Where are all the wild horses? Little to celebrate in a milestone year

A band leader stallion from the Northern Pine Nut Mountains HMA.
A band leader stallion from the Northern Pine Nut Mountains HMA. He appears to be of Shire lineage. © Craig C. Downer

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the unanimously passed Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFHBA). Wildlife ecologist and wild horse and burro advocate Craig C. Downer says what is happening on the rangelands, where wild horse numbers have been driven down and in many cases eliminated entirely from legally recognised herd areas, is the opposite of what the Act intends.

I was out in the northern Pine Nut Mountain wild horse Herd Management Area (HMA) on Christmas Day and took a long hike. I was hoping to see at least a few healthy bands of wild horses, but this, their legal habitat, was largely empty of wild horses. Finally, I was able to see a couple of dark horses near some groves of trees at the base of the steeper incline. I saw another group of three also very close to the edge of the incline.

My point is that the vast majority of the wild horses I am accustomed to seeing here for years are gone, having been removed by BLM and its contractors. Now, other interests will have even more forage for their livestock, animals who are not allowed to adapt naturally, but are put on to eat all the grass and other forage and then taken off to be fattened and slaughtered, thus robbing the natural ecosystem.

What is happening is all the opposite of what the WFHBA intends. We must restore the wild horses to the Pine Nut Mountain HMA and not reduce them to tiny remnants then PZP or GonaCon the hell out of the few mares that are left — which is what is happening in the once healthy and thriving Pine Nut Mountain HMA that is governed by Carson City BLM District and Nevada BLM.

There is also terrible vehicle damage to this ecosystem, which the BLM is doing nothing about. Sometimes the ORVers actually chase the wild horses. I saw one such very probably dismal result in a dead young stallion whose leg and hip had been broken and who was nosed up into a Pinyon tree to die back when I did my comprehensive ecological and herd investigation of the Pine Nut Mountain HA/HMA herd and habitat in 2015.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the WFHBA and the wild horses and burros must be restored to truly viable population levels as must their legal habitats, but the current policies being enacted, hypocritically called “a path forward” appear hell-bent on practically eliminating the wild and naturally living herds and terribly altering the fitness and natural integrity of those non-viable vestiges that would remain.

I am familiar with many of the herds throughout the West and have striven since boyhood to have these wonderful animals protected as viable populations in viable habitats.

I knew and worked with the legendary Wild Horse Annie and have studied and written several articles and two books about them.

A wild stallion from the Pine Nut Mountain area of Nevada. 
A wild stallion from the Pine Nut Mountain area of Nevada. © Craig C. Downer (2017)

The Bureau of Land Management in the Department of the Interior, together with the US Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture, is charged by the WFHBA to preserve, protect and defend, as well as manage, America’s wild equid herds wherever they were found in 1971, which means in their year-round habitats, on those lands under these agencies’ jurisdictions, yet the great majority of the legal BLM Herd Areas and USFS Territories have been “zeroed out,” ie, officials have decided not to manage wild equids there.

Then, very unfairly, these agencies have assigned outrageously low so-called Appropriate Management Levels (on average amounting to one individual horse per 1000-plus acres) to those areas they claim will still have “healthy” herds, yet which are at genetically non-viable levels, and often administered fertility drugs that alter their fitness and ability to survive and suppress their individual well-being. These agencies have even approved cruel ovariectomies in the field that would undoubtedly cause terrible suffering and death to the mares so mercilessly victimized. This is happening in the Confusion herd of western Utah today.

Section 2c of the WFHBA clearly states that the wild horses and burros will receive the “principal” resources in their legal areas, but the opposite is happening as our public officials, along with the wild horses’ and burros’ chief enemies, appear to persistently sabotage the true and noble spirit and intent of this wonderful law. They are supposed to be protected and provided for as “integral” components of the public lands ecosystem and to be recognized as “contributing to the diversity” of species in our nation – which is abundantly proven and true.

As a native Nevadan who grew up riding a chestnut horse named Poco and searching out herds throughout the West, I possess a profound appreciation of naturally living horses and burros. I recognize that every horse or burro is “wild at heart,” ie, much more natural than domesticated, or altered by us humans. As I progressed in my studies and observations, I realized that their ancestral roots trace back deeply – even millions of years – into North American history and that this continent is their evolutionary cradle.

