The outrageous treatment of America’s wild horses and their legal habitat

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Two wild stallions peer at the camera apprehensively but as is nearly always the case with horses, with good will. This is in Burns Junction in southern Oregon. So few horses remain in Oregon due to a campaign to either eliminate or nearly eliminate them by both BLM and USFS.
Two wild stallions peer at the camera apprehensively but as is nearly always the case with horses, with good will. This is in Burns Junction in southern Oregon. So few horses remain in Oregon due to a campaign to either eliminate or nearly eliminate them by both BLM and USFS. © Craig C Downer

Today, there are people whose aim is to retain their status quo lifestyles at any cost, with little regard to the natural world and the many species that inhabit it.

» Report on wild horse herds from Utah (Sulphur and Conger HMAs) and eastern and central Nevada

These people will go to any lengths in order to keep their nature-exploitive, consumerist and habit-bound ways of life going no matter how much torture this causes to fellow sentient beings and no matter how this endangers the future of life on Earth that has taken many millions of years to establish itself on this planet. Such people are often smug in their demeanor and become threatening when anyone questions their heedless ways.

They group together in alliances that defend the status quo at any cost in terms of its destructive harm and torture of others, then they hypocritically proclaim themselves to be on the moral high ground and often use the outward trappings of their religion as a way to stave off all overt criticism as well as that small, still voice of conscience that reprimands them for what they are doing – which brings me to the subject of this article.

Currently, America’s last remaining wild horses and burros are being unjustly and drastically rounded up mainly by helicopters stampeding them. These have no Go-Pros mounted on them to show the mayhem that the horses and burros are really suffering. The dreadful Onaqui wild horse helicopter roundup just concluded with its jerking out 435 beautiful horses. Many of these horses are exquisite examples of Spanish Colonial mustang heritage. Left will be a disordered, group of around 200, of which about 100 have been returned to the Herd Management Area (HMA) in altered condition. In effect, these “wild horses” are being semi-domesticated by the administration of PZP to prevent mare pregnancy. Their mature social units, or bands, have been broken asunder, even though these effectively inhibit reproduction by younger stallions and mares. Additionally, their ecological adaptations are being set back — adaptations that have taken generations to establish.

As of August 20, 2021, BLM continues its rampage of wild horse and burro excessive gathers, going through herd after herd of wild horses and burros in Utah (Confusion HMA), Nevada (Antelope Complex) and elsewhere, and their devastating plan continues with intentions to reduce mustang and burro herds throughout the West.

Officials are using the drought as an excuse to abandon consideration of many reasonable solutions that do not involve removal, claiming that the near-total removal of these national heritage species is for their own good. Yet, most of these animals quickly end up in dismal straits, confined to small corrals and bunched together with fellow horses, or burros, in conditions that make a real mockery of the true and core intent of the Wild Free-roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFHBA). The Sinbad wild burro HMA in Utah is up for near elimination, as is the popular Sand Wash Basin wild horse HMA – Colorado’s most popular wild horse herd. The West Douglas HMA is being zeroed out to accommodate both cattle ranchers and energy developers, also in Colorado.

Often major fires break out in areas where the wild horses have been nearly eliminated, and I expect this will occur again with this ongoing war on the wild, free-roaming horses and burros. Basically, the problem rests with the stranglehold that the public lands livestock industry, including both cattle and sheep ranchers, have on America’s public lands, along with a similar stranglehold by large mining and energy companies. If this situation is not honestly and courageously faced and countered, I truly fear for the future of my most cherished West, because all the wonderful freedom and vitality that makes the West the West will have been squeezed to death.

Horses from the recent helicopter gather at the Onaqui HMA in Utah.
Horses from the recent helicopter gather at the Onaqui HMA in Utah. © Craig C Downer

All this is occurring because, contrary to the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (WFHBA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a branch of the US Department of Interior, has largely abrogated its responsibility to the wild horses and their legal habitats. And the same goes for the US Forest Service, the other agency charged with upholding this Act’s very noble and ecologically restorative provisions, and which is a branch of the US Department of Agriculture. These roundups are based on the rancher attitude toward these highly evolved and beneficent animals and do not reflect the naturalist approach to life that is at the heart of the WFHBA. They harm the horses and burros both physically and psychologically and the scars of the unnecessary trauma they cause remain with the “gathered” horses and burros for the rest of their lives, frequently as an equine form of PTSD.

Although the BLM and US Forest Service invariably claims their targeted wild horses and burros are “overpopulated,” they are almost always underpopulated; their numbers are greatly dwarfed by livestock and big game animals. Their negative impacts are grossly exaggerated while those that are positive in nature, which are considerable, are callously ignored. Basically, America’s last wild-living mustangs and burros are being targeted in order to secure a virtual monopoly of the natural resources on public lands by cattle and sheep ranchers, the hunting establishment, agribusiness, developers who pump down water tables, mining and energy companies whose excesses are protected by the grossly antiquated 1872 Mining Law and that squander and poison vast quantities of precious water throughout the largely arid West. Other interests also jump on the negative bandwagon against the wild horse including people who just seem to enjoy being disrespectful and disharmonious when it comes to Nature and the other species, including even such magnificent and highly evolved ones as horses and burros and which have been humanity’s faithful work companions and transportation means for not just centuries but millennia, and to whom humanity owes an enormous debt of gratitude.

As a matter of fact, livestock interests exploit about 300-million acres of public lands in the US and are equivalent to a few million year-round cattle and several million sheep in terms of their forage, water and other resource consumption as well as trampling of riparian and upland habitat. BLM and US Forest Service personnel largely cater to them even though they lose millions of dollars of taxpayer money every year in the process and cause many millions more in terms of ecosystem harm and destruction. In contrast, the wild horses and burros account for only an estimated 70,000 to 95,000 animals (high figure from BLM). And remember that a burro consumes only about half the forage as a horse or a cow. But government officials, public lands ranchers, misled conservationists who accept the lies against the wild horses and burros, nearly always trumpet this, in fact, very modest population as being dangerously high as they count upon people’s ignorance, lack of questioning, concern and, above all, perspective.

Overgrazing by cattle in Cerbat HMA in north-west Arizona. The area is famed for its Spanish Colonial mustang but they are almost all gone now. "The BLM office in Kingman should be protecting them but is rather doing the opposite."
Overgrazing by cattle in Cerbat HMA in north-west Arizona. The area is famed for its Spanish Colonial mustang but they are almost all gone now. “The BLM office in Kingman should be protecting them but is rather doing the opposite.” © Craig C Downer

In fact, the relative grazing, water, and other resource and habitat necessities of America’s last remaining wild horses and burros only amount to around one 100th that of domestic livestock and big game animals on our public lands. So, to blame them for the ongoing destruction of ecosystems is both egregious and mendacious – deceptive in the extreme. Also largely ignored is the enormous impact of off-highway-vehicles on public lands.

The wild horses and burro who are so massively removed from the public lands are taken to BLM and USFS holding corrals where the stallions are usually castrated. Usually the mares are PZPed, or GonaCon’ed or otherwise treated to prevent their reproduction. Both PZP and GonaCon produce serious harm to the individuals and the social groups they belong to if put back out in the wild.

Off-road vehicles have left tell-tale tracks in the Onaqui HMA in Utah.
Off-road vehicles have left tell-tale tracks in the Onaqui HMA in Utah. © Craig C Downer

The so-called “Path Forward” plan presently adopted by BLM and USFS is, in my professional opinion as a wild-horse ecologist, a “wipeout” plan, in that it “wipes out” generations of natural adaptation to the particular ecosystems from which these equines came. Basically “natural selection” is being replaced by human’s “artificial selection” of who remains and who doesn’t, of who reproduces and who doesn’t, which is entirely contrary to the true intent of the WFHBA. This gives a clear mandate that we humans let the horses be themselves on the public lands and give principal resources to them in their legal areas, which originally were about 12% of BLM and USFS lands, but have been reduced by many millions of acres since the passage of the Act 50 years ago.

Wild horses from the Onaqui HMA in Utah, which was recently gathered by helicopter.
Wild horses from the Onaqui HMA in Utah, which was recently gathered by helicopter. © Craig C Downer

After roundup, the conditions in which the mustangs and burros are held are extremely utilitarian; the equids are over concentrated and, though regularly fed and watered, they feel terribly fearful and apprehensive about their future. Many fall into a deep depression; a significant portion of these simply “give up the ghost”. This reminds me of the Biblical verse: “One does not live by bread alone.” The mortal remains of those who die are unceremoniously hauled off by tractors and buried in large pits near the holding corrals. Alternatively, local rendering works are contracted to dispose of their decomposing bodies. Those who are not adopted are reportedly sent to long-term pastures where they supposedly live out their lives in habitats with adequate forage, water, shelter and space to move about. However, there exist many well-substantiated reports of these being sent off by the hundreds, thousands or even ten thousands or more to horse-kill companies both in Canada and Mexico. This would be such a grievous and gruesome betrayal of America’s national heritage species.

Once a wild horse or burro adopter gains title, usually after one year of BLM or USFS compliance with care guidelines, this individual may sell his/her horse/burro at open auctions where the vast majority of animals purchased go to kill buyers. And even the “Incentive Program” of BLM that gives people $1000 to adopt a horse or burro has been proven to frequently end in the horse being sold to a kill buyer, as attests a recent NY Times article by Dave Phillips. The current SAFE bill in Congress has passed out of the House but still has to clear the Senate. It aims to stop the transport of these wild horses and burros as well as other equids, to slaughter in Mexico, Canada and other foreign countries – and I sure pray it passes this time, as similar bills have been introduced for many years but never succeeded.

A wild horse from the Onaqui HMA in Utah.
A wild horse from the Onaqui HMA in Utah. © Craig C Downer

On their legal lands, whether BLM or USFS, where the wild horses and burros are supposed to be given the principal resources (Section 2 c of the WFHBA), they are almost always allocated only a minor portion of available forage relative to that allocated to livestock. On average the wild horses/burros get only between 10 and 15 percent; often they are allocated much less, even just a few percent. Also, their legal habitats (called Herd Management Areas / Herd Areas by BLM and Territories by US Forest Service) are usually over-fenced and cross-fenced so as to overly restrict the natural movement patterns of these wild equids. This is very much contrary to the true and core intent of the WFHBA, which mandates their “free-roaming” lifestyles and allows them to practice their instinctual, natural rest rotation.

Concerning their critical access to sufficient and pure water in order to survive, this should be secured by BLM / USFS to meet the needs of viable populations, but often these agencies’ officials fail to fend for adequate water for the herds and merely allow the ranchers, miners, energy developers – whoever – to monopolize the water of the HMAs/Territories. This has become particularly apparent to me during the many photographic monitoring flights I have conducted over the HMAs in several Western states, often with the help of the LightHawk organization.

A charming mare and her colt peering trustingly at the camera. Such close bonds between mare and colt are ruthlessly broken during the violent government-sponsored roundups. They are from a western Nevada herd, possibly Pine Nut Mountain HMA.
A charming mare and her colt peering trustingly at the camera. Such close bonds between mare and colt are ruthlessly broken during the violent government-sponsored roundups. They are from a western Nevada herd, possibly Pine Nut Mountain HMA. © Craig C Downer

My photographs and other documentation indicate the extreme degree to which public waters end up going to private interests. For example, in eastern Nevada, this has occurred to the extreme detriment of the wild horses both in the Ely and the Elko Districts of the BLM. The same story exists throughout the West where the wild horses and burros should be the principal presences within their legal areas. This situation represents a shameless betrayal of the wild horses and burros, who should have access to adequate water for viable populations of at least over 1000 to be genetically sound. This they should have by dint of those Implied Federal Water Rights that came with the unanimously passed WFHBA 50 years ago (see my interview with WHB BLM Specialist John Phillips in my book The Wild Horse Conspiracy, pp. 125-126).

Often, as just occurred in the Onaqui Wild Horse HMA, major water sources will be turned off by ranchers once their livestock has been removed from their grazing allotments within the HMAs.

Only because of an outraged public was a recent serious incident remedied. This involved a major water trough in the Onaqui HMA that was turned off leaving many horses in a desperate predicament for a few days.

The Onaqui HMA trough, which was shut off on July 3.
The Onaqui HMA trough, which was shut off on July 3. © Craig C Downer

Finally, after much vociferous complaint, either the rancher or a BLM worker came to turn the water back on. Such incidents are common throughout the West, but usually, the wild-horse-advocating public is unaware of them and the wild horses and burros suffer greatly and often perish in dire straits as a consequence.

Several bands of wild horses depend on the Onaqui HMA water trough.
Several bands of wild horses depend on the Onaqui HMA water trough. © Craig C Downer

This sorry situation will only continue unless the American public rises up and insists it is corrected. Basically, we need pro-wild-horse-and-burro people in positions of authority over these naturally living equids and their habitats, not the contrary. Such reform may require additional legislation to place the wild horses and burros and their habitats under a separate agency staffed by well-educated people who appreciate the naturally living equids rather than by those who have traditionally opposed wild horses and burros in the wild.

The large-scale and excessive removal of America’s last remaining, underpopulated wild horses and burros is actually having a detrimental effect upon the life-supporting ecosystem, often referred to as “the environment”. These equids restore balance and help heal overgrazed, eroded and species-poor life communities by enriching soils, seeding a great variety of plants and contributing their mortal remains to the food web, including predators such as wolves, mountain lions and bears, as well as scavengers such as foxes, coyotes and vultures. Because of their larger and more powerful bodies and their extensive and frequent movements, they also open up thickets so that other animals, such as deer, benefit, break ice and frozen crusts on frozen water and forage, again to the benefit of many smaller, weaker animals.

Horses at a water hole on the Onaqui Wild Horse HMA in Utah.
Horses at a water hole on the Onaqui Wild Horse HMA in Utah. © Craig C Downer

Their broad home ranges result in greater dispersal of many diverse plant species that find a fertile germination bed in equid feces. Also, equid feces increase the water-retaining abilities of soils because they increase their humus content; this has the much-appreciated effect of dampening out incipient wildfires, such as are caused by lightning strikes, campfire cinders, etc.

Another often overlooked but significant effect of wild equids concerns their wallowing, i.e. rolling on the earth. This can be done to massage their skin, rid themselves of ticks, disguise their scent and, as I have singularly observed, adjust the alignment of their very elaborate and intricately connected skeletal system. But, furthermore, on the ecosystem level, their wallowing benefits many other species, especially when in drier, more arid habitats they create natural water catchments, especially where there is a high clay content to the soils to “seal the pool bottom”. And such clayey soils are to be found in many regions of the West. These “wallow pools” collect water from cloudbursts, ordinary rain and snow storms, as well as dew and runoff; their water content can remain for weeks and even months before drying out. The result is that they facilitate the generation of willows, cottonwood trees, many small flowering plants, sedges, rushes and grasses of a great variety. With these come all the other insect pollinators, fruit and seed eaters, stalk and leaf consuming animals, etc. These include rodents, reptiles, rabbits, large mammals and a great variety of birds and on up the food chain.

In this and many other ways, it has been conclusively proven that wild horses and burros enhance, safeguard and perpetuate a balanced ecosystem where they live, contrary to the ill-motivated, anti-wild-horse/burro propaganda that has been going on for many years and that derives from the attitudes of greedy and selfish exploiters of public lands’ resources who remain ungrateful for the enormous privileges and subsidies they receive from government, whose hand they generally bite!

Spanish mustangs on the eastern side of Cerbat Mountain in the Cerbat HMA in Arizona. Evidence gathered shows very strong persecution of these precious remnant Spanish mustangs, the subject of a report by Craig on his website.
Spanish mustangs on the eastern side of Cerbat Mountain in the Cerbat HMA in Arizona. Evidence gathered shows very strong persecution of these precious remnant Spanish mustangs, the subject of a report by Craig on his website. © Craig C Downer

The Wild Horse Conspiracy  has a whole chapter on these equids’ ecology as well as another on their history and evolution – which is deeply rooted in North America – among several other chapters. I also suggest you check out my field reports on several wild horse and burro herds and their habitats throughout the West. These are on my website, along with other articles, alerts and general overview information that will help you be a more effective wild horse and burro advocate in order to win for the wild horses.

A beautiful band of "Wildies", as Canadian wild horses are called. This was taken in the eastern foothills of the Rockies east of Banff national park, where Craig undertook a herd and habitat study that was used to defend their right to remain as a beneficial element of the ecosystem. Large clear-cuts for gas pipelines there create habitats where these horses play a very important restorative role.
A beautiful band of “Wildies”, as Canadian wild horses are called. This was taken in the eastern foothills of the Rockies east of Banff national park, where Craig undertook a herd and habitat study that was used to defend their right to remain as a beneficial element of the ecosystem. Large clear-cuts for gas pipelines there create habitats where these horses play a very important restorative role. © Craig C Downer

Please also consider reading my scientific article summarizing the many justifications for America’s wild horses and burros and their place in “wild America” and throughout the world. Check out my recent illustrated article here. Feel free to comment.

And please do not forget to call up my Reserve Design project and consider supporting it. This conforms with the true and core intent of the WFHBA, because it treats the horses and burros and their rightful habitats with genuine respect.

A call to action

Finally, I urge you to take actions to protect, preserve and restore America’s precious wild, naturally living horses and burros together with their complete and viable natural homes. Become an active defender of one or more wild horse/burro herds and their HMAs by going to www.blm.gov and familiarizing yourself with this agency’s wild horse and burro program and do likewise for the US Forest Service at www.fs.usda.gov. Select the HMA/Territory that most interests you. These herds are usually organized by state on either of the websites. Hopefully you’ll fall in love and become a herd’s ardent and knowledgeable defender, which will entail becoming involved in the Herd and Land Use Planning processes of BLM and/or USFS, giving input on the behalf of the wild horses and burros and their rightful and adequate viable natural habitats, and, thereby, your gaining standing in the courts to sue, if this becomes necessary – which is often the case.

A gorgeous chestnut stallion apparently all alone near the Humboldt Herd Area that the Winnemucca Nevada BLM had decided to not manage for any wild horses. He should be a lesson to us all that there is still hope for the wild naturally living horses to make a comeback.
A gorgeous chestnut stallion apparently all alone near the Humboldt Herd Area that the Winnemucca Nevada BLM had decided to not manage for any wild horses. He should be a lesson to us all that there is still hope for the wild naturally living horses to make a comeback. © Craig C Downer

Craig C. Downer is a wildlife ecologist who has specialized in the Mammalian Order Perissodactyla. This Order includes the Horse Family, Equidae, as well as the Families Tapiridae and Rhinocerontidae. While earning his M.S. at the University of Nevada-Reno, he did a field study and paper on the Pine Nut Mountain wild horses. And later in his career, he did a professional herd and habitat analysis of these unique wild horses, that have a strong Spanish Colonial component. Craig worked with Wild Horse Annie (Velma Bronn Johnston) in the 1970s when the Wild Free-roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFHBA) was first being implemented. He has given speeches, slide and PowerPoint presentations and guided films defending the wild horses and burros as well as written books and articles, including scientific, about them. As a legal plaintiff in numerous court cases, he has defended the rights of the wild horses and burros throughout America after having investigated their unfair treatment on the public lands throughout the West. His Reserve Design project for restoring the herds and their habitats to viable levels has registered with many people and government agencies and is producing a much-needed turnaround for these magnificent and benign animals. His organization the Andean Tapir Fund / Wild Horse and Burro Fund has awakened many people concerning the many positive contributions these species make to ecosystems as well as concerning their North American origins and long-standing evolution. His dynamic, greater truth and justice-serving organization upholds the pure intent of the WFHBA. Its website contains his reports, articles, videos and interviews and those of others and provides an important overview on this subject as well as a well-informed and timely call to action.

His book, The Wild Horse Conspiracy, can be ordered from thewildhorseconspiracy.org or on Amazon as an eBook or hard copy, or by sending $25 to Wild Horse and Burro Fund, P.O. Box 456, Minden, NV 89423, USA. Craig’s latest book, America’s Wild Horses and Burros Must Make a Comeback!  has an instructive call to action. “My relatives going back generations to pioneer days are from this part of Nevada, around Lovelock. This goes to show we are not all a bunch of anti-wild-horse anti-wildlife and wilderness greedy so and so’s.”

43 thoughts on “The outrageous treatment of America’s wild horses and their legal habitat

  • August 22, 2021 at 1:11 pm
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    Excellent, excellent article!!!! It stirs the heart to fight for justice by understanding the issues. His comment about some of these horses as examples of old breeds is so true. Look at the colorful beauty of these animals. They deserve to be cherished. Amazing!

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    • August 27, 2021 at 8:02 am
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      Well said Sharon and thank you…I have been passionate about the plight of our wild horse’s and burros for years…and yes it has been proven by ecologists that the wild horses and burros are beneficial to the balance of the land.

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      • August 27, 2021 at 4:54 pm
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        The “wild” horses that I regularly see in the Mojave Desert have no other competition other than native wildlife and their body condition is horrible usually scaling a one or two. I watched a stallion keep a foal and mare away from a barely trickling spring two weeks ago while looking for mule deer.
        There’s a lot of nuance in here and with the continued drought and climate change in the US we’re basically looking at these animals or native species in a lot of places.

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      • August 27, 2021 at 6:10 pm
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        Yes, Vivian, rather than scapegoating these soliped, caecal digesters, we should be restoring them in many places where they are so needed to restore ecosystems, combat Global Warming, and restore high quality and animation to all of Life’s Great Family!

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    • August 30, 2021 at 4:07 pm
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      PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE HELP these AMAZING CREATURES and in Return HELP PROTECT OUR OWN FREEDOMS.. OUR OWN LIVES By HELPING OUR ENVIRONMENT, ECOSYSTEMS and IF YOU Are A HUNTER And WONDER Where ALL ELK HAVE Gone.. THEY END UP DEAD Just AS The EQUIDS…I Have Seen ELK Seek Out HORSES and GRAZE TOGETHER..
      What would you Rather EAT? ELK/DEER/ANTELOPE?? Or.. Antibiotics, Hormones, Deworming Chemicals among the stressed out tougher than tough, over Fatty Cows, Sheep that you PAY OVER TOP DOLLAR FOR??? WAKE UP PEOPLE, This GOES WAY BEYOND A Place to Ride Your Destructive, Polluting, Noisy, UGLY Razor that by end of Summer probably won’t even Run…WAKE UP The WORLD and SHARE THIS, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!! WE Will ALL REAP The BENEFITS!!! THANK YOU!!!

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  • August 23, 2021 at 12:00 pm
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    Wonderful, Sharon! So appreciate your comments. As the saying goes: “In the wild, the true vigor of the species is preserved”.

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    • August 27, 2021 at 12:23 am
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      Please get this out to more and more people, the news lies about the round ups, if people saw what happens when they are driven in by helicopters, and the death caused by these drives. Excellent article.

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      • August 27, 2021 at 6:06 pm
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        Yes, so much distortion of the true facts because of the vested interests clouding the issue. I will continue to strive to do just this. Appreciate your encouragement, Jon!

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  • August 23, 2021 at 1:07 pm
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    Thank you for this excellent, well written informative article! This has been a hard fight (I’ve been at it 50 years) and it seems no one in DC cares or they are afraid of the powerful cattle lobby=BLM! Your article will do alot for our cause- thank you!

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    • August 23, 2021 at 4:27 pm
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      You’re welcome, Karen, and your words are music to my ears! Yes, it has been and remains a hard fight, but the realization of the greatest goals in this life and world usually do meet with just such perverse resistance. So glad you have been fighting the good fight for 50 years, the same age as this noble act itself. We can win, but we must persist and not give up! The Bible says that those who serve a righteous cause in their lives will not grow weary or dispirited, but shall ever be given the strength to continue, as they are animated by their higher vision of and for life.

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    • August 26, 2021 at 12:10 pm
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      It seems to me this will never go away. The people running this program don’t care for the horses and burros obviously. The BLM only have 1 plan is to decimate the wildhorse herds in cruel and inhumane ways of eliminating them. We the people just need tobdo something to protect them ourselves. God Bkess Oyr Wildhorses Please keep them all safe from evil people.

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      • August 27, 2021 at 5:47 pm
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        Hope and pray for some enlightenment in so called “high” places for doing what’s right by these wonderful horses and their world. Remember it’s their world too!

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    • August 26, 2021 at 6:32 pm
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      The ties to foreign consumers for our horsemeat needs severed. The officals involved need removed as well. This is a sick and disgusting betrayal.

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      • August 27, 2021 at 5:48 pm
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        Very wrong and must be exposed and rectified. We can do it!

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      • September 1, 2021 at 10:53 am
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        The horses are not native to the West. It is heart breaking, but removal is no less necessary than the pythons in Florida or wild pigs that destroy mIllions of dollars of agriculture annually. We also are over populating the plant are destroying the environment. Should we limit our own reproduction? It a bigger issue than just the horses.

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        • September 3, 2021 at 8:08 am
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          I strongly disagree, Jeff. The horse species is a deeply rooted native in North America, including the West, and their very success in so many parts of this continent and the West indicates this. Also, if you would take the time and with open mind study into this subject in greater depth you could see the many proofs of this. I believe you have been listening too much to those who are on a negative propaganda campaign to deliberately discredit and eliminate these wonderful returned natives. Horses also restore much needed balance in ecosystems where the cloven-hooved, ruminant herbivores are overpopulating. Check out some of the references in my earlier article https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2021/07/17/horses-carbon-sequesters/ You should not equate the naturally living horses and burros with the Burmese Pythons invading Florida, etc. Look into the vast evolutionary roots of the equids in North America. — Agree with you, however, on the need for our species to greatly limit its own numbers and impacts on what remains of our precious life-support ecosystem here on our shared home planet Earth. We must learn as a species to stop being so selfish, short-sighted and greed and learn how to share with the other species that, in fact, make life possible for us, including the equids, and long evolving presence here whose roots trace back to ancient times at the beginnings of the Cenozoic.

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  • August 24, 2021 at 6:12 pm
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    A good article to provide information on the tragic situation of wild equines.
    What is hopeless is that it does not reach the upper echelons, that the gatherings continue.
    For someone from abroad, it gives the impression that the BLM is doing its little law on its own, without worrying about anything other than obeying special interests.

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    • August 27, 2021 at 5:50 pm
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      Yes, quite so, Martine. But you never can tell where this message will reach. The special interests, i.e. the exploiters and the advantage takers of Nature are ruining life on Earth. I’ve got to believe that people can wake up in time to rectify this unacceptable situation.

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    • September 3, 2021 at 8:13 am
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      I quite agree with you, Martine. The BLM has become “captured” by special interests including the public lands ranchers who have gotten their people into the positions of power and authority and who serve the ranchers as well as other nature-exploitive interests but give short shrift to the wild horses and burros and the many millions of their supporters in USA and abroad. Basically they have made a mockery of the WFHBA. Now at the 50th anniversary of this noble act, it is high time for a turnaround!

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  • August 24, 2021 at 11:40 pm
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    Thanks, Craig! Wonderful piece, that will hopefully be an eye-opener for many!

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    • August 27, 2021 at 5:52 pm
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      You’re welcome, Victor. I’ve got to believe that it will and will continue to strive to be more effective in this very important cause of the wild naturally living horses and burros and their very justified place here on this planet.

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  • August 25, 2021 at 10:21 am
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    As the wildness of America falls to the corrupt so we all fall and America is great no more.

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    • August 27, 2021 at 5:53 pm
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      As the saying goes: In Wildness is the Preservation of the World (meaning the “living world”)

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  • August 26, 2021 at 10:43 am
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    This is a wonderful article! The public needs to see this. Have you shared this with other publications? I’m trying to get the word out as well. I believe if the public knew the truth, there would be much more needed support. Something has to change before the American Wild Horses are next on the endangered list, simply because of human greed and ignorance.

