What cattle production has to do with disappearance of wild horses

Wild horses, rounded up and held captive, stand behind a fence at the Bureau of Land Management's Palomino Valley holding facility in Palomino Valley, Nev. Scott Sonner/AP.
PHOTO CREDIT: SCOTT SONNER/AP
Wild horses, rounded up and held captive, stand behind a fence at the Bureau of Land Management’s Palomino Valley holding facility in Palomino Valley, Nev.

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 »

5 thoughts on “What cattle production has to do with disappearance of wild horses”

  1. thank you for cross-posting this article by Kate Good. The BLM caters to cattle ranchers not because their grazing fees are as important to them as their political clout. The Wild Horse Advisory Board has always been essentially cattlemen not those with any knowledge or concern about protecting wild horses. The real revenue coming in from leasing is from fracking on public lands, which used up 97 billion gallons of water last year in drought stricken lands ! The wild horse is being driven to extinction by the BLM really to demonstrate the point that they are really working for corporate interests whose outlook is that Nature exists only to generate $$$ even if it is destroyed in the process. The BLM has betrayed its original charter to protect rather than destroy public land and wildlife for the sake of future generations. Kate Good quite correctly points out that any round up of wild horses – let alone sale to slaughter – contradicts the intention of the 1971 federal law to protect them. The amendments added to this later were never voted on by Congress in open session they were added furtively by men like Conrad Burns without the knowledge or consent of Congress or the American people.

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  2. It’s ludicrous to think that far too many people believe that one horse on thousands of acres of land would die from starvation yet fifty cattle can survive on the same stretch of land. *extreme facepalm* -_-

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    1. Forget that post. I meant: It’s ludicrous that far too many people believe that one horse on thousands of acres of land would die from starvation yet fifty cattle can survive on the same stretch of land. *extreme facepalm* -_-

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  3. I think most of a horse people and other concerned citizens know and have known for a long time that the beef industry is behind this. I had a bumper sticker designed which reads² Save the mustangs, the wolves, and the bison ­ don¹t eat beef². I guess it was some disgruntled rancher who removed it.

    Mary

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  4. Amen! Millions vs. 40,000–the logical case is made. Now if only a shred of rational thought could be introduced into the political process.

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