Furthermore, as I acquired a deeper understanding of the unique biology and ecological niche of members of the Horse Family as well as other Perissodactyla (my specialty), I realized that horses and burros were very important in restoring balance in many North American ecosystems. One prime specific is that they provide a much-needed balance to all the many ruminant-digesting, cloven-hoofed herbivores, such as cattle, sheep and deer that are often foisted in excessive numbers onto public and private lands to be “harvested” – thus depriving the ecosystems that sustained them of what would naturally be recycled in the form of their mortal remains.

Members of a wild horse band on the Pine Nut Mountain HMA in western Nevada.
Members of a wild horse band on the Pine Nut Mountain HMA in western Nevada. © Craig C Downer

Furthermore, horses and burros restore soils by contributing less degraded organic matter in their feces, and also more intact seeds of a greater variety. This makes soils more nutrient-rich and water-retaining – which bolsters water tables and species diversity – and they do this to a superior degree when compared with the ruminants. Also, of critical importance, is their role in reducing flammable vegetation and, thus, mitigating catastrophic wildfires, now alarmingly increasing through Global Warming.

These equid species are natural healers and enhancers of ecosystems, and they must not continue to be cruelly eliminated from their legal areas, or nearly so, and imprisoned in spirit-killing corrals and holding pastures. These are real concentration camps of misery and death, as I have so often observed. My book The Wild Horse Conspiracy and my articles, including scientific and peer-reviewed, are available online or via my website, thewildhorseconspiracy.org, along with extensive reports and reference sources.

As a professional, I have elaborated a plan for restoring these wonderful animals at genetically viable population levels. This strategy would allow each herd to naturally adapt to its unique ecosystem and to harmoniously self-stabilize its numbers as its ecological niche is filled. I explain in my Reserve Design proposal how this can be done and why it would be the most humane and honorable “path forward”. Reserve Design would truly fulfill the noble and progressive Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, rather than make a mockery of it – as is presently happening!

This Reserve Design proposal is a Go Fund me project that I have been working on for several years, but it needs to become the policy of those agencies charged with upholding the WFHBA. If these agencies continue their policies toward America’s last wild horses and burros, then an amendment to the law should be passed to create a separate, autonomous agency that would restore these magnificent “national heritage species” throughout the West in and around their legal areas, including through the formation of benign Cooperative Agreements permitted by the Act’s Sections 4 and 6.

Wild horse and burro herd and habitat restoration through Reserve Design needs to happen in 2021. This would give us all something to genuinely celebrate at the 50th Anniversary of this noble and life-restoring Act. I have a Move On petition (Stop the Excessive Roundups) that I am planning on delivering to Congress, pertinent BLM and USFS officials as well as to the President in 2021. America needs to restore – not continue to torture and obliterate their naturally living horses and burros and over-exploit its habitats.

The intrinsic value and majesty of these naturally living horses and burros are one with the very soul of America. We must not break our treaty with them.

31 thoughts on “Where are all the wild horses? Little to celebrate in a milestone year

  • January 2, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    Craig Downer and I agree on many things. And I applaud his work and intentions. In fact he’s been to my wildlife-wild horse preserve (home) where I live and study the behavioral ecology of the local wild horses and their impact of wilderness landscape and wildfire. Craig has done so on a couple of occasions, and I consider him a friend.

    However, as the posited ‘herd design’ is proposed at Craig’s GoFundMe cite, I am very concerned that energy is being spent with the best intentions, but with disregard to some very important practical considerations.

    Most of the areas of interest for ‘range design’ being cited in the proposed ‘design’ are areas that are quite likely to be totally taken over by livestock enterprises within the next 20-years. And maybe in some cases, the extraction industries, given the potentials for minerals, gas and oil in some of those areas.

    The monumentally powerful interests have already invested heavily in the serious reduction or in some cases, the elimination of the naturally evolved predators of wild horses, and not going to back away or loss money for their shareholders (many are average Americans who have stock market accounts), and they have done so to reduce livestock losses to predators and increase profits. Asking these kind of people to make less money is a waste of time… and if the situation wasn’t so sad and dire, it would be laughable.

