Many environmentalists see both the cattle and the horses as invasive species that compact the land in unnatural ways, making it hard for native plants to grow, and that take up what should be habitat for wildlife. Americans cannot conceive of a “West” without cowboys, bugle-blowing cavalry and mounted Sioux Indians surging across open plains.
The sight of a herd rushing through the deserts, draws and sagebrush country is beautiful, awe-inspiring, and unforgettable. This law authorizes the BLM to remove excess wild horses and burros to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands.
Culling the herd If you think the public has a bad reaction to shooting wolves as a management tool, try killing horses. Not surprisingly, according to biologists who authored a Slate Magazine article, “in just the past four years, wild horse and burro management has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $291 million, including $49 million annually to care for 46,000 captured feral horses in off-range corals.
“In Cloud’s remote mountain wilderness we have a perfect opportunity to step back and watch nature call the shots. They claim western grasslands are protected by “biotic crusts” of loose soil held together by vegetation and micro-organisms.
Or perhaps you’d like to work for the embattled Bureau of Land Management, stuck between a horse’s hoof and the proverbial hard place? Wild horses made their home on the islands of North Carolina centuries ago.
We will retain your information for as long as needed in light of the purposes for which it been obtained or to comply with our legal obligations and enforce our agreements. Is an environment, health and social justice writer, whose work has appeared in Narrative, Mind+Body, The Wayward Post and The Development Set, among others.
He snorted in our direction, white-rimmed nostrils flared, multi-hued mane and tail whipping in Wyoming’s notorious wind. Nearly a decade ago, during the summer of 2006, I worked as an archaeological technician for the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
We constructed ‘wildlife friendly’ fences that allowed antelope to pass through while blocking the movement of horses and cattle. On that particular afternoon, we were looking for ‘medicine wheels’, stone circles used in Native American spiritual rituals throughout Alberta in Canada and in the northern United States.
What we found was a symbol of freedom, a living icon of the American West, one whose preservation is increasingly controversial. In the 10 western states inhabited by mustangs, fewer than 60,000 wild equines compete with roughly 700,000 ‘animal units’.
An animal unit, consisting of one horse, one calf/cow pair, or five sheep, is a measure used to calculate foraging needs across species. The BLM has reduced domestic livestock grazing by a third since 1971, but wild horses have lost 41 per cent of their land in the same period.
In fact, mustangs and burros are allowed access to only about 17 per cent of BLM’s 155 million acres of grazing land. As equine herds grow, they outstrip limited resources and, to avoid thirst and starvation, they encroach on the areas designated for livestock.
Between 2008 and 2012, Tom Davis, a Colorado rancher, adopted 1,794 off-range mustangs from BLM, 1,700 of which he illegally sold to slaughter. To get around this, Davis transported the horses to Mexico, a process widely accepted as traumatic for the sensitive animals.
Equine advocates, in turn, lean hard on the animals’ iconic status as justification for their preservation. However, the Center for Biological Diversity blames cattle and their huge numbers for most of the region’s environmental degradation.
Disallowing public grazing of food livestock would leave greater space for mustangs to roam, allowing them to move through their landscapes more naturally. Fewer cattle would better allow researchers to examine whether and to what extent horses actually overgraze land and drive wild ruminants off preferred foliage.
Furthermore, without livestock herds to protect, the reintroduction of natural predators might allow an ecologically sustainable balance to emerge. And because these subsidized ranches provide less than 3 per cent of the nation’s beef, the change wouldn’t decimate the cattle industry.
Finally, keeping wild horses and burros in holding facilities costs an estimated $49 million annually. But in calling for solutions that reduce the number of equips, we pick the low-hanging fruit, missing the opportunity to address deeper questions.
Is an environment, health and social justice writer, whose work has appeared in Narrative, Mind+Body, The Wayward Post and The Development Set, among others. To lovers of North America’s wild horses, the mustangs’ link to their Ice Age relatives is far more important than their descent from introduced, domesticated horses.
Fish and Wildlife Service to list the animals as an endangered species because open rang eland is reduced and also less fit to graze. Many environmentalists see both the cattle and the horses as invasive species that compact the land in unnatural ways, making it hard for native plants to grow, and that take up what should be habitat for wildlife.
To the two groups that filed the petition, Friends of Animals and the Cloud Foundation, this was the re-introduction of a native species, much like the federal government re-introduced the wolf and grizzly bear to the Yellowstone National Park area after they had been hunted to extinction through most of the nation. It’s also a stretch to say that the Ice Age horse that went extinct thousands of years ago was, for most intents and purposes, the same as the one that now roams Western lands.
Wolves were hunted to near-extinction in the lower 48 in about 1960; they made their reappearance about 20 years later, crossing over from Canada, and then were re-introduced to Yellowstone and Idaho in the 1990s. It’s a rare bison that doesn’t have a strong strain of domesticated cattle in its blood.
Wild horses have become such an icon of the American west that it’s easy to forget that humans introduced them to the continent five hundred years ago, during the age of European exploration. Horses quickly became part of Native American livelihoods and played an integral role in Western expansion, from Lewis and Clark’s expedition to the establishment of the open range ranching culture that still exists today.
Today’s horses, Equus ferns, are likely descended from a Arctic population that once spread throughout Eurasia and North America, taking advantage of land bridges exposed during glaciations. By 10,000 to 8,000 years ago, American horses had gone extinct, likely due to a combination of hunting and climate change.
We’ve known that horses were native to the Americas at least since Darwin, who was shocked to find Equus teeth and bones during his explorations of Patagonia in 1833. And yet, well over a century later, the US Supreme Court oversaw a case to determine whether modern horses are native to North America.
