Thursday, October 14, 2010


In talking to another graduate student today, I was told that I was a rational human being.  We were discussing the amounts of some animals that have no where to go.  In my interest of wild horses, they cannot all stay out on the rangeland.   They must be rounded up.  But what's to do with them?  Long-term holding pens?  Sanctuaries?  Horse rescue associations?  Yes, some can be adopted, and sold.  But for those not under government care, slaughter is also an option.  Not all horses can be saved, and unless someone steps to the plate to take care of these horses, there has to be an alternative.  In an article regarding the Pacific Northwest tribal horses, they spoke of the free-roaming herds as livestock, and sometimes with livestock you have to cull some to trim the herd.  Looking at it rationally, I should think that is a viable option for the horses that must be removed, but cannot be placed in a home, or rescue.

I used to believe that the mustang of the American West was a truly wild, magnificent, perfect creature. I believed that rounding them up was unnecessary. Why not let nature kill off the weak, sick, dumb? When they ran out of food or water, they would die. The strongest would survive, and the herd would go on. It was my idea of nature's perfect system of checks and balances.

That was six years ago.

During my undergraduate studies, I wrote paper after paper about wild horse management. Slowly, one by one, they took on a more rational view of the wild horse on our public rangelands. I left my emotions behind, opened my eyes to more than the wild horse, and enveloped the entire scope of things. Rangeland degradation, overgrazing, cattle, salmon, pronghorn, elk, big horn sheep. I took a step back and saw the impacts that wild horses can have all the way down to the fish that live in streams.  They share the landscape with a variety of flora and fauna, humans included.

My knowledge continues to grow with every article and book that I read. Though I read the newspaper articles, they are too skewed one way or the other for my taste. I take little from them.  Recently, however, I did read in an opinion piece that the American wild horse is managed by emotions, not science. Since reading that, I personally try to quiet my love for horses so that I can see them and understand their impacts  rationally. It will do them better in the long run.

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