    Having worked in the world of entrepreneurial enterprise and as the CEO of a small corporation (Internet company with 107 full-time in-house employees) that was funded by Wall Street, Bear Stearns and Silicon Valley Bank, I understand the political-economics of market pressures (consumerism) better than people who lack the empirical experience at that level of corporate finance to fully appreciate the Law of Supply and Demand.

    The primary point that Craig misses, is the tens of $-Billions/annually in economic pressures just from the U.S. livestock industry on the public lands (forgetting extraction industries). The people that own the livestock interests; corporations, investors and banks, as well as the industries supplying products to livestock operations (I.E. Monsanto, Cargil, et.) are not going to repopulate areas that have already been, or are planned to be ‘zeroed-out’ of equids. Instead they employee an army of lobbyists at every level of government.

    There is a very simple, ecologically sensible and economically appropriate path to save wild horses (and burros).

    Here is a link to an article I wrote, and is unfortunately not published here, but is available online here: https://pagosadailypost.com/2020/12/14/opinion-wild-horses-in-america-hard-truths-sensible-solutions/

    The same article also appeared as a feature article at the Medford Tribune, here: https://mailtribune.com/lifestyle/wild-horses-in-america-hard-truths-and-final-solution

    There are more than 10-million acres of wilderness areas that are devoid of livestock (never will be suited to livestock operations due to terrain and existing predators; both of which increase the cost of goods sold too much). These areas have abundant water and forage resources and have reasonable populations of the evolved predators for wild horses, which will through evolutionary design, maintain the genetic vigor of wild horses through the natural process of Natural Selection, as well as keeping wild horse populations in balance without any expensive, non-sustainable, made-made and conceived population control schemes like PZP or GonaCon.

    ‘Range Design’ could ostensibly be used in the existing wilderness areas I have identified (ranging in size from 500,000 acres, to 1-million acres), which are ecologically and economically appropriate areas for rewilding wild horses (and burros). ‘The Natural Wildfire Abatement And Forest Protection Plan’ (aka: Wild Horse Fire Brigade) can be found, along with award-winning natural history wild horse documentaries, and more at: http://www.WHFB.us

    William E. Simpson – Naturalist / Rancher
    Bona-fides at: http://www.WHFB.us

    • January 4, 2021 at 8:50 am

      Bill and are in agreement on many points as concerns how positively the naturally living horses benefit ecosystems, greatly mitigate & often even prevent severe and destructive wildfires, and their high-vibrational uplifting presences that really enhances our quality of life. However, I do not believe that we should just “throw in the towel”, or give up, on all those millions of acres that should be the legal and inhabited habitats of the wild equids. We should not just relinquish these to the exploiters. Remember the WFHBA was hard won & had a great vision fifty years ago. This vision — my friend Wild Horse Annie’s vision — must not be abandoned! One point here is of critical significance: many of these public lands industries are terribly exacerbating Global Warming. And if we are to extricate ourselves from the life-threatening predicament we as part of precious Life on Earth are in, we will definitely need to restore the Public Lands Ecosystems, and the wild equids are great restorers of these ecosystems in so many places. Restoring the true intent of the WFHBA, i.e. restoring the herds and their habitats, will restore balance and counteract the life-threatening, out-of-control heating that is now occurring on our home planet. But we must be brave and audacious to accomplish this crucial goal. It is very important that we stand up to tunnel vision, profit-fixated & root-bound people who have become like destructive monsters in their heedless actions that parasitize the world of Nature. They and really we all need to change how we make a living, so that our lifestyle becomes nature-attuned and in harmony. So much of the future of life depends upon all of us doing so. By learning to share the land and freedom with the wild horses and burros, collectively we will be doing ourselves as individuals and as societies a great service by becoming better Earth citizens. We will be saving the natural life community upon which we all depend from utter desolation and far into a brighter future — for future generations and greater times and their realizations yet to come! We must keep alive this vision and make it live. We can do it! I know we can!

      • January 4, 2021 at 8:50 pm

        Hello Craig:

        Thanks for the Christmas card! I trust you got ours too?

        Insisting on what is economically impractical and socially impossible will only end up strapping even more obtuse band-aids and work-arounds upon the well-being of native species American wild horses. And ultimately, short of a real solution, pushing them off the cliff and into extinction.

