BLM killing wild horses
Im Schlachthaus” by Lovis Corinth / public domain

“We need the tonic of wildness. …”

—Henry David Thoreau, “Walden”

The Bureau of Land Management is a federal agency tasked with protecting our heritage, including wild horses known colloquially as “mustangs.” These majestic animals have freely roamed North America since the Spanish reintroduced them to our continent in the early 1500s. But things have changed, and now a question has been raised: Is the BLM killing wild horses?

There is no thrill like watching a herd of these imposing animals run free as I myself have witnessed. They are intelligent and resourceful animals that have a matriarchal society, and they look to their leader like she was somehow elected by the herd themselves to lead them.

During World War I, more then a million of these animals had been conscripted for military combat with many more hunted and killed for sport or for dog food.

Finally, after years of abuse The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act was passed by President Nixon on Dec. 15, 1971, but even this law is not making a difference for these animals.

Now we have to ask why is the BLM not doing its job. Why is the BLM killing wild horses?

In the dichotomy of federal law, the BLM can use motorized vehicles to capture wild horses, but by law the BLM is not allowed to kill them (either directly or indirectly); whereas Fish and Wildlife Service can kill horses but can’t use motorized vehicles to capture them.

Yet the government wants these animals gone and has turned a blind eye to their knowingly being sold to slaughterhouses where their meat is often sold in Europe or Asia.  For instance, these nine countries — Mexico, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Belgium, Japan, Germany, Indonesia, Poland and China — actually consider horse meat a delicacy. Yuck, to me it’s like eating a friend!

Animals that are slaughtered in these slaughterhouses are conscious and shaking while they suffer excruciating pain as they lay dying.

Our wild horses are now going to slaughterhouses where their throats are cut like the way chickens are slaughtered. And the BLM is fully aware of their slaughter: In fact, they knowingly aid and abet this unlawful treatment of these very intelligent animals.

Recent evidence has established the BLM’s complicity in the illegal sale of these free-roaming animals after capturing them by helicopter herding. The BLM appears to knowingly have sold 1,794, if not more, federally-protected wild horses between 2009 and 2012 to a Colorado rancher, Tom Davis, who then sold them for slaughter. The BLM is tasked with following the horses sold to insure they are sold to good homes and are not slaughtered. Yet 1,794 wild mustangs managed to slip through the cracks? Indeed, these majestic animals were deliberately sold into painful deaths.

However, as the agents of this rogue agency broke federal law, like most agencies during this regime, no charges will be filed against anyone … as usual.

Why is our government allowing these wild horses to be rounded up and sold to slaughterhouses? The answer isn’t a pretty one: oil and gas leases, and who controls them as well as livestock grazing. There are 63,000 federal onshore oil and gas wells under BLM management. Those and cattle and sheep ranchers take preference over wild horses. In this case, it isn’t just the money but also the power and control of BLM resources; horses don’t have a lobby or money, so they come up short!

My experience with mustangs has been limited, but I can tell readers that I have witnessed their intellect watching me repair a gate. One actually came over to me and watched everything I was doing like he was studying for a college exam. He was probably “reverse engineering” it so he could go out on an adventure after I left.

These horses even have an understanding of human suffering, acting as psychotherapy assistants for returning military personnel. Studies have shown that they are a good resource in helping returning military personnel deal with post traumatic stress disorder. They are very relaxing animals to be around, and they elevate your mood.

The Wild Horse Act in 1971 placed these horses and burros under federal protection. The BLM was mandated to protect the remaining herds. Instead, it has been an ongoing obstacle to their survival. The BLM from the very beginning lied about the number of wild horses roaming free, which allowed the BLM to remove thousands from the ranges. They have been chased and scared half to death by helicopters, sprayed with buckshot, run down with motorized vehicles, run off cliffs, gunned down at full gallop, shot in corralled bloodbaths, and buried in mass graves to eliminate them.

All of this happened under the “watchful” eye of the BLM staff, headed by Ken Salazar, a cattle rancher. Salazar was appointed to head the Department of the Interior in 2009 by Barack Obama.

Horses are not part of America’s food chain!

During Ken Salazar’s reign as head of the Department of Interior, more than 35,000 wild horses have been rounded up and placed in pens. We now actually have more wild mustangs in pens then roaming free as they were meant to be.

The current Secretary of the Interior in Barack Obama’s administration is former REI CEO and former Mobil Oil executive Sally Jewell of Washington. She was confirmed by the Senate on April 10, 2013.

Hmm … first a cattle rancher, then an oil executive … does any of this make you go “hmm?”

To get a full understanding of the beauty and intelligence of mustangs, watch the movie “Hidalgo.” It is a biographical Western based on the legend of American distance rider Frank Hopkins and his mustang, Hidalgo. In the last few minutes are viewed hundreds of mustangs running free, as they should.

Consider that our heritage is under a current state of flux: we are always mindful of changing times and attitudes toward our world. In the end, the old remains, the new is but an extension of the past, and we are part of only a sliver of a moment in time.

73 COMMENTS

  1. Wild horses and cattle compete for forage, resulting in an overgrazed landscape. It is not so much oil and gas – it is the grazing interest that is most for wild horse eradication.

    If our lands are denuded and biologic diversity suffers, somethings have to give. Cattle first, then horses, should be the mantra. All of it based on ecological rather than Range Con science, as Range Con professionals have a bias for cattle and ranchers, whereas the biad of Ecology regards biological system health as a whole.

    The federal agenices need to formalize and implement a birth control program. Make a damn decision that pisses everyone off. Instead, they have been in fearful gridlock.

    Inaction is action with consequences.

    • I agree, except for one thing. The land is rested from cattle grazing, every year. Sometimes cattle won’t return to an area for 2 years or more depending on the grazing system.

      Horses not so much. Horse remain, with unfettered access to land they graze to dust, all year long, moving only far enough to find more grass to erradicate as long as they are still within reach of the spring that they will eventually destroy.

