What You Can do to Save our Wild Horses and Burros
I’m frequently asked what can be done to save our wild horses. The truth is, there are so many things. Saving our wild horses is a multi faceted task, that takes all of us.
Recently, I was asked to help spearhead a project that was the brain child of photographer Kim Newman. She wanted to engage as many wild horse photographers as possible, and flood the decision makers in Washington DC with images and stories of our wild horses and burros. I think I can be fairly sure in my assumption that the people making these decisions concerning our wild horses, have never seen one, and don’t know much if anything about their lives.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over, and over and expecting a different result. By this definition, the Bureau of Land Management, BLM, is crazy as hell. Which comes as no surprise to anyone.
Currently there are over 53,000 wild horses in holding. This is an enormous amount of horses who have lost their homes and families. The cost to tax payers for these cruel and ongoing roundups, along with the cost of housing all these horses is in the millions. And yet, BLM plans to roundup up 10,000 more! The “Path Forward” which was crafted by Return to Freedom, The Humane Society, ASPCA, and the Cattleman’s Assoc. calls for the roundups to continue for the next 10 years in order to meet that 10,000 number. At the rate they are going however, 10,000 is going to happen sooner, rather than later.
Why, why all this insanity? This is a question with several answers. Let’s start with the livestock industry. For close to 100 years now, ranchers have been allowed to get a grazing permit to place their cows or sheep on public land. I suppose at first this seemed like an OK idea. People were trying to move west, and not everyone had the money to buy land. Even though it was ridiculously cheap at the time. The problem is, this antiquated practice is still happening today. Ranchers pay a paltry sum to have their animals on our public land, when in fact the use of public land, buy who knew, the actual public, has increased. About 1% of all beef consumed comes from cows grazed on public land. If this antiquated practice stopped right now, it would have zero affect on the beef market. In the mean time, camping, hiking, and other forms of recreation brings billions of dollars to local economies. This article from The Wildlife News spells it all out perfectly. This article from The Center for Biological Diversity goes more in depth on the ecological costs, as well as the economic costs of grazing on public lands.
It’s always fun to find the wild burros, for several reasons. First, they are cute as can be, especially the little guys. And second, they don’t seem to be in as many places as the wild horses, so seeing them is a real treat.
But lets get back to the main reason, the all encompassing cute factor.
We weren’t as lucky this time around. Arizona is in a bad drought year, and I think they are more spread out trying to find food right now. We did see a couple really young foals, but their moms were skittish and had them on the move in the thick brush.