        The Agri-Production business (excluding extraction industries) in the United States now represents One-$-TRILLION in annual gross profits to Americans.

        Keep in mind, these corporations pay dividends to millions of small family and individual investors, school teacher’s investment funds, public employee funds, etc.
        The trickle-down of Ag industry profitability to average Americans working in all kinds of different non-Ag jobs is in the tens of millions of people.

        Do the research: https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/gdp-from-agriculture

        I became a vegetarian in 1971 while attending Oregon State University as a pre-med science major, thinking then by boycotting livestock products (meat), we could feed the world. Then there were about 2% of Americans making vegetarianism their way of contributing to the good of the planet. Today, half a century later, only 3% of Americans are vegetarians. And I would bet in another half century, we might see it rise to 4% of Americans.

        When Wild Horse Annie spearheaded the 1971 Act into Law, the total Agri-Production GDP of America was only about $20-Billion… about 2% of today’s river of money. And the tide from the river floats millions of boats.

        Platitudes are not going to change the demands for livestock products from ~325-million Americans (of the 340-million in America).

        The demands by Americans (focus on that; it’s Americans, who are buying livestock end products) is the source of pressure on public lands, wilderness, forests and of course, wildlife including wild horses. It’s people!

        Large corporations would go out of business overnight if People just stopped buying their products…. but the vast majority of people are not going to give up their burgers and other livestock products… and wishful fantasies won’t get it done.

        The elephant in the room is the American Consumer. Consumerism (American people) is the source of the pressure on the public lands, and without that, there would be far less pressure to utilize public lands for livestock products to meet American demands.

        That leaves one realistic and practical solution. HERE:

        Best Regards, Bill

        William E. Simpson II – Naturalist

        • January 5, 2021 at 10:21 am

          Plant Based Diets are on the rise; everyday a Vegetarian or Vegan is born; the demand will not be there; an overabundance of Cattle at feed lots; there are millions of acres or Wild mustangs not being used; I would like to see both types of Herd Reserve Design; extreme wilderness; and Craig Downer’s Reserve Design plan to utilize the Mustang + Burros Designated Herd Areas; ps to Craig I shared your Petition; thanks and be well; Happy New Year; Anne White~

          • January 7, 2021 at 9:43 am

            Thanks so much, Anne. I greatly appreciate your balanced approach. I also think that veganism and vegetarianism is greatly gaining as people wake up to the horrors of what the animal production industry is causing both to the animals and to the Earth’s ecosystems, and this also involves the production of heat trapping gasses that if left uncontrolled will spell the demise of life on Earth. Wake up people, before it is too late! Happy New Year, I pray, Anne. Your friend, Craig. Thanks for sharing my petition. I just changed the President’s name.

        • January 7, 2021 at 7:46 pm

          Thanks Bill. Still merely continuing to support a nature abusing lifestyle will only exacerbate the situation. For this reason I advocate for major changes that could be phased in through education and working with the people in an inoffensive way. Reserve Design and Rewilding will be key to this life-saving process. We must focus on the positive vision and not look back. And as before but now in a much more respectful way, the horses and we humans shall coordinate in unison to accomplish a crucial life saving feat.

  • January 2, 2021 at 7:55 pm

    Greatly appreciate the publishing of my plea for justice for my country America’s wild naturally living horses and burros. So much that is being broadcast about them is based on an obscured “target mentality” that makes it impossible for people to see and understand clearly the great intrinsic value of the wild, naturally living horses and burros and all the good they truly do. As the 50th anniversary of the WFHBA, 2021 must be the Turnaround Year for Restoring these magnificent animals to their rightful niche, life-restoring role, land and natural freedom and integration. We can do it, but we must care enough to put for the requisite effort. Happy and Progressive New Year!

    • January 4, 2021 at 8:54 am

      Thanks so much, RT! Let’s keep going on this!

  • January 3, 2021 at 1:15 pm

    Let 2021 be the year that we turn things around for America’s wild horses and burros — the year in which we stop the roundups and have Reserve Design implemented as the new management-model. The designation of a new administrative entity for the wild-horse-and-burro program, with all-new staff who come to their jobs with an open mind and a heart for horses, will certainly be necessary.

    • January 4, 2021 at 8:56 am

      Thanks Marybeth. Yes we definitely need new people with new directives … people who actually care about the horses and burros and their rightful place in the world of nature. Keep up your great work to this end.

  • January 3, 2021 at 2:06 pm

    WELFARE RANCHERS MUST GO…The wild horses and burros should be preserved at all cost.

  • January 3, 2021 at 5:58 pm

    I posted this message/petition to Fb and Messenger. Lately I’ve been disappointed not seeing many wild horses between Silver Springs and Fernley. I agree that a separate autonomous agency outside the biased purview of the BLM be set up for the protection of these magnificent animals.

    • January 4, 2021 at 9:00 am

      Thanks so much, Steve! So sorry to hear these horses are also disappearing. There is a very nefarious and sinister movement now and those of us who care must act to stop this. Glad you agree on the autonomous agency with authority to really protect the naturally living horses and burros and staffed by people who really believe in their rights to live naturally and recognize how positive they are in the magnificent world of nature.

    • January 4, 2021 at 9:01 am

      Thanks so much, Carol! And keep up your wonderful rescue work for the burros.

  • January 4, 2021 at 7:29 am

    You bet, R.T. People must learn to share the land and freedom with such magnificent beings as the horses and burros and stop being so closed-minded and -hearted and selfish! This would save precious life on Earth and save themselves as well, but healing our relation with the great Rest of Life. And this applies to everyone, regardless of social or economic status, for we are all living creatures upon this Earth and must learn to respect all our interrelationships. I believe American and the world can do this and sometimes it takes a crisis time to compel the most needed reforms, transforming and positive progress in the truest sense of the word. America is not an Oligarchy, i.e. rule by the rich, but a democracy, and even more it is not just a exclusively human centered place, but a natural ecosystem overseen by the higher dimensions. Happy New Year.

  • January 4, 2021 at 2:14 pm

    Craig Downer’s article shows among other things just how extensive many of the zero-out campaigns have been on the wild horses. Despite many claims to the contrary, the wild horse population is far below what it was in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and far lower than the amount of land allocated to the wild horses has been far below what is fair and legal.

    Among the many other benefits they provide, the wild horse’s uniquely suited digestive systems help to reseed and enrich the soils, which helps promote native grasses, flora and fauna. A number of wildlife ecologists have pointed out that this enriching of the soil helps to mitigate the risk of wild fires. This is a critical benefit, given the dangerous effect that climate change is having on increasing the amount of dry tinder and the probability of wild fires.

    In addition, the wild horses’ digestive system, by channeling in-tact seeds into the ground, effectively replenish carbon molecules into the soil and thereby sequester significant amounts of carbon which are fed back into the ecosystem. Over time, this and other ecologically sustainable practices will help decrease global temperatures and in doing so will help to mitigate the effects of climate change and temperature rise on earth.

    We need to allow nature to restore itself–otherwise, the increase in temperatures will negatively impact the entire ecosystem in the American West and beyond and the likelihood of intensive wild fires will increase in frequency and magnitude. Preserving the wild horses and other species that promote native grasses and flora will help nature to do so, and will thereby help preserve the entire ecosystem of the West.

    To the extent that it would be beneficial at times to prevent the wild horses from going into certain areas, a number of wildlife ecologists have advocated for a system of natural barriers utilizing the conservation method known as Reserve Design.

    Others who are making proposals which would effectively herd the wild horses into areas that have been ceded by some of the major industries that want the wild horses removed is a minimalist approach that would abandon the true intent of the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 which specified that the wild horses and burros should be assigned a certain, specified allocation on our public lands and that the US Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service should protect them.

    • January 5, 2021 at 8:17 am

      I agree with much of this; the 1071 Act expressly prohibits relocating our wild horses and burros to areas other than what they defined at that time as “where then found” so Mr. Simpson’s otherwise logical arguments are illegal at face value. Worse, they abandon along with the letter of the law the intent, which was to protect and preserve forever these wild animals in their native habitats on PUBLIC LAND. Purging them to placate (admittedly powerful) a few corporate interests in my view is a violation of the public trust.

      We do need better approaches to management, as well as independently verified population audits (as the original law required) and to this I would add credible calculations of AMLs, which are somehow called “appropriate” without consideration for the numbers of privately owned livestock and other interests which generate much larger and lasting ecological impacts in the areas upon which our wild horses and burros are by law to have primacy in resource allocation. That this doesn’t happen is a systemic problem, not a human or animal problem, in my view.

      We are all trapped in an unsustainable system and need better strategies if we are to ever escape them, and especially to do so before there are no longer any “wild, free-roaming” wild horses and burros in naturally reproducing herds left on our public lands.

      I would like to see both Capt. Simpson’s and Craig Downer’s ideas realized in the form of pilot projects to enable more informed and less politically charged decisions going forward. The public is either not paying attention or is kept intentionally confused by our current system; those who can game it will always do so. As I see it, it is on us and our elected officials to instigate equitable—and scientifically solid—systemic changes.

      At a bare minimum it is perfectly logical to segregate livestock (who are already permitted to graze almost 90 percent to the wild equids’ 12 or so percent of grazable USFS and BLM lands) from our wild horse management areas. This “management” has created endless and needless conflict, for which the animals and the public endlessly pay. Further, segregation would enable field monitoring that would have actual value, in that precise alterations could be documented that exclude one species from the other. This information could then be used to more sustainably determine population thresholds and more humane (and more fiscally and ethically responsible) management actions.

      Abandoning our public lands and its treasures to the incessant demands of profiteers defeats the original purpose of setting aside public lands for future generations to enjoy, and yes, harvest responsibly. Thus moving our wild horses and burros off and into “wilderness” areas where they may or may not survive defeats this, as does turning our public lands into isolated “reserves” where the hand of man is as invisible as possible. We have to do the hard work to figure out how we can share this planet, and especially our public lands, in an equitable, defensible, and sustainable fashion. No easy answers!

      I can offer a few suggestions: following the guidance of Pope Francis we would do well to remind ourselves to care for our common home, for ourselves and for those who follow us. Commodification of all life forms cheapens all life forms. One small step would be to engage the public in more meaningful ways regarding our public lands. As things stand now, we have a few thousand self-serving interests thwarting the heritage which belongs to over 325 million of us today. As another step, I am encouraging all to consider the new year and new era we are entering as “the Empathocene” wherein we may all more truly recognize and value not only each other, but all of creation in our shared world.

      • January 5, 2021 at 10:22 am

        The Wild Horse Free roaming act 71 Prohibits “capturing or branding Wild Mustangs”; corruption !!!

      • January 7, 2021 at 10:12 am

        Thanks so much, NMC, for your thoughtful and balanced comments. So much that will happen in our world and to the life that remains here, all of which has been heavily impacted by our human species, depends upon the values, priorities and goals that individual people adopt in life. If these remain so exclusively selfish and fixated on short-term indulgences and aggrandizements, then, barring a Higher Intervention, it appears the precious Life of Planet Earth is on an inevitable path to destruction. People must observe and respect the world of Nature that in fact supports our Earthly lives. We do not live in a plastic bubble. If we cannot pull out of the short-sighted and hedonistic, self-indulgent lifestyles we have adopted, again, we are only dooming our future here, and may soon end up leaving a sterile, lifeless, boiling planet as our legacy. I pray to God to save and restore the great harmony and true loving relations that should be realized between and among all individuals and all kinds, or species, and all regions of our beautiful world BY INSPIRING A TRUELY ENLIGHTENED ATTITUDE AND CONCEPTION AMONG US HUMANS IN PLACE OF SO MUCH DARKNESS AND SELF-DECEIPT!

    • January 7, 2021 at 9:49 am

      Thanks much, Mr. Bradly: You are well attuned to what is happening and the true nature of the naturally living horses and how they greatly benefit the life community. If we people don’t soon wake and allow the species to heal the serious wounds we have caused to life on Earth, the consequences will be so very tragic. Let’s be proactive and not just go along with the same old intransigent traditions that are killing the precious life of this planet.

  • January 7, 2021 at 7:19 am

    Wild Horses and burros are truly amazing in their impact upon any ecosystem that they happen to dwell in, as a keystone species. Craig is absolutely correct in that they not only preserve vegetation, by the clipping action of their incisors, thus leaving the roots, but also regenerate vegetation , due to their free roaming habits, throughout the entire ecosystem that they live in, due to the postgastric digestion, thus not only spreading seeds but also building up the humus content of the soil, ie, nutrient upgrades as well as water retention, wherever they migrate. This in turn attracts not only coexisting ruminants, but also as well predators to these areas. This dynamic effect on the areas that they reside is truly keystone in nature, which can be seen in mutiple systems throughout the world where wild horses reside or have been restored. The result has an amazing effect upon balance, where both predator as well as ruminants along side these equine ungulates helps not only increase, and fill the ecological niches that each one fills, but also stabilizes their numbers, according to the carrying capacity of the land. Add to this the fact that the diet of wild horses helps reduce dryer vegetation. It is interesting that major wild fires have occurred in areas where shortly before major roundups have occurred. They are truly amazing animals and are being systematically exterminated by an unjust system that has been awarded the task of preserving them. In truth as always I have to say, wild horses and burros do not, and I repeat do not need to be managed. They just need to be left to nature’s mechanisms along with all else. All we need to do is to remove the artificial adjustments and barriers that resist the free roaming habits and livelyhood of not only wild horses and burros but all natural ruminants and predators.

    • January 7, 2021 at 9:54 am

      Thanks so much for your intelligent and perspicacious statement, Mr. Bauer. Coming from a fellow biologist, it shows that you are attuned to what really takes place in the natural world, not distracted by what big business and blind tradition and habits would dictated. You honor the natural world and the true nature of the horse and burro and its true place in our world, which, as you so well indicate, is a very benign and restorative one.

    • January 18, 2021 at 10:41 am

      I totally agree with you Mr. Bauer, I am ashamed of how our government has treated, eliminated our wild horses and burros. They just help the ecosystem and we need them for sure. The greedy ranchers need to be dealt with. They’ve gotten away with all this greed for way too long. I’ve been active in doing what I can to help the wild ones. I guess we can’t do enough and our voice is not heard by BLM or any officials, which I do not think they give a hoot what happens to these beautiful creatures, a gift from God which we need to take care of.

      Let’s keep hoping and doing what we can in the new year,


  • January 7, 2021 at 7:42 am

    As a side note, it is interesting that wild horses have been called non-indigenous, or non native and are a detriment to the ecosytems that they reside in. All of this is false, no question, but the cattle that are being allowed to reside in these ecosystems, are definitely non-indigenous, having been shipped over from Europe and Scandinavia. These are truly invasive in as much as their effect upon the ecosytems that they reside in is exactly opposite that of the wild horses. I have personally witnessed ponds and other water sites that have been decimated by cattle, the proof in the shape of the split hoof tracks. These said areas have had the vegetation ripped out, these same areas eroded, and the water polluted and void of oxygen due to urination and defecation in these watering areas by the cattle. Cattle have a tendency to congregate in these areas as opposed to wild equine that by their nature. are constantly on the move. The premise of Reserve Design is to legally set aside large areas of land where the wild horses and burros can reside and their numbers dictated by nature and not mankind along with all coexisting ruminants and predators. They are supposed to be an areas that the BLM, USFS, and Dept of AG cannot touch. Nature is dynamic and not static, meaning we cannot limit an area to a fixed number of wild horses, like the Apprpriate Management Level of the Wild Horse and Burro Program of the BLM. The wild horses along with nature in general are amazing and beautiful, always speaking and teaching. All we have to do is listen

    • January 7, 2021 at 10:00 am

      So right, Mr. Bauer! It is we humans who have to find within ourselves the humility to see and hear and in all ways perceive what the Great Rest of Life has to teach us. Then we might have a chance of repairing the horrible damage that has been done to the great Web of Life that includes all species. — And the Horse as well as the Burro would then be allowed to do their great healing work for the benefit of all life on Earth, including us humans. — Visualize this. Believe in it. Act and Live in accordance with this higher Calling. Let’s not abandon the WFHBA but rather restore it as to its true and noble, sound and nature-attuned intent!

  • January 8, 2021 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks for keeping me in the loop, Craig! I hope to communicate in depth sometime soon, but know that I am still in your corner, applauding your tireless efforts and unbridled energy (pardon the pun).
    I vividly recall our first encounter at the conference in South Dakota ~ was it in 2003?. My kids, and now grandkids, are all wild horse enthusiasts, thanks to the fire you built under me those many years ago.


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