Cross-posted from One Green Planet
by KATE GOOD
The routine roundup of American wild horses is a practice that has a long and corrupt history. From the time the great West was settled, wild horses have posed a threat to agriculture, after all, large herds of horses take up land and they do like to wander into gardens and nibble on crops left out in the open. But like all species, the wild horse plays a significant role in our collective ecosystem and should not be treated as a pest, although our historic interaction with wild horses speaks differently.
In response to the rapid disappearance of wild horses, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFRHBA) was established in the U.S. in 1971. The WFRHBA designated wild horses and burros as, “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West,” playing a major role in contributing to” to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of American people.”
On these grounds, it was decided that the wild horse was to be protected from “capture, branding, harassment, or death.”
Under these provisions, the very nature of Bureau of Land Management roundups is illegal under this act, yet due to a series of reckless amendments by Congress, roundups leading to the harassment, capture, and death of thousands of horses occur every year.
MILLIONS OF CATTLE VS. 40,605 WILD HORSES
So as you can see from this figure, the ratio of cattle to wild horses is grossly skewed to favor cattle interests. According to American Wild Horse Preservation, private livestock outnumber wild horses fifty to one. It really comes as no surprise that the lack of profitability that a wild horse presents versus a cow that can be sold for meat, dairy, etc., would play a large role in the frequency of wild horse roundups.
Cattle grazers argue that if the wild horse population were not routinely “maintained” by these roundups that they would overgraze fields needed for cattle. It has also been argued that if left to fend for themselves, wild horses would die off from dehydration and starvation as they would need to compete for limited land resources…land resources that are being reserved for paying cattle ranchers, naturally.
To counter that point, the Wild Horse and Burro Alliance has shown that wild horses have “diversified grazing habits” and that even after massive roundups, grazing areas have been left no better for cattle. Illustrating that just maybe it isn’t the wild horses that are the problem here . . . Yet, more than eight times the federal land is designated for private livestock grazing than wild horses, costing tax payers a cool $132 million a year.
WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON HERE? READ FULL REPORT »