      The grass, the springs, and the wildlife will be absent from an area long before the horses ever leave.

      Cattle are managed, horses are not.

      • Unlike cattle, horses travel and do not stay in the same area. Additionally, we have about 1% of the horses we used to have out on the range, which means we have eradicated 99%. Our Federally-protected wild horses and burros have been almost “managed” to extinction.

        • You live in kansas or missouri or where ever.

          We had over 12 horse-vehicle accidents in Nevada this past holdiay weekend, just ask the highway patrol. While you are at it, ask the rural communities of Nevada that have to suffer with way too many horses.

          You live in kansas, go to hell.

          • I do not live in Kansas, but even if I did, I am entitled to report that we have almost managed our Federally-protected wild horses and burros to extinction, with only 1% left out in the wild.

            Anybody from any state can Google and wee that there were not “12-horse-vehicle accidents in Nevada this past holiday weekend.” That’s no surprise, as there are hardly any of our wild equines left to enjoy.

            There were, however, many vehicle-to-vehicle accidents. My guess is that you do not want to manage vehicles to extinction.

      • You generalization of land resting for a year is baffling. Have you any knowledge of the allotments and how they are run?

      • Horses are not tearing up the land, they have upper and lower teeth, they graze and leave the grass roots in tact. Cattle only have bottom teeth and they pull the grass up by the roots ruining the land, and no grass left they stand in water when hot, horses don’t just stand in water, sure they get in but they keep their water clean, cattle don’t , I grew up on a Dairy Farm, we had to fence in our pond to keep the cattle out of it, but piped water up to a big tank for them to drink, and the overflow also kept a stream flowing all year round, except when we had a deep freeze, and we kept the water tank heated and water for them then.

        • Judy you are exactly right about the grazing habits between equine and bovine species, cattle are terrible but sheep are worse. The excuse is a cop out. Obama allowed the opening of slaughterhouses immediately after he was sworn in … The horse was originally brought to North America (although fossils of equine have been found existing from ancient times) by the Spanish and later, colonists…we know how Obama feels about our colonist forefathers, he despises American history and development. Horses represent an American spirit, they symbolize freedom and more importantly, their ancestors helped military, pioneers and immigrants settle the American landscape – natives found them useful in their resistance. The feral or wild horses are easily gentled and broke…if we exterminate the wild mustangs, we exterminate a major symbol of our participation in resistance to be owned by a centralized power. Men in power resent the freedom of the wild horse – a wild spirit that must be contained or diminished.

      • First of all the cattle is NOT absent from the range longer then it is shipped to the feedlot. Then a new bunch comes in. Horses do NOT need to be “managed” livestock does. When there is only 17 000 Wild Horses, to 9 million head of livestock on the range it does NOT take an Einstein to figure which one damages the range!

    • You are WRONG Chris. It should be Mustangs first then cattle ….if. Domestic livestock does NOT belong on the range. Mustangs were here long time before settlers arrived with their domestic livestock. “Public” means it is for everyone not just for the welfare ranchers who have no pride. I won’t support anyone’s private enterprise with my hard earned tax dollars. OFF THE RANGE WITH THE STINKING CATTLE!

    • Chris- do you have kids????? Well, there are way too many kids, that have kids, that have kids. Overpopulating this earth and something will have to give (YOUR WORDS). You think that greedy industries have priority to the free roaming horse, wolf, bison, and many other species that help our eco system survive and remain healthy. All YOU see is dollars. You are wrong! What makes you think it’s okay for cattle (private property) to graze on public land????? To have our horses sent to the slaughterhouse illegally by using MY tax dollar. I don’t think kids are as necessary as some (like you) people think and believe it’s okay to send fertile women that have nothing better to do than populate this earth, to the next butcher to be “sterilized” the only way a butcher knows how to do. What a lovely thought. It’s as okay to me as much as “sterilizing” a horse and sending it to slaughter is okay to you. Inaction is action with consequences indeed. Oh, and by the way, buck you!

  2. That’s great Jack, you explain every mystical attribute of the horse, real and imaginary. However, you failed to address the crux of the problem; the land.

    The Bureau of Land Management manages land, hence the term “Land” in the title. It is not the Bureau of Horse Management. Even though i don’t think they do a very good job sometimes, it is usually because they have thier hands tied, often it is because of some overly emotional activist with no actual connection with the land.

    Horses are not wildlife, they are not native, they are the product of 9000 years of selected breeding by humans, and North American ecosystems did not evolve with horses. I know you can butcher science to create your own reality, but it does not change anyone else’s reality.

    The reality is horses are destroying many parts of the west. There should absolutely be no reason anyone should see more horses than deer, more horses that antelope, more horses than elk, more horses than any other wildlife species.
    Ask the scientists, ask the widllife society, ask anyone who has spent time in the wild that has become overrun with feral (wild) horses and they will tell you about the absence of widllife, the loss of springs, the destruction of plant communities and the death and destruction they cause on our roadways. Horse need to be managed, not protected.
    Maybe someday you will see the forest through the horses, if there is anything left.

    • Because livestock on public land outnumber the horses by at least 50 to 1 their grazing is far more destructive to the land. Yes, it is the Bureau of LAND Management, but they are mandated to enforce The FREE ROAMING HORSE AND BURRO Act.

      • RRRrrrriiiiggghhhttt.
        You and every other advocate will flip your lid if the feds followed their own law, which includes the destruction of unadoptable horse as well as managing an ecological balance. Thats less horses, not more.

        BTW, how do you achieve a ecological balance with a domestic and invasive species?

        • Why would anyone want less than 1%? Over 99% of our Federally-protected wild horses and burros have been eradicated out on the range. It’s time to stop “managing to extinction.”

