Controversial roