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Wild Mustangs

August 1, 2008

My idea for the blog today was originally to include a forward of an email that I had received about a BLM action affecting a wild mustang herd. Because the email was a bit old, I decided to do some checking to see if there was an update.

After some digging I called the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center and talked with Matthew Dillon. He has a blog linked on that page that is very interesting and has great pictures. Visiting with him, he felt that the most good we as horse people can do for wild horses is to become more educated about them and their issues.

There is a lot of information out about wild horses. Some of it is accurate and some of it not quite so much. The more any of us know about a subject, the better opinions we can form and share. He felt that the Pryor Herd is being well managed at this time with good communications between the BLM people and the herd advocates.

He sent me to the BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Program website and pointed out several places that we could learn about the issue and make comments. Matt said that at least for the Pryor group, they have had a “lot of comments”. What he said suggested that the best help would be for people to become informed and then share well formed comments about the issue. The BLM managers are more likely to listen and take in that type of information. Sounds basic but sometimes when our emotions take over, what comes out is not always very helpful and will fall on deaf ears.
The BLM site has a Fact sheet on Wild Horse and Burro Management Challenges and a feed back form for Public Input. There is even a link to a page about how you can help if you can’t adopt a mustang.

Be sure to check out the links to the different Mustang Challenges including the Extreme Mustang Makeover 2008 (EMM 08) in Fort Worth, Texas on September 18-21, 2008. (I may get to attend that event - I'll keep you posted) This page has links to the pictures of all 100 mustangs in the 2008 challenge along with the trainer’s name and location. There are several from the NW.

Two of the things that Matt said would be good for all of us to become more informed about was the current push to relax some rules about adoptions and some laws about outright buying of mustangs. He was very careful to not give opinions about either one. Just that it would be good for the public to become more informed about those issues.

And more thoughts about wild horses from a friend …….
The effort to remove wild horses from public lands is a repeat cycle. The government has tried for the last 30 plus years to remove wild horse herds as they do not want to manage them as wildlife. The horse is native to North America and although the Spanish did re-introduce horses, there is data supporting the fact that the horse never died out in North America in the North territory. All evidence has carefully been discredited or destroyed through the years to prevent the knowledge of the horse staying a native species. I personally viewed the vet at Palomino Valley, Nevada euthanizing a population of what appeared to be "Bashkir Curly" horses back in the late 70's stating that they had thyroid issues. 

To give an example of numbers, there are less than 40, 000 wild horses in the entire US with population data ranging from as low as 21,000 to a high of 44,000 depending on various estimates. Wyoming has about 110,000 elk, but wildlife biologists consider the elk population at risk. If a species population falls below 100,000, its gene pool is at risk. Because we cannot hunt and kill horses, they are viewed as "feral" non-native species that need to be removed.

Horses can do damage to the environment when they are not properly managed, but little effort has been directed to mange wild horses. Most of the effort has been to remove and capture with no awareness of behavior, leadership, or the social ecology of the herds. 

What people can do--Contact and write your local US senators and representatives, write newspapers and media. Contact the BLM and the Secretary of Interior. Your own representatives and senators will listen more because they are your local leaders and need to know what their constituency thinks.

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