The introductory material in the new WHB management plan, beginning on page 2, is not complete. You might get the impression that wild horses are the problem.
Mustangers were not ordered to harvest them for commercial purposes, such as the production of dog food. That’s how they got rid of the carcasses. They were hired by ranchers to clear the range of anything that robbed forage from their livestock.
Yes, the WHB Act has been amended by Congress on four different occasions—at the behest of ranching interests. That part was not stated. The original Act protected the horses from ranchers, not drillers, loggers and miners.
Velma understood the issues. Today, most wild horse ‘advocates’ do not. In their zeal for contraceptives, they’ve sided with the ranchers.
Yes, the number of wild horses on western rangelands has grown, while the amount of land reserved for them has gone down. That part was carefully omitted. When the Rock Springs RMP amendments are implemented, the loss will be roughly 50% (of the land inhabited by these animals in 1971).
Lands no longer managed for wild horses and burros don’t have enough resources to support them, but somehow, privately owned livestock seem to do just fine.
If nothing is done to reduce growth rates, the on-range population of wild horses and burros could reach 2.8 million by 2040. OK, why is that a problem? Because it will lead to catastrophic harm to the land and to other species—meaning it will put the livestock operators out of business.
This plan is nothing but a shameless defense of the public-lands ranchers, who hide in the shadows while the government does their dirty work. It’s one of the best examples of crony capitalism you’d ever want to investigate.
RELATED: WHB Strategy in the News.