Friday, November 19, 2010

Ramblings of right and wrong

I get so tired of talking to people who feel they are so educated about the "truth" about how many horses are out there, or the "truth" behind the reason the BLM is removing them, or the "truth" in how they are being rounded up.  Then, I get so frustrated because I try to tell them what is right once you rip all the layers of fabrication away.  Then I am frustrated further when I am told to educate myself by visiting someone else's blog!  As far as I am concerned, one will not find the answer in someone else's idea of what the truth really is.

And then...after all this frustration, I wonder about my sources.  What do they mean?  What makes them better than theirs?  The science?  They say there sources are science!  Are mine just as biased?  Who really knows the truth?  What really is going on?  Why is it two people can take the same facts and still come out with a different conclusion based on how they interpret it?  With that being the case, how do we know what the truth really is?

Are the horses being removed to be replaced with cattle?  -- I do not think so as it just does not feel right, or make any sense.  Are the horses being removed to control population?  -- Yes, I certainly believe that.  That makes sense.  Based on all my knowledge about how populations grow and what horses and large mammals can do to a landscape not accustomed to grazing, it makes sense that they (the BLM) has to act as "predator" by removing some.  Do the cattle also have to be managed?  Yes - and they are, correct?  Grazing permits control the population of cattle.  Why do cattle outnumber horses?  Is it because of the time the spend on the rangelands?  The amount of forage that is available while they are there eating with horses and native wildlife?

Maybe I should do my thesis study on cow and horse utilization of the rangelands.  Maybe it would answer some of these questions that I have, and put to rest this theory that cattle are taking over horse lands.

Why do people paint the horse as this perfect animal that could not possibly do any damage to the range?  It's all cattle -- it's all the BLMs fault.  Why can't people provide assistance instead, and approach in a helpful way, rather than a "you're doing a horrible job, do it this way."  It is no wonder that the BLM may not listen to some people.  When approached like they are doing everything wrong, of course they will get defensive and not listen to what a person might have to say. 

But when I talked on the phone with the rangeland specialist the other day, he truly wanted to use me to answer some of the questions brought up in comments they received.  That, I believe, is effort on their part to do what the public wants, to make a change, to make the program better.

Why can't "activists" find a way to help the BLM, rather than hinder them?  If they really want to help, they need to volunteer, go to school in rangeland science, wildlife management, something that will make them useful to the horses.  I know there are many advocates out there that do, and the BLM appreciates them, I'm sure.  But these people who cause all the law suits, why can't they step in and provide a helpful hand?

I am very frustrated and confused tonight.  How do we  educate people about horses on public rangelands? They believe the more sensationalized version of the story because it invokes more emotion and grabs their attention.  And that makes it hard to try and convey anything that opposes what they think is right.

And then I again question...who is right?

Can I scream?


  1. You hit the nail right on the head here, Jessie!

    Do we really know what motivates the heads of the BLM or the activists? I don't think we ever will, but we can speculate that there is money behind it on both sides. Not that either is wrong or right in their efforts to create change, but what is the motivation for the change?

    I too have my suspisions and ideology of the issue, but like most, other than hearsay and reading, I'm not very educated in the study of range management. What I do know, at least for Nevada the places I visit don't have much of anything, other than one subspecies of sage or the other.

    Another thing I've come to learn in dealing with SOME "activists"; you might as well hit your head with a hammer then try to win an argument or get a logical point across. It's not going to happen.

    In the 30's Hitler knew about the psychology of some people and he plied that knowledge to turn family against family; children against parents. We've had that same mindset since time began and it's frightening to think that people cannot see the damage that can be done on one level or another. Be it humans or horses, we'll always have the few that will take that stance, right or wrong. We all want to stand for something. It's that need to be recognized as a human being.

    Keep up on the studies and maybe one day, you'll be the one to point us all in the direction everyone can agree on.

  2. Hi there! Your blog showed up as one of my Google Alerts in my email today because as a range management student, I've programmed my alerts to pick up anything related for reading on the side. It's nice to find someone else who takes an ecological perspective on the wild horse problem; I feel like there are too few of us who do. I think your thesis idea is a great one and a badly-needed piece of research, regardless of what's out there, just because we need all of the research we can get. Thanks!

  3. Come to think of it, could I get in touch with you somehow, separately from your blog? I'm at I'm trying to orient my range curriculum more towards the wild horse problem and would love to talk shop and ask you some questions. Thanks!

  4. Well written. It can get confusing out there. There's one side, there's the other, but the truth is usually somewhere in the middle.

    Glad to read you're a Resource Management student and working on a thesis concerning wild horses and their impacts and influence on the ecosystem. Your research can benefit our wild ones. In considering "sides" consider motivation. Most wild horse/burro advocates do not receive financial gain, but work from the shear admiration and desire to preserve our wild ones.

    It's not about the regional blm and it's workers, it's about BLM at the government level and their motivations (it's not just about cattle and livestock) and their elimination of 111 wild horse herds and 19-24 million herd management acres. Correlation? Since year 2000 alone we've lost more than 40% of "your and my" wild horses.

    Thank you for being a 'seeker of the truth' in this important plight of our American mustang. I wish you much success.

    aka Mustang Meg

  5. Great post Jessie, keep digging you will uncover it (truth) out there. You just have to shuffle thru all the tall tales and de-compose and digest everything you find. There is good and bad on all sides. You sound to me like a really smart, logical person. I will be waiting to see what you come up with as you go.

  6. Jessie, great post. I really support your quest and study in this area. It is much needed. How to combine field research as well as what has already been written, and looking at what has happened at the locations pre and post gathers, plus the unique questions you will bring is important. Keep me posted on your journey.

  7. The thing with cows, horse and wildlife in arid and cold areas is that there is only so much forage that grows in any given year. Depending on the amount of rain and temperatures there will be x amount grown during the spring and summer. Once that is eaten, whether in four months by cattle, or year round by horses and wildlife, its pretty much over for the year. I think the challenge is always going to be how to balance the number of animals with growing conditions changing from year to year.

  8. My goodness...yes, you have all the same questions I have...I have no answers...I hope you can find an answer to those 'elusive questions.' At the point of total frustration and confusion, I stop reading anything anybody has to say...because the question comes up: who's right??? FaceBook (which is where a lot of misinformation starts) has it's downfalls...

    I hope you continue to post as you pursue your career...and kudos to you for doing what you want to do~

  9. Jessie, If I were to recommend a person to manage a specie, you with your great attitude would be it. To love an animal but having the ability to keep in context what that animal is in the larger picture of wildlife is a treasure.

    I think you are confronting people who do not have that (your) ability, blind in their belief or love for one animal above all else....including people.