The difference is between ice age landscapes and their modern versions is really about what’s gone missing: today, an entire functional guild of large herbivores and their predators, including horses, are absent. It’s not surprising that the domesticated horses brought by Europeans went feral and quickly adapted to conditions in the west; they’d only been gone for a few thousand years.
When it comes to wild horses, time is used as an argument to justify special treatment, but in this case, I’d argue that species are the units that matter. The semi-arid grasslands of the west co-evolved with horses, and there’s widespread evidence that large herbivores play important roles in their habitats, both past and present.
Horses could play an important role in the restoration of overgrazed, heavily-invaded habitats, but that would take a sea change in the perspective of land managers in the west. But the idea of horses as invasive pests is a subjective statement of values, not an objective fact.
My problem is not with ranchers who want to earn their livelihoods, but with land managers who are trying to hide preference behind the guise of objectivity. Maybe it’s time we stopped thinking of wild horses as invasive pests, and started celebrating them as a successful reintroduction.
As George Gaylord Simpson noted, the pattern of horse evolution was more like a shrub with tangled branches than a straight-trunked tree. All modern equips just happen to be the only survivors of what has been a rather diverse group over the evolutionary history of the horse.
The girlfriend of a good friend of mine is pregnant and won't stop smoking. She is currently destroying the life of a person before it even started and I wish we could just call the police and have her locked up or something.
Too many jobs today expect their employees to use their personal cellphones for work. Most of the time people are just seeking external validation and courage to do the thing they already know they need to do.
Most people in relationship issues are tiptoeing around communicating, whether its addressing mild annoyances, major infidelities, sharing bad news, breaking up, asking someone out, proposing. I've worked for a few different call centers and each one basically forces you to take abuse from callers, regardless of whether you're public facing or internal support for your company.
As if treating some lowly sales or tech support rep like garbage is somehow sticking it to the CEO of the company. If you like hard tacos please I beg just stop and give the angel soft chewy tortilla a try.
I never understood parents who just throw bland, streamed broccoli on a plate with barely any seasoning and expect their kids to want to eat it. I used to hate vegetables but after I started working in restaurants and learned how to cook properly they’re now some of my favorite foods.
There are plenty of recipes online on how to prepare veggies in a flavorful way without spending a bunch of money on ingredients as well. The clash traces some of the country’s biggest fault lines, including its urban-rural divide and the legacy of colonialism.
The horses, an invasive species whose populations are booming, must be removed because they are trampling ancient ecosystems in the Australian Alps already hurt by climate change, they say. They see rubies, the descendants of horses introduced by European settlers, as symbols of a rugged individualism that they believe is being lost in modern Australia.
Maguire’s lobbying for the rubies is part of a backlash to a growing movement in Australia to correct historical narratives that cast white settlers as conquering an “empty” and untitled continent. Instead, there is now broad acceptance of Indigenous people’s careful guardianship of the land for tens of thousands of years, before their territories and culture were stolen.
These efforts have been buoyed recently by the protests against racism in the United States, which have inspired activists around the world to tear down symbols of colonialism. In Australia, rural residents, who make up less than 30 per cent of the population, have often been at odds with city dwellers and urban politicians, seeing them as out of touch and incompetent in their management of the bush.
In New South Wales, which is led by the center-right Liberal Party, former politicians with financial interests in tourism operations that depend on the rubies helped drive a 2018 bill protecting the feral horses. The move by the state, Australia’s most populous, dismayed Australian and international scientists, who said it would set a “disturbing precedent”.
In the state of Victoria, which has a center-left Labor government, officials say they intend to proceed with culling hundreds of horses after Maguire lost a legal battle there. But leaving them to thrive in the bush, scientists say, would come at the expense of creatures and plants far more precious and rare.
Claims by crumby activists that the animals are simply a scapegoat for damage done by wild deer and pigs do not hold up against extensive studies of the region, the scientists add. A general distrust of science, fed by disinformation from the conservative media, has deepened rural Australia’s divide with the country’s urban areas.
“In the blink of an eye, a couple of cowboys comes in, wave their whips around, everyone gets all misty-eyed, and those lineages are relegated to the trash can,” he says. In the United States, park authorities spend more than $50m annually to manage booming mustang populations, which are protected from culling by federal law.
Leading the group towards a cattleman’s hut built by his great-uncle, Maguire began to recite the poetry of Banjo Paterson, an Australian author and journalist who documented the decline of pastoral ism and, along with it, a wild Australia. Owing to their dual status as an introduced and yet culturally significant species of Western Canada, free-roaming horse populations are a contentious environmental management issue in Alberta.
Alberta’s foothills run north along the western edge of the province in a series or long ridges and rolling hills. They serve as a headwater catchment, a region of rivers and streams that feeds ecosystems and waterways downstream, for most of Alberta, and are known for their wildlife diversity, including elk, moose, deer and bears.
Some feel that the horses were introduced and should be treated like invasive species, removed from the landscape by culling or using contraceptive control methods. The advisory committee includes non-profit organizations, horse-capture permit holders and Alberta Environment and Parks staff.
To do that, the Alberta government would need accurate population data of the free-roaming horses, and studies measuring the benefits of such a program on the ecosystem. In addition, researchers need to determine how many horses can live sustainably within the Rocky Mountain Forest Reserve before expanding the contraception program.
About the author: Tony Walker is an Assistant Professor in the School for Resource and Environmental Studies at Jalousie University. Jalousie University is a founding partner of The Conversation Canada, an online media outlet providing independent, high-quality explanatory journalism.