EUREKA, NV - JULY 07: A group of wild horses wait in a holding pen after a gathering July 7, 2005 in Eureka, Nevada. The Bureau of Land Management is gathering wild horses in the American West, where an estimated 37,000 wild horses roam free. Many of the horses that are gathered are put up for adoption while others are treated with birth control and released back to the wild. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Wild horses and controversy — Notes from the range

Thanks to our good friend Terry we received an interesting email containing an embedded post.

The controversy surrounding wild horses on public lands and the cruel and often deathly mismanagement by the federal agency Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is not news to us and no doubt not news to you.

We have read numerous writings over the years by those out in the field from experts to interested observers.

What is pretty clear is that the BLM and their cohorts simply do not want wild horses off public lands. They want them dead. Historically this is a decades old problem.

Here’s the opening salvo from the post I refer to:

“Soon we will not have available our historic link to wild horses. Ignorance is dominating the wild horse issue, as if trading slaughter for birth control to extinction is an answer to save them! No! It is simply an overwhelming amount of ignorance, from those who have no clue in the matter of wild horse management nor anything of wild horse virtue and necessity. Our American Icon has so many positive attritbutes, and unless one knows of nature, our environment, and our natural ecological systems, they will never know, nor acknowledge the benefits of wild horses on our public lands. Below are notes and from limited distribution, so perhaps new information to many. . .” — John Cox, The Cascades

The writer continues by pointing out problems that the BLM and the federal government continue to ignore.

There are too many cattle on public lands. Check. Wherever they are, the cattle are destroying the ecosystems. Check. The Humane Society continue to promote its pesticide PZP they say to help control herd numbers when it appears to be destroying them. Check.

We have not heard the following before.

The BLM allow public land ranchers (or “welfare ranchers” — we will come back to that in a minute) to do as they please which he says results as follows:

“Public health hazards are developing, aggressively I might add, even while I am writing this, and beef from public lands grazing is diseased.”

Diseased. Interesting.

The writer goes on to say that he does not know to what degree (as in percentage) but cites the BLM’s inadequate checks and balance system as the reason for it.

Now you may think that public land ranchers — some of whose contracts with the federal government go back generations — do not contribute that much to the beef industry. We do not have the data. But even if we were able to get figures from the BLM could we believe them given the BLM’s history of playing with numbers.

We know it’s huge and it costs the American taxpayer an enormous amount of money — in the billions.

Let’s take a look at who some of these “welfare ranchers” are.

Here’s an excerpt from a Tuesday’s Horse post from 2015:

Years ago Ellen Cathryn Nash wrote an insightful report for our website called Rolex Ranchers and the Living Legends which she distributed as a Press Release in 2005.

Some of the names listed as “Rolex Ranchers” by Nash are:

Ted Turner
Baron Hilton
Mary Hewlett-Jaffey
JR Simplot
Annheiser-Busch
Hunt Oil Company of Dallas

If you will remember, in 2015 Vickery Eckhoff revisited this topic with an in depth look of her own and published “Forbes Billionaires Top US Welfare Ranchers List” on AlterNet.

Take a look some of the people on her monied list of who’s who. It hasn’t changed much in ten years has it?

David and Charles Koch (Koch Industries)
J.R. Simplot Corp.
Bruce McCaw (McCaw Cellular)
Barrick Gold
Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA)
W. Barron Hilton (Hilton Hotels)
Mary Hewlett-Jaffe (Hewlett-Packard)
James Barta (Sav-Rx.com)
T. Wright Dickinson
Stan Kroenke (Kroenke Group) & Ann Walton Kroenke (Walmart)
Family of Robert Earl Holding (Sinclair Oil and Hotels)
Ted Turner

Southern Nevada Water Authority is on this list? That raises some interesting questions doesn’t it?

At any rate, that is a helluva a lot of cattle producing a helluva lot of beef destroying a helluva lot of public land.

Wild horses are free roaming by nature. Cattle on the other hand have to be moved. Cattle will graze right down to the dirt. You can imagine how destructive that alone is. Never mind the dung and the enormous amounts of water cattle use.

Eckhoff sums up her report with this statement:

“The .01 percenters are the nation’s biggest welfare ranchers, according to numerous environmental and policy groups; and it’s time they brought some attention to themselves and the federal grazing program they’re exploiting to the tune of an annual estimated one billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies while causing long-term damage to one of the public’s most treasured assets.”

Nash states in her report:

“In reality, the wild horses and burros are not the problem, rather it is the privately owned livestock grazing on public lands subsidized by American taxpayers at great expense. It is important to note that cattle are ‘static’ animals in that they do not move much and they destroy the ground. It takes ten years to reclaim land destroyed by cattle, and longer in arid areas such as Nevada.”

Now back to the writer we started with.

Another point he makes in his eyebrow raising post is one that could possibly explain some of the policies by some wild horse and burro advocates — so called — that have long puzzled us. The writer says:

“We also discover, through factual research and credible sources, several non-profits today are currently, or have done, [are] receiving money from BoLM grants or payroll money as well, applications for grants and even employment from the BoLM – we find this directly a conflict of interest, and a violation of their non-profit status . . .”

We may never get all or even many of the facts concerning most of the issues impacting America’s wild horses and burros.

However one thing is crystal clear. They are a far cry from being protected.

The history of America’s wild horses and burros on U.S. public lands is riddled with cruelty, deception, corruption and death.


CITED POSTS

Wild Horses and Controversy: Notes from the Cascade Mountain Range; Photojournalist — Journalist; Sept. 22, 2016.

Forbes Billionaires Top US Welfare Ranchers List, 10% of BLM Land Lease Subsidy Recipients are Billionaires and Control 65% of all BLM Lands; Vickery Eckhoff; Alternet; Mar. 24, 2015.

Rolex Ranchers and the Living Legends, 10% of BLM Land Lease Subsidy Recipients are Billionaires and Control 65% of all BLM Lands; Ellen Cathryn Nash; Tuesday’s Horse; Mar. 25, 2005.

RELATED READING

Pesticide PZP Truth; Photojournalist — Journalist; Sept. 13, 2016.

FEATURED IMAGE

Eureka, Nevada – A group of wild horses wait in a holding pen after a gathering July 7, 2005 in Eureka, Nevada. The Bureau of Land Management is gathering wild horses in the American West, where an estimated 37,000 wild horses roam free. Many of the horses that are gathered are put up for adoption while others are treated with birth control and released back to the wild. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

3 thoughts on “Wild horses and controversy — Notes from the range”

  1. John Cox writes thoughtful, educated & researched articles. And always gives footnotes as to where the material came from. Boy, what a far cry from the agency that supposedly is “managing” our wild horses & burros – and we are supposed to believe their “guesstimates”!

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