in a broad ecological equation, allowing each species, including wild equine to fill a vital niche in the balance of nature. It also accomplishes this through the numbers or density of any given species of animal or plant within that system, in conjunction with competitive species, and the carrying capacity of the land. Sterilization and or contraceptives have been proposed to check wild equine population growth disregarding the presence of its predators, natural environmental factors, and competitive grazers. Natural predation and environmental impacts are vital in regulating the numbers of ungulates and ruminants alike in any given area. Density dependent inhibition, however, must not be ruled out and plays an important role as well. In this scenario, the numbers or density of wild equine, versus competing ruminants, as the pronghorn antelope, will each fluctuate in response to the other based upon the carrying capacity of the land, yet always in perfect balance. The Pronghorn and other ruminants, therefore, need the presence of wild horses and burros and vice versa. Each population will have the effect of keeping the numbers of another competing population at levels that are ideal for the carrying capacity of the land. As an added note, it is deep in my heart to convey the truth that nature through its own mechanisms is fully able to maintain natural ecological balance, without human intervention to adjust it, even though it is necessary to monitor nature, communicate those facts, for the purposes of adjusting mankind to accommodate nature so that it can be itself.

2. Within the physiological and behavioral makeup of the wild horses and burros, there also exist what could be called self-regulating mechanisms. These mechanisms serve to govern reproduction and subsequent population growth or the lack thereof. An increase in the gestation period of wild horses, (delayed implantation), and spontaneous abortion come into play during periods of environmental stress within a system, as well as selective breeding by a stallion within a band, if indeed the stallion breeds at all. In short, environmental stress has the overall effect of limiting reproduction. Added to this are annual mortality rates established in a NAS study which range between 14% to 50% in wild horses up to 1 year, and 5% to 25% for horses older than this. These above mechanisms do, indeed maintain the proper density of wild horses in any given area, perfectly, in balance with competitive grazers and predators. It does this without sterilization, without the PZP contraceptive, and without roundups. It therefore establishes at any given time, nature’s own appropriate management levels, levels which nature adjusts continually, based on the above biological factors.

3. Also, what must be understood is that nature is dynamic, and not static. This infers that it continuously fluctuates and adjusts itself, through its own feedback loops, from the molecular, all the way up the scale of organisms. Because it is dynamic and not static means that its functions cannot be confined to finite thinking, and fixed statistics but must be allowed, through its own mechanisms to maintain itself, hands off, so to speak. In other words, nature cannot be limited at any given time to a given number, or average of numbers, that mankind deems appropriate. An example of this is the Bureau of Land Management’s, “Appropriate Management Level”, of wild horses in their legally designated lands. Mankind’s sole responsibility must be focused on keeping the restrictions off nature, so that nature can be itself, and not an offspring of man’s seemingly brilliance. The moment mankind seeks to alter nature according to a fixed number, or an average of numbers, is the moment that nature and balance itself begins to break down. At first it occurs little by little, yet as artificial alteration persists, the breakdowns become greater and greater. This has occurred in every branch of nature, where mankind has endeavored to manage natural balance, assuming nature to be static and not dynamic.

4. Another issue that must be considered is that the numbers of the wild horses remaining in the wild are not even in the teens of thousands anymore, contrary to the assertions to the contrary. This statement may seem bold yet is based upon Bureau of Land Management statistics, factoring in reproduction, PZP, adjustment of sex ratios, and the thousands of wild horses and burros that have been continually removed. Factored in also, are mortality rates, already mentioned above, both first year and adult, that nature herself applies. These issues combined, have driven numbers in most areas out west down to levels where genetic viability has been compromised and far below total numbers that the BLM have stated as still existing in the wild. Also, with continued use of the PZP contraceptive, population growth will be driven down even further. Reproduction will continue to decrease dramatically because of PZP, but mortality percentages will remain the same. With the use of the contraceptives, or sterilization methods, therefore, mortality will completely overwhelm reproduction, accelerating population decline in our wild equine.

5. It is said by some that because of the vast removals, nature compensates with a population explosion of wild horses, serving to reinforce the elevated population claims. Incorporated into this thought, are low levels of predators, in many areas. It must be remembered, however, that the varied mechanisms of ecological balance do not work independently of each other, but always in concert. Where one mechanism may lack, as the predators, other facets of balance will engage more vigorously yet always governed by the carrying capacity of the land. Predator, Prey studies and statistics have consistently affirmed that predator numbers and prey numbers follow each other. Simply speaking, when prey numbers are high, nature compensated by increased numbers of predator species. The opposite is true also. When predator species decrease, density dependent inhibition engages more vigorously, causing the prey species, in this case wild horses, to reach a limit based upon the carrying capacity of the land, and then decrease in number. Equine mortality on the range, as mentioned above is shown to be very high in the first year of life, not to mention adult mortality, again not all by predators. This and common sense reproductive facts of wild horses, oppose every allegation of population explosions in wild horses.

6. The free roaming habits and social behavior of the wild horses and burros, allow them to harmoniously coexist with every competing ruminant. Their physiological makeup coupled with continual movements have a revitalizing effect on soil and vegetation. This in turn positively impacts other grazers, and subsequently predators as well, who prey upon them. The presence of wild equine in a multitude of ecosystems has proven to result in a beneficial cascade effect, rejuvenating entire areas where they have been reintroduced, both in terms of flora and fauna. This has been documented in many geographical locations throughout the world. Noting these indisputable facts, the wild horses and burros can without question be considered a keystone species. Removing our native equine from their legally designated areas and or tampering with their numbers has and will continue to have a reverse and detrimental effect on our western rangelands.

Conclusion. The answer to ecological balance, therefore, in our western ranges doesn’t lie in experimentation, sterilizations, contraceptives, adjustment of ratios, the institution of removals, or mass euthanasia. The answer lies in the termination of all roundups and a release of the wild horses and burros, in holding facilities, back into the areas from where they were taken. All that is necessary for a “Thriving Natural Ecological Balance”, is to keep the restrictions off nature, and allow her to regulate herself untouched.

The wild horses and burros will continue as the powerful symbol of this nation’s freedom, yet vital components of ecological balance if, and only if, we allow nature alone, through its own dynamic methods to dictate the numbers in the wild that are to exist, at any given time.

Robert C. Bauer
Biologist

The BLM, Uranium and the Pryor Mountains: a perfect mix for a Collusion Cocktail

Jerry Finch and I were onto the Uranium Collusion back in 2009, and no one did anything…now the truth is hitting mainstream media 8 years after we reported it. What a travesty.

Straight from the Horse's Heart

by Jerry Finch and R.T. Fitch

So out of the clear blue sky the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decides to round up the small, yet internationally famous, wild horse herd in the Pryor Mountains, MT while the public screams stop and they refuse to listen.  We think that there is something that does not smell, or taste, just quite right, here.

It would be a real stretch of imagination for us to question the integrity of a government agency, like the BLM, simply because it has repeatedly violated federal law, laughed at our law makers and thumbed it’s nose at the will of the American people while failing to live up to one of it’s prime directives; that of protecting our national treasure, our publicly owned wild horses on publicly owned land.

No, we wouldn’t do that.

Uranium, is it holding our wild horses hostage and who is behind the plan?

Nor would we cast aspersions on a company that holds the rights…

View original post 741 more words