Credit: Wild Horses by RickC Via Creative Commons
Here we go yet again. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency within the US Department of Interior plans to resume another roundup of wild horses this coming winter. According to the BLM, the roundups are needed in order to control the horse population. The roundups have taken place numerous times, and have resulted in the deaths of over 100 mustangs in Nevada last year alone.
So, what exactly takes place during these roundups? To be specific, the roundups involve the use of helicopters that drive the horses into corrals. Needless to say, this is not a pleasant experience for the horses as they are forced to run to the point of exhaustion. They are chased for miles to a designated area where they are then picked up by truck and driven to various holding facilities. The horses could remain there for several years if not adopted or sold. Moreover, as much as ten percent of the horses are killed as a result of stress or injury that occurs during the roundups.
And what happens to the horses when they are sold? Unfortunately, there have been times in the past that these beautiful mustangs have been sold to “killerbuyers” around the world and slaughtered for financial profit. And even if the BLM makes every effort to assure that the wild horses don’t end up in the hands of unscrupulous buyers, there is no guarantee that these beautiful horses will be sold to a loving family where they can live the rest of their lives in green pastures. The fact is that many of these wild horses have ended up dead when they could have been still roaming free on public lands.
Interestingly enough, the BLM does not own the horses. They simply manage the herds on public lands. The American people are the owners. It is our tax dollars that are being spent for these roundups. And the amount spent is well into the millions. For example, the cost to manage these wild horses is at $75.6 million this year, and that number will increase to $79.5 million for next year!
As previously mentioned, the BLM says that they do these roundups in order to control the horse population. According to the latest BLM statistics, the wild horse population is 33,692. In addition, there are another 4,673 burros roaming freely. Moreover, these numbers are the total number of free roaming horses that are on BLM ranges in 10 Western states. And if the total number of free roaming horses seems like a lot, it in no way compares to the number of wild horses that used to roam free. For instance, there were an estimated two million wild horses roaming free in the year 1900! Yet, that number has been drastically reduced over the years as a result of human intervention.
Isn’t it interesting that in 1900, there were nearly two million wild horses roaming free, and yet the land could sustain the large number of horses. Yet, today with a far lower population of horses, the BLM says that there are too many of them. In addition, there is a huge controversy over what number is considered reasonable. By the way, do we decide what number is reasonable for the human population? Does 30,000 or 40,000 seem reasonable? Surely, one can see just how ridiculous this level of reasoning can be when we look at it from a “human” perspective.
There is an array of hope among what seemingly appears hopeless. In particular, there has been some progress made to establish wild horse “ecosanctuaries” through private-public partnerships. At this time, all of the details have not been worked out yet, but if the proposals allow for the horses to roam free, it certainly would be welcoming news. In the meanwhile, the roundups will continue. As a result of the roundups, some of the horses will not survive.
And how did we get here in the first place? In other words, why are the wild horses being managed in such a way that put the horses at risk for injury or death? Is chasing the horses with helicopters in order to capture them a humane way of managing the horses? Be sure and watch the short video clip to see an actual roundup, so that you can decide. In my opinion, one needless death is one too many.
Perhaps we need to refocus our priorities, and start managing ourselves a bit more responsibly. At the rate this country is being developed, will there be any space left for horses or humans? Do we have enough shopping malls, convenience stores, fast food restaurants, etc.? Does the number of strip/shopping centers exceed the number of wild horses? What’s a reasonable number of shopping centers? Did we consider that in the plans? Do we have enough entertainment complexes to keep us busy for the next several generations?
Never mind how all of this living a life of excess is depleting our natural resources. After all, we do not have an endless supply. How are we managing ourselves? Do the choices we make on a daily basis impact only us? Are we responsible for creating a competition for our natural resources? The more demands we make on our environment; the bigger the consequences we all face. Nonetheless, our beautiful wild horses are not immune to the strain “we” put on our natural resources.
Do we want to just speak of the wild horses in the past tense? Do we really want to share stories of what it was like when the wild horses once roamed free? Are they going to put wild horses in the zoo in order to show kids what they look like, but will the kids learn anything about the wild horses natural behavior?
For me personally, I would love to know that our wild horses are not just a part of history. After all, do we want to think of the wild horses as “what once was?” Wouldn’t it be nice to know that the horses will still be here roaming free for many generations to come? And why not forever free as nature intended for them to be?