        • Your question about how do you achieve ecological Balance with a Domestic and invasive species? You mean like humans??? There are many important lessons to be learned from the animals we destroy. They may be the only thing that can save us from ourselves. Horses heal, dogs are unconditional, they kill only to survive and have shown mercy and compassionate to many of the creatures they hunt under mysterious circumstances. Yes, humans and their gluttonous needs….the world would end if there weren’t enough McDonalds hamburgers so keep those cows grazing and horses starving….

    • I’m from New York, but I did go to the finest ag school in the country and I’ve managed horse and beef cattle herds. The damage on turf and sod inflicted by the cloven hooves of cattle is far worse than the damage done by horses. And then there’s the high level of gas emissions/greenhouse effect from a ruminant versus a non-ruminant. A steer consumes about 30 gallons of water a day, an average wild horse — about 800 pounds, might consume 10 gallons. Get your facts straight.

  3. A domestic and invasive species? That would be cattle! And the main thought process of the BLM and livestock companies certainly does not seem to be concerned with any kind of “ecological” balance. Ecological balance certainly would be a novel approach, considering how many species have already been eradicated from our planet. Too many HAs and HMAs, which were supposed to be for the wild horses & burros, already have more cattle than horses. Many herd areas have been zeroed out (look at the BLM’s own figures). Why remove the horses from the areas that were set up for them – only to stock cattle. Oh yeah, the cattle turn a profit! As do oil & gas wells. They also damage the entire environment. But thats ok – they turn a profit!
    The Wild Horse & burro Act of 1971 set out to protect the wild horses & burros – the amendments added on since then have changed the whole wording. For profit!

  4. Where Have All the Wild Horses Gone?
    Cate Crismani
    http://earthtalk.org/where-have-all-the-horses-gone/

    Did you know that in the last 40 years 50 percent of the world’s wild species have been decimated? Wiped off the planet. Never to be seen again except in books or on the Internet. In one word, extinct. It is a fact. Another fact, the decimation is still going on now, taking its toll on the wild horses and burros roaming freely on the ranges in 10 U.S. states by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the Department of Interior (DOI).

    So what is really going on? Follow the money. Cattle ranching, fracking, urban development, mineral and metal exploitation, hunting and corporate greed have all taken their toll on the wild horses and burros on public land. Frankly, on all of nature and its inhabitants, including humans. The wild horse and burro advocates are up against strong opposition and pro-lobbying groups for the NRA, the cattle and meat industry, corporate oil drilling and natural gas fracking, which, I might add, uses millions of gallons of water to keep the boring drills cooled off, along with uranium mining to produce plutonium. You do know that plutonium is a radioactive metal, produced from uranium, and used to manufacture nuclear weapons? And that both plutonium and uranium are nuclear reactor fuels? And that both are extremely radioactive and deadly? All of these groups are very powerful and very well-heeled.

    The wild horse advocates have no lobbying group and very little financial strength to hire one. Most spend and donate out of their own pockets to support the wanning, but needed, legislative changes

    Wild horse and burro advocates are constantly on guard and on roundup sites in protest. Petitions run rampant on change.org and other petition sites demanding an end to these inhumane roundups. But the roundups continue ad nauseum

    Against all odds, the wild horse and burro advocates continue to fight the good fight. One some believe is a loosing battle. These dauntless folks are the only voice for the protection and preservation of these majestic animals to live freely and unharassed. So they press on with the belief that the price of freedom is constant alertness and the willingness to fight back.

    • One problem; horses are not wildlife. They are feral domestic animals.

      So thank you for demonstrating the butchery of science that advocates commit when they try to twist facts in to support for their obssession with barnyard animals. Vicarious pets have no place on public land.

      • Obviously Cryptochrid has never read the Wild Horses and Burros a Act of 1971. The Horses are, indeed, designated “wild” under the Act. Not just Wild animals but “protected” wild animals. His obsession with Livestock does not permit him to see anything but livestock.

      • Crypto per the BLM and USFS from 2014 there were 2.1 million cattle grazing on 251 million acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service. The cattle/sheep out number wild horses 37:1. The numbers do not lie. The cattle ranchers of the West do not, by themselves alone, provide beef to our country. The MAJORITY of cattle raised for food comes from the rest of the country and NOT from the western states where wild horse herd areas are located. The BLM has zeroed out over half of the original 53.8 million acres of herd area land set aside by Congress for wild mustangs and burros. You speak of the horses degrading the land. Of the federally protected land which has been taken away from the wild horses and burros, cattle and sheep are still allowed to graze. The problem of overgrazing and damage to riparian areas would not be due to wild horses, again the numbers do not lie.
        Regarding the FRWHB Act and the destruction of wild horses, the BLM has made no concerted effort to increase adoption rates or to improve and increase physical (not online) adoptions. There is no overpopulation wild horses and burros (the overpopulation are the cattle and sheep grazing on designated land that is by law supposed to be “devoted principally” to wild horses).
        As to your “One problem; horses are not wildlife.” So you refer to them above as “not native” and “not wildlife.” I will not be butchering science and twisting facts. The family of Equidae of which modern horse (E.callabus) evolved in North America occurred about 55 million years ago. This is fact and would be considered very American or native. Molecular biology samples taken from permafrost in Alaska of E. lambei is genetically identical to the modern horse (Kruger et al. 2005). Molecular biology evidence is not me twisting facts to support barnyard animals. Had it not been for modern horse making it across the Bering Land Bridge into Siberia, horses as a species would be extinct. To say the horse did not biologically evolve in North America is wrong and to say it is not part of the ecosystem is irrelevant. Of course the ecosystem in the West is different from how it was 9,000 years ago and it was also different 20,000 years ago, and so on and so on! The ecosystem and the “native” species living in it would have had to adapt to the roller coaster warm/cold changes of the climate. So, a native species such as the horse cannot be considered an invasive species.
        Let’s now address your reference of wild mustangs as “…not wildlife,” and “… are feral domestic animals.” The word “feral” is only a reference to behavior and the word “domestic” has nothing to do with the biology and genetics of the horse. They are the same species which originated in North America whether they were domesticated or not is a moot point. The barnyard cow, however, did not originate in North America.

        • “To say the horse did not biologically evolve in North America is wrong and to say it is not part of the ecosystem is irrelevant.”

          Only if you do not care about what happens to native wildlife. You are essentially saying that change is inevitable, so why not let the horses do their damage? By that logic, there is no reason to complain about cattle, either. Or climate change.

          The fact is, horse advocates are content to let horses destroy native systems just like they accuse cattlemen of allowing abuse to satisfy their singular interest.

  5. Horses graze differently than cattle. they bite the grass…snipping it off in most cases…cattle on the other hand wrap their tongues around the grass & pull. In most cases the roots can come out with the rest of the plant. If the land is stressed , you tell me what does the most damage? The land is paid for by taxpayers who want the horses there. The BLM should be working for taxpayers, not he cattlemen. Beef producers have one of the biggest lobby groups…yes money talks & the horses suffer!

    • Lies. Go talk to anyone at any university that teaches biology, agristology, plant taxonomy, widllife biology, ecology, archeology, or any other ology and they will tell you that unmanaged horses are absolutely destructive to the environment.

      Every science institution supports this position, including the wildlife society and the sierra club in addition to academia.

      • Did you mean “agrostology?” And “wild life biology?” Again, we have almost managed our Federally-protected wild horses and burros to extinction. We have only 1% left. It’s time to start the alarm bells to protecting the remaining equines that we have left.

      • Crypto you, go find yourself a hole and stay there. Your comments here are a dead give away, that you are one of them shameless “welfare ranchers”. What would you know about “science, wildlife biology, etc ” these are big words. Do yourself a favor and stop posting…..your comments are ludicrous! Educate yourself and read Craig Downer’s, “Wild Horse Conspiracy” there you’ll find some real info. Mr Downer is a world renown wildlife ecologist who studied wild horses for 25+ years.

  6. No need for “birth control” called PZP that is registered by the United States Humane Society as an EPA “restricted use pesticide” made from slaughterhouse pig ovaries because the truth is America’s wild horses are UNDERPOPULATED now. About 70,000 have been rounded up and removed from the wild since 2009. The natural balance is upside down–resulting in more wildfires, etc. Why does the BLM let public land get damaged by livestock, mining, oil, gas and others? How many wild horses are left in the wild? It’s time to standup and protect them not believe the propaganda against them.

  7. “Now we have to ask why is the BLM not doing its job. Why is the BLM killing wild horses?”

    Because pro-horse advocates will not allow them to. The Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 specifies two possible outcomes for those horses gathered from public lands–they may be adopted, or they may be “destroyed”. Those not adopted are to be humanely destroyed. Later legislation (the “Burns Act”) provides also for their sale for any purpose (i.e. slaughter), but of course this is completely unnecessary if BLM does the job they were originally directed to do. The law makes no provision for warehousing animals and, in fact, demands that they instead by managed in a cost-effective and humane manner. Warehousing is neither of these, yet this is the role into which BLM has been pushed by pro-horse advocacy groups. How ridiculous that such people would pretend that they want BLM to “do its job”. The only reason they get away with it is that most people have no idea what BLM is actually directed to do.

    • There is no reason to round up or “warehouse” any of our lovely wild horses or burros. We have only 1% left out on the range where they belong, producing much-needed income from tourist.

      • One very good reason is the damage that results from grazing. Both horses and cattle have devastated native plant and animal species, severely degraded soils, and spread invasive plants across the region. They may be lovely, but so are many other species.

        • Horses belong on our public lands, cattle do not. Horses are a surviving species. Cattle are not and neither are sheep. Overgrazing is the burden of the rancher who has overstocked the grasslands from the beginning. The problems of desertification have been being addressed from the 1880’s but summarily glossed over by the business interest.

          • The law provides for the existence of both, and so I can only conclude that both “belong”. If not for legislation authorizing them, then then it would be more accurate to say that neither belongs on these landscapes. Both have proven to be highly destructive of the ecosystem and are permitted only because they please humans financially or emotionally.

            • The law does not provide for cattle and sheep. The law provides for the wild horses being set aside certain lands with minimal management and to be allowed to live out their lives as they naturally would. The law provided for multiple use. A permitting procedure was created which gave continued access to public land grazers. A permitting process which has gotten out of hand and now looms as the largest threat to our natural resources in the history of the United States. Be it mining, oil and gas leases, public land grazing and now sales to foreign interests.

              • Of course laws provide for cattle and sheep grazing. It was to ensure the proper management of cattle and sheep grazing that the Grazing Service was legislated and its function has since been legally transferred to other sanctioned government agencies.

                I agree that our lands have been abused, but disagree with your position that horses are not part of the problem.

    • There was nothing in the original Act, since you want to debate, that a number would be placed on the herd areas limiting their residence. That was a contrived management tool forced by ranchers who instead want to manage their cattle and sheep herds by the condition of the land on as year to year basis. So they are free to overstock. Your argument that the horses are overpopulated and need to be euthanized is relying on that contrived policy. The Act, as it was voted on by Congress read that the hores were to be minimally managed but attention paid to the land on which they were found. If the land appeared not able to support the horses, then the solutions were simple.

      You cannot say that with the present policy of eradication – that blm is complying with the law of minimally managing. blm has become the arm of those who wish to convert public land to personal use and THAT IS ILLEGAL. So Stewart Lands, you entire argument reeks of personal gain. We have sought to compromise by refusing to euthanize the tends of thousands of horses that should be on their herd areas in order to allow ranchers, sheepherders, oil and gas and mining to TAKE ADVANTAGE of the multiple use mandate which they forced down our throats as a trade for the right to allow wildlife to live on our public land.
      But that didn’t work out so well. So the solution now? Ban all domestic grazing on public lands, allow all mining leases to expire and repatriate the land (which is also not happening) to its former state. That land is not for sale. It was presented in trust and it is abused. Even recreation and fishing was stopped with “No Trespassing” signs and locked gates. LOL Compromise with those business interests turned into a door for foreign investment. Mt. Moly in NV is now a Chinese leasehold for creation of the world’s largest molybdenum mine. And all the wild horses of the area have been “zeroed out.”

      End public land grazing and all oil and gas extraction and all mining. Return the wild horses and burros (those still alive, most burros have been converted to skins for Chinese tonic, now for sale on eBay) Then we will have peace. And America will have her wildlife back, safe and sound. So Stewart Lands, your less than informed statement of what the Act is and what it wasn’t is pitiful.

      • Most of your comments simply criticize the wasteful over-exploitation of public lands. I certainly hope that you do not expect me to take issue with you on this. I am the one who would extend this argument even to horses and the damage they cause to native plants and animals! So, if it is your point that cattle should be reduced, then reduce the cattle–I am fine with this and frequently advocate for exactly this outcome. What I am not “fine with” is the suggestion that BLM is not supposed to kill horses removed from the land. While we may argue about whether or not they need to be removed, there is no question that the law requires that, once removed, those that cannot be adopted are to be “destroyed”.

        As for the suggestion that ranchers forced BLM to their will, this is undoubtedly true, much as horse advocates have done the same, to the tune of fifty thousand warehoused horses and upwards of fifty million dollars in wasted money spent annually in their support. The fact is, the law itself was politically motivated (as most are) and the administration of the law is understandably responsive to political pressures as well. In fact, it is supposed to be. It is pointless, therefore, to pretend that there is a specific number of horses (or acres to be set aside for horses) that meets the letter or intent of the law. In fact, legislators left these decisions to BLM and state agencies, to be determined with the input of stakeholders. To date, the courts, which constitute the least biased institution available to decide such questions agrees that the BLM has acted mostly within the confines of the law. Where it has failed to do so, the Court has imposed sanctions as necessary to ensure compliance.

        In fact, I have made no effort here to argue that horses are overpopulated, as this seemed a departure from the point of the article. This is not to say that I believe they are not. As there is no ecologically sound premise for allowing the reintroduction of horses to North America, and given that any number of horses (or cattle) do cause damage to native species, then it goes without saying that, except for political purpose to suit humans, the correct number of horses and cattle on these lands must be zero. But, of course, such is not the intent of public lands or the concept of Multiple Use. These lands are intended to provide valuable resources, recreation, etc. and so horse advocates, like miners, ranchers, loggers, must each make their case and it is the responsibility of BLM to decide on the correct path. Sure, these advocacy groups may complain about the outcome of the decision, but they cannot rightfully complain that BLM acts beyond its authority in forming a decision with which they disagree, unless it acts outside of the law. And that is for the courts, not any single advocacy group, to decide.

        • Horses are native. Have you ever been to Hagermann? They do not damage unless they are fenced in, which they are by cross fencing of public lands for ranching purposes. The fact of the matter is that without cattle and sheep overgrazing and casing desertification, this “problem” simply does not exist. Because with the wildlife came the predators and natural disaster. A perfect balance of nature.
          With the intrusion of business on the public lands, balance falls off and the wildlife lose. What I am saying is there would be n o need for killing excess horses without the intrusion of overgrazing by domestic public land grazing. It has been proven by Wild Horse Annie’s legacy of a sanctuary called International Society for the Protection of Wild horses and Burros who have allowed two bands to grow without restriction on their property. The population of the horses stabilized. That is what will happen on the wild grasslands owned by the public – given the cattle and sheep are banned.

          • And I am sorry but the FMLPA was just a tool for the ranchers to continue to overgraze. They have caused desertification which has permanently destroyed some public land and bald faced lie about their attempts to rehabilitate the land they wish to continue using – not only as a free pasture but to enrich themselves by inflating the value of their private property adjoined to it.
            Ranchers do not care one whit for “the enjoyment and pleasure of future generations”: which is an important criteria conveniently dropped off the recitation of multiple use. Desertification is not multiple use – it is used up. Ban public land grazing.

            • Yes, but the destruction caused by cattle cannot justify similar destruction by horses. Of course fewer cattle would allow more horses, but more horses are just as capable as destroying the land as too many cattle. From an environmental perspective, there is no reason to exchange one for the other–any such decision is purely political and meets only human needs.

          • Horses are native to the continent–but to an ecosystem that vanished from this continent during the Ice Age. Without predators, horses, like any large herbivore, will devastate the landscape and place native wildlife species at risk. This is well understood and accepted by anyone competent to manage their numbers. Humans are native predators to the horse, yet advocates suggest that their sole remaining effective predator should not fulfill his role. In that case, there is no reason to expect that horses will not devastate the landscape and I would support their complete eradication rather than permit them to multiply unhindered at great cost to other species. Is that what you wish?

            Whether Hagermann or anywhere else, horses left unchecked will multiply. No matter how large the space, they will eventually occupy it beyond its carrying capacity. I am very interested in learning more about the sanctuary upon which you suggest that horses exist without management and with stable populations. I have heard advocates make such claims before, but none have been proven true upon investigation. Respectfully, to which sources may you refer me to learn more?

              • The basic problem, which you ignoring and dancing around – is the permanent desertification factor brought on by overstocked cattle and sheep, which continues to this date. The horses’ influence on the bounty of the grasslands is miniscule – but their needs and the needs of all other wildlife has been permanently impinged such that focused management MUST be enacted to bring the public land grazing to a HALT and care for the wildlife struggling to survive on the leftovers of the meat industry be inflated with the monies saved from the subsidies no longer paid to the grazers for their “losses.” It is a dramatic view, but only because it is not going along with the ruination of our public land for the enrichment of a few very ignorant business people.

                • I am not ignoring cattle or sheep. I have clearly stated that they are part of the problem–undoubtedly the major part of the problem. But this does not excuse additional damage by horses, does it? You suggest that the damage done by horses is minimal, but I disagree completely–on the basis of personal observation as well as studies published by peer-reviewed professional journals and assessments made by groups such as the National Academy of Science specifically identified (by law) for this purpose.

              • Unfortunately, horse populations cannot fall before the land has been severely degraded. This is a hard lesson which we have learned time and time again. Overpopulation of horses will result in exactly the same type of damage that we currently see with an overpopulation of cattle on public lands–only magnified many times as there is no reason to expect that horses will stabilize at numbers lower than is currently permitted. The result is devastation to native plant and animal communities, and this is why pro-environment groups such as the Sierra Club oppose the wishes of horse advocacy groups.

                  • I have heard the pro-horse advocacy argument over and over. Unfortunately, it does not mesh well with the data published by the National Academy of Sciences, peer-reviewed studies published in professional journals, etc. Why should I trust advocates over neutral parties? That was the entire point of my original post.

        • It is not horse advocates who have stopped the killing of the thousands of horses taken off their land – it was Congress. Get your facts straight.

          • Really? Perhaps you will cite current law that prohibits the destruction of unadopted horses? Or past law, for that matter…

        • “Stewart lands”, go read Lewis & Clark’s account on the condition of the lands of this continent as it was discovered; they reported having seen millions of wild horses, buffalo and other wildlife, living in harmony and the grass was 4′ tall….so what was missing? The two legged “invasive species” and their domestic livestock!

  8. We dont need federal land for private profit – private livestock land leases. The government has unfairly subsidized a select few with federal land leases and they believe they are ‘entitled’ to the land. A full accounting must be made public – including an actual count of privately owned livestock on public land and an actual accounting of all horses that have been rounded up and are supposedly in holding that someone is collecting federal money for their care. If they are allowed to sell over 1700 for personal profit at taxpayers expense without prosecution, my guess is the ‘care’ money isnt taking care of any horses in holdings.

  9. The American Mustang is not a feral species – if one reads any reputable history book. You will see that Archaeologists and Scientists are in agreement that the horse, elk, buffalo and the wholly mammoth, along with the ancestors of the Native American Indian crossed into the Americas 10’s of thousands of years ago. Yes, some did die out and the horse was reintroduced by the Spanish and has flurished. This government agency (BLM) is selling America’s resources. And the mustangs along with buffalo and the wolf are just a few of the animals who are being watched over by advacacy groups, other wise this government would just as soon see them gone — forever –for profit.

    • Propaganda. You will only find that sort of information on horse websites asking for money. Science does not support unmanaged feral horse populations eradicating the gramanoides of North America.

      It is a totally artificial and human induced scenerio.

    • The term “native” simply means that they originated in this area. The fact that horses did (during the times of woolly mammoth, smilodon, etc) does not mean that they remain an essential or vital part of the ecosystem that exists here today, thousands of years later. In fact, most of the megafauna of the time went extinct along with the horse, including all of its effective predators except man. History shows that introducing species into a system in which it does not belong is a recipe for ecologic disaster. Consider the landscape at the turn of the twentieth century when many millions of wild horses and wild cattle were allowed to run free on public lands and damaged them to the point that the US finally legislated controls such as the Grazing Service. One cannot responsibly argue that horses can be reintroduced without some form of controls. Nor can one argue for some sort of return to “natural” conditions and then in the same breath exclude the last remaining, effective predator on the horse (man) from playing his natural and necessary role in controlling their numbers.

      • OH so now, we refine the meaning of “native” – again to suit the idiotic horse haters. Rewriting the dictionary to suit themselves. As for the landscape. The public land was capable of supporting millions and millions of grazing, roaming herds. Until the sheep and cattle were introduced. The Grazing Service was implemented to put a stop to the range wars and the horrific desertification by those grazers and that was back in 1880-1920. Wild cattle were not roaming in the millions. The long horn might as well have been wild, but they weren’t roaming in huge herds. Ha ha ha! I’ve heard it all now. Now, you crown yourself the last remaining and effective predator-you ridiculous. Of course, that is exactly why the Act was passed. To protect the horses and burros from people like you.

        It was horses and bison, elk, deer, antelope, prarie dogs, sage grouse, weasels, and every bird

        • I am not altering the definition. I am simply saying that being native to a region does not imply that the creature belongs in the ecosystem if the ecosystem of the region has changed. T-Rex is native to North America.

          I am entirely in favor of allowing millions and millions of grazing bison, antelope, elk, deer, etc resume their role within the ecosystem. I have no problem with cattle being replaced by bison, etc. Why do horse advocates insist that horses be thrown into the mix? Certainly, there is no ecologic justification.

          • Because the horse is a functioning partner of all the wild life you mentioned. Every ecologist can show you where the horse is an active and relevant partner in any healthy wildland habitat. Their grazing habits, their droppings, even their ability to run is a functioning of reproduction of the grassland by spreading seed whole (unlike cattle and sheep) and a challenge to the predator species. They have lived for eons with those very same foraging (and predator) species you named. Man did not invent horses. Horses evolved as a partner to all the animals you listed above – as did the wolves, pumas, weasels, raptors etc. Wildlife – all nonhuman beings were not invented by man. They all evolved and survived if they were able to adapt. The problem the horse has is not with where shall it take up residence – but instead its unfortunate partnership with some very mean spirited and selfish humans.

            • No, “every ecologist” cannot. What every ecologist not bound to horse advocacy organizations will agree upon is that horses are capable of inflicting enormous damage, and in many locations have already done so.

              Sure, horses help to spread seed–perhaps even better than cattle do. Is that supposed to justify their existence on a landscape that is rapidly being overgrown by “cheat” grass and thistle spread by horses? Native plants did just fine before the arrival of Europeans and certainly did not require horses to help spread their seed.

              In fact, horses evolved with an entirely different set of predators than we find in North America today. Even in places where mountain lions are protected, such as Nellis AFB and the entire state of California, these predators have proven incapable of controlling horse numbers. The one remaining native predator on the horse that can is man–yet horse advocates would refuse him this essential role because they care only about horses, and little about the ecosystem itself.

  10. Why don’t the impassion horse advocates go tell the families of people killed or injured in horse vehicle collisions in Nevada that there needs to be more horse roaming around? Explain to them how the horse is about to go extinct?

    The reason is because only the truly insane would try to argue in person and face to face that horses are wildlife in North America, are going extinct, are good for the ecosystem, are a symbol and whatever other crap they come up with.

    Only a complete idiot would believe what advocates say, and there are some idiots in washington d.c.

    • It seems as though you are posting the same thing again. Anyone can google and see there are not many — in fact, are there any at all in 2015? Again, we have just 1% of our Federally-protected wild horses and burros left out on the range where they belong. They are protected, as they should be, and generate tourist income for the states that are lucky enough to have them.

  11. All this yammering back and forth. It’s simple. BLM has failed to protect the wild horses and burros from predation of man, in the form of abuse, harassment, and slaughtering.

    Right now, there are branded wild horses standing in kill pens in Louisiana and Texas, Colorado, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. While all the blowhards smack their cards down – horses are dying.

    Crypto666 – you are a piece of work. For all you scream about know nothings, you take the cake. You know nothing. This is a land of law. Congress passed protection of the wild horses and burros from slaughter by a UNANIMOUS vote – the only such vote in the history of the US and stands today. American citizens do want the wild horses and burros protected. The ranchers saw their opening and took it and the program has become bloated with hot air since then. Just like you and some of the ones above, especially the one that loves to talk about slaughterhouses.

    It is way past time for all citizens to shake off the blowhard nonprofits, the idiotic horse haters, and the self flaggelating ranchers (who are endlessly suffering their chosen lifestyle for want of another taxpayer subsidy) and tell your Senator to send a thumbs down to blm. Cut payroll for employees who do nothing but push paper and make stupid decisions, cut the contracts for transporting, helicoptering, private land holding, fence building on the public land where the horses’ herd areas are and freshen the fouled water supplies (ruined by overstocked cattle and sheep) and return the thousands of horses to their lands. Of course, blm had such a heyday gelding every stallion they gathered that there will be lots of learning time for the horses once they get back to their land.

    But I doubt that it will happen. The drama of “red alerts” and “need money now” is just too enticing. Better to pay attention to the blowhards than to force your politicians to abide by the law. By the way, Committee for Agriculture just opened discussions for another infusion of taxpayer funds to the Farm Bureau for more low interest credit to the ranchers because they are having such a bad time of it.

  12. BLM, please do your job and protect the horses. Do not send them to slaughter. Remove all the cattle from federal lands. People, you need to help by cutting back on beef or lamb or quitting eating meat altogether.

  13. The land belongs to Americans. If they are going to allow cattle to destroy the land, Americans should at least be compensated accordingly. I’d say maybe 5000.00 a cow would be a good starting place. If you want the cows to just go away then don’t buy the meat. Apparently most of it is bought and sold by Whole Foods. I haven’t eaten meat for about forty years and I’m doing just fine.

  14. Thank you for the well written and researched article about wild horses. Unless we step up now and do something to stop the eradication of our wild herds they will be gone forever. Now the BLM is proposing to sterilize wild horses as a means of controlling population. If they are allowed to start that we’ve lost the battle.
    The problem is not an “overpopulation of wild horses” as many believe. The problem is the low AMLs (Appropriate Management Level) determined by the BLM. In allocating resources on our public lands, the lions share goes to livestock. See Vickery Eckhoff’s well researched article at this link: http://dailypitchfork.org/?p=920.
    The BLM has cost effective tools to manage wild horses “on the range” where they belong yet they continue to spend millions to research other methods – targeting sterilization. PZP can be used to effectively control population when used effectively. In fact there are thousands of volunteers out there willing to help implement fertility control programs. But unfortunately, about 70% of the remaining wild horse herds are no longer genetically viable (150-200 adult horses).
    If you have read this article and want to do something visit our website – http://www.thecloudfoundation.org/take-action/who-to-contact-what-to-say
    We need a lot of voices speaking out to save our wild horses from government destruction.

    • As I said before, it is time to shake off all the blowhard nonprofits. The Cloud Foundation (one of them running around the internet puffed up as an authority) has allowed the Pryor herd to be reduced to a pittance. The Pryor Mountain Range – the second herd area to be designated a range for wild horses is almost a million acres and is incredibly beautiful and bountiful but hard bordered by extensive cattle operations. The Cloud Foundation has agreed to PZP the herd of horses out there and a roundup this last year that reduced the population to a little over 100 – all color coordinated. Those taken off the range were not to the blm specifications for Spanish Colonial and this was celebrated by the Cloud Foundation. The Cloud Foundation is not the voice we need. They have given in and hide the fact that they have done so behind their “need a lot of voices.” I was at Billings this year protesting the Pryor roundup. We were scoffed at by The Cloud Foundation and chastised that we should learn how to get along with blm. There are many cold hard facts to this fight – this is one of them. This nonprofit and those hammering that they protect mustangs, preserve wild horses, respect horses, manage wild horses, or have some sort of fantasied inner road to wild horse education are all duplicitly involved in the obstruction of our protection of the wild horses. They will endlessly fundraise for donated dollars for lawsuits that go nowhere and do nothing, gas to visit the ranges, pay for lodging while they go out hunting for wild horses to shoot with darts full of birth control (which has been proven to kill future generations and some of the mares after repeated doses – let’s just say, they “disappear”), hay for their own hoarded horses, trips to roundups (for which no one sees the truth anymore), attending meetings at which they present petitions which are summarily counted as one (which they know will happen and continue to keep the hopes of newcomers up that they have the magic bullet) and lobbying dollars or travel expenses to attend select meetings in Washington with their host, blm. Do not rely on any of them to make any of these changes we need done – they have all been identified by blm as assets. Their volunteers have their costs paid. The only thing volunteer about these groups is the word.
      We lost the battle when they first found their niche and decided to appoint themselves leaders and our voices and wanted our money to be paid do so. Most of these groups are bringing in millions in total. This is a double sided sword we as citizens wield. Do not betray us and do not manipulate us and do not take our wildlife and open public land from us.