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    • August 27, 2021 at 5:56 pm
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      Exactly right, Lisa! I would like to deliver this as testimony before Senate and House committees and even before the full Senate and House hearings! Why not? They should hear from those who really appreciate these wonderful animals living as they should rather than just those jaded people who are so blind to all their true value and importance for being here.

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      • August 28, 2021 at 8:32 am
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        With your permission, I would like to send a copy to my governor and senate/house reps. I would, of course, include your name and HorseTalk that published it for you. It just needs to reach so many people! Please let me know if you have any other suggestions of things I could do to get your message out! Thank you!

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        • September 1, 2021 at 5:54 am
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          Good morning, Lisa: Yes you certainly have my permission to send my article to your governor and senators and representatives. I also suggest that you highlight my Reserve Design solution to the present crisis. The link to this is in the article. Also indicate my willingness to come and testify and of course to meet with the officials and their assistants. Thanks so much for doing this, Lisa. Action is what it will take and firm persistence and commitment to restore the herds and their habitats to truly long-term viable levels and extensions and conditions. Let me know of their response. Best wishes, Craig

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    • September 1, 2021 at 12:25 am
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      The US government. Allways seeking to kill and destroy someone or something…

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      • September 3, 2021 at 8:19 am
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        Our government need not be this way, and could do and has in the past done wonderful things to help save life on Earth and uplift the quality of life. But we need real men and women of integrity who do not lose their moral compass when assuming office. With their worldly power they are subject to temptations to cave in to pressures from corrupt interests who would over-exploit and disrespect the natural integrity of the ecosystems whose protection and restoration should be our paramount goals.

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  • August 26, 2021 at 9:50 pm
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    Thank you for being a voice for all of the beautiful and majestic wild horses! I always cry when I read of the horrible injustice by the very agency that is suppose to uphold the wishes of the American people, which is law, and to protect them.
    I would so love to be of some assistance in this fight. Please have someone, anyone, that could steer me in a proper direction to help out in this most crucial fight for justice of these wild horses! KAusmus

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    • August 27, 2021 at 5:59 pm
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      You’re welcome, Katie. Yes it is a most exasperating situation to see the gross perversion of this noble law’s true intent. So glad you would like to help. Could you please contact me through one of my website below as I could certainly use some help in my ongoing projects to help the in this very crucial time.

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  • August 27, 2021 at 8:19 am
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    Well said and thank you for speaking out you express what many of us are so passionate about the plight of our wild horse’s and burros…and yes it has been proven by ecologists that the wild horses and burros are beneficial to the balance of the land…They are an American icon and what the BLM are doing with these animals is criminal.

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    • August 27, 2021 at 6:02 pm
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      You’re welcome, Vivian. So true how these deeply rooted North American natives restore so much and bring back balance and enhance ecosystems. It is truly disgusting to see how the great truth of the foregoing can be deliberately ignored because of tunnel vision and being hell-bend on maximizing the exploitation of our public lands’ resources. These ecosystems need to be returned to their natural states to help save life on Earth today and the wild horses and burros are such great restorers!

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  • August 28, 2021 at 7:13 am
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    Your passion is well-articulated and your advocacy amazing. Watching climate change and drought realign our western landscape has been heartwrenching. Hay costs soaring. Water drying up. Horse herds still double when left to themselves. Cattle are removed to balance their herd size. True, horses were never more native than the livestock, but how to get taxpayers to support an 800-1200 lb animal that needs hay, water, care when we have children who aren’t housed, fed, educated for their future? I’m a horse owner and a foster parent. I see neglect in many forms. Like the overwhelmed social services, the agencies battling plagues of non-native snakes/cats/toads/carp, and the strain on animal services, I don’t see any immediate solution but all the players have to compromise or nothing changes for the suffering. Hate on me of you must, but I voted against slaughter and regret now see the abandoned animals. I want pastures for horses but vote for affordable housing on open land. I love mustangs and burros, but I see the need to balance horses and humanity. I can’t see just one side of the issue given the reality, and I mean reading about ALL facts and realities (even those against my opinions) that exist today. If we don’t find ways to humanely reduce the herds, subsidized mustang farming will soon pay more than cattle ranching. Then what will we want to eat?

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    • September 1, 2021 at 6:08 am
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      Thanks for your comments, Pat, and glad you got something out of my article. In reply to your points, One of the major points of my article concerns the “fairness issue” concerning the wild, free-living horses and burros and their rightful habitats. My concern is that there is some real outrageous exaggerations going on about the wild horses relative proportions and impacts on the public lands. These are being put forth in order to discredit and practically eliminate these wonderful returned native herbivores, who actually contribute many beneficial services to ecosystems, as I indicated in my article. One of these concerns wildfire mitigation and prevention. It’s high time people get their act together and stop singing the same old worn out song whose message does not apply to our times today and the crucial challenges we face. We need to get back in harmony with nature and to live with due respect for all creatures and the life communities, or ecosystems, we should benignly share with them. And this includes the naturally living horses and burros and their respective habitats.

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  • August 28, 2021 at 3:23 pm
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    “Today, there are people whose aim is to retain their status quo lifestyles at any cost, with little regard to the natural world and the many species that inhabit it.”

    There’s nothing “natural world” about the mustangs.
    They are an invasive species that doubles in size every 5 years.
    Birth control isn’t effective as it’s too difficult to administer every year.
    My next-door neighbors have 6 domesticated mustangs on their property, so I’ve learned a bit about them.
    The large herds aren’t sustainable.

    Robert S

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    • September 3, 2021 at 8:32 am
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      I must strongly disagree with you, Robert. I believe you have been listening too much to the biased propaganda of the wild horse enemies. Their judgement on this important subject is too often clouded by their vested interests, so they lash out against anything that gets in the way of their nature-exploitive ways. America’s wild horses and burros are, in fact, very underpopulated and only a very minor presence and getting dangerously low because of their being unfairly targeted. They are being set up by cynical people who refuse to open their eyes, their hearts and their minds to the great value and justification of the wild horses and burros. I suggest you check out my other recent article at https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2021/07/17/horses-carbon-sequesters/ and let me know what you think.

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  • August 28, 2021 at 11:59 pm
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    They are “feral” horses not wild. They dont belong here and they are the nations most expensive pet. Waist of BLM resources and should be treated the same as the feral hogs in TX. They should be managed by the states game and fish agencies.

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    • September 3, 2021 at 8:40 am
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      So wrong, Charles! These horses and burros are genuinely wild and natural, and quickly revert to their age-old role in the world of nature, where they do an abundance of good for the life community. They need to be better protected, and the current extremely biased programs aimed at either crippling or eliminating them from their rightful habitats must be stopped and replaced with programs that restore them to viable levels in viable and unfenced habitats with all the requirements for their survival: water, forage, shelter, minerals, etc. The state fish and game departments are not agencies to have control over them with their present policies, since they are largely run by tunnel-vision people who mainly serve the hunters and fishers, not the great majority of Americans and world citizens who instead want to see a beautiful and balanced, biodiverse ecosystem that is not run like a dispiriting factory!

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  • September 1, 2021 at 6:20 am
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    You know, I clicked on this article because I was genuinely curious about a conservation issue I am not well informed on. I hunt and fish and am very concerned with preserving our natural resources both for the sake of future generations and for the sake of the plants and animals who have no say in how we are affecting their environment. I have to say that, even though I am curious and concerned with how our federal and agencies are managing many of our natural resources, I could not finish the article because the author’s language is way too combative. If we want to protect this planet, we need to build coalitions of people who are interested in preserving it. You will not be effective at that if you actively alienate people whose interests do not exactly match yours.

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    • September 3, 2021 at 8:46 am
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      Thanks for your comment, Brian. I will just say it’s the extreme abuses that I have witnessed by established interests against the wild horses and wild burros and their rightful respective habitats that have caused me to speak up so strongly in their defense. Look at it this way: if someone was violating someone in your family in some terribly gross and offensive, uncalled-for way, would you just stand by meekly, or merely tap the bully on the shoulder and apologetically ask they they cease and desist?

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  • September 11, 2021 at 5:45 am
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    Thank you for your very enlightening article, I too feel as you do and wish I was as articulate in my speech and writing. Are able to get in front of the powers that be to change this atrocity and maybe get media’s attention to get this information to the general public, it seems we need more people to make calls or write to congressional representatives,
    the President, Secretary Haaland the BLM etc. Maybe even protests to call attention to the inhumane cruel treatment of our majestic and spiritual wild horses and burros…I’m am truly heartbroken and ashamed of this government’s inhumanity of our wildlife and wild places. Would I be able to make copies of this article from your website? Hope you are able to make contact with those who can make a difference time is running out for these beatiful icons.

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  • September 25, 2021 at 7:56 am
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    You’re very welcome, Roxanne. Yes feel free to make copies of the article and send out. There’s a way to do this without the ads so that it is just the printed article and photos. Yes you are absolutely right. We must continue to insist on reform and reinstatement of the wild horses and burros and their legal and complete viable habitats for viable herds! It is so important we stop this evil persecution and elimination and domestication of these animals. Feel free to contact me at my email address which is ccdowner@aol.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

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