“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.