  15. Nice job, Janet Schultz…on all of the hard facts. However, we all know the Welfare Ranchers will never, ever “get it.” I guess if I had the federal government paying me to run my cows on public lands so that I can make some money…and then turn around and charge the public for the beef just raised on their land—I would not want to “get it” either. Welfare ranchers are users of the system. Yet they will be the first to complain about people on welfare. LOL! I also love it when they talk about the horse not being a native species…and therefore should not have protected grazing rights. And yet…the cow most certainly is not native, either. So how does THAT work?? No logic, no intelligence, no grasp of the facts unless they are twisted to support their needs and pocket books. I don’t want the federal government to give ME any land to run my cows on. I am not a Welfare Rancher. I have too much pride for that. I just want the federal government to give the wild, protected horses their land back. If there are only around 100K wild horses left in our country counting those still on the range and those warehoused (probably a high estimate)…running on the 53.8 million acres designated for them….well…according to my calculator, that is 530 acres per horse. Since it really only takes about 5 acres per horse to keep your pastures healthy…or at least that is true in my 60 years of keeping horses…I’m guessing “damage from grazing” would be pretty non-existent.

    • Very good job Janet Schultz, and Gail Clifton, I grew up on a Dairy farm, you have to move them to new pasture and watch the weather. or they tear up the pastures. I am 67 and my Dad had to stop because of health reasons, milking cows, so we raised AQHA and Part Arabs for awhile, 37 years my Dad raised his herd. He was selective breeding, and the horses never tore the ground up like cattle, We had a big 5 acre pond, and we had to fence the cattle out of it, or they would muck it up and stand in it, we used pond water to water 2 other barns and do farm work, cleaning up etc, and well water to sanitize the dairy equiptment, We milked 150 cows and raised our own replacements, we never bought any. I saw the wild horses running on Summer when Dad took us to Washington State, to my cousins wedding, and they were so awesome!! I want this for my Grand and Great Grandchildren to see, but BLM is taking them off the land, and making them extenct, it is so Wrong! These horses have been here for hundreds of years, and native to the land, cattle is food for people, horses are not. So BLM wants money and is selling them off and now even selling the land that was set aside for the wild horses and burro’s to live wild and free on. They have gone too far!! PZP after a few uses makes a mare sterile. and BLM gelds the stallions, that is not Natural Selection, which they had for many years, The rounded up horses are being abused in dry lots that are slop pens, and die there, foal in it, and we have to buy hay and water to bring in to them, when they have land they could live free on!! This is a very dumb fight. The horses were there first, and they live well with wild life, Buffalo and Elk and deer, there is no reason for BLM to remove so many of these horses and selling so many to kill buyers, and wild horses were darted years ago with meds and other things, this makes their ability to be in our food chain not possible, Cancer is caused by this tainted horse meat that has been found by testing in California, Fla, and even New York. among other states, There are No Legal Horse Slaughter houses open for many years in the USA. They are shipped to Mexico, who is now getting rejected loads of meat returned to them because it is tainted horsemeat in it. Canada is now protesting the taking kill horses over their border being flown to other Countrys, and they have been found to be tainted meat,.. The Government gave these wild horses and burro’s to live wild and free on, they didn’t need to be experimented on all these years, and now rounded up and put in awful dry lots, where there is no shade, no wind breaks, and slop, so many die there, We pay for hay and water, to be brought to them, when they could be on their land wild and free, and cost us nothing, BLM has even sold some of this land, not their’s to sell, it was given to horses and burro’s, Without them we would not be America that we are today!! I think they should be put back on their lands, carefully, and left wild and free, no PZP, and other things used on them, it is their land, not BLM’s to take them off of and to sell land leases to cattlemen and sheep people. It belongs to the wild Horses and Burro’s!! No Exceptions. BLM is trying to remove our treasure of History of America by taking them all off the land, just so they can sell them, and to sell leases on the land, and even sell the land, they have no right to sell this land!! Stop the fighting and read what the original Grant was and said, BLM disbanded, and real caring people put in to watch over those wild horses left, and out of these alful dry dirty lots they are in, enough is enough, We have lost thousands of bloodlines of horses we will never get back, it is time to stop this, and leave the wild horses alone, natural selection. Burro’s too. The Damage has been done to the no return level.. We have no open slaughter houses in the USA for Horses. this tainted meat is being put into our food supply, and Cancer is a nasty thing for children and people to have, Stop the Slaughter and test all food brought in our country, as it is being sent in because The Government did not Pass the Complete Information Label of Contents law, so things are not labeled and left off it, To know it was found in New York, that is so wrong, we are killing our people by feeding them this tainted meat, and they know nothing of it, it has been going on too many years, and Cancer is higher now too!! Make the Complete Label Act go through, no exceptions!! Stop what is happening to people in the world eating horsemeat, it is wrong, We are sending them over Mexico and Canada, Block the borders, do not let any horse slaughter houses open again, and stop the Money talking!!!! it is hurting AMERICA!! Stop the inhumane places these horses are held, and let them loose on their land, what is left of them, That is their land, given to them, why are you doing to them what you did to the Indian’s.. promises are nothing, if they are not kept. This land was promised to the horses, burro’s no one else, This needs to be a United Movement to Stop the Round UPs, and Dry lots, and leave them wild and free on this land. BLM needs to be made to pay back to people they sold leases to, so many of them are Millionaire Ranchers, they are not poor, and needy in any way. Read about them, they are very famous people out there that are on this list. Correct the Wrong, and Stop what is going on. let the Horses be wild and Free and alone, again, Burro’s too!! BLM needs disbanded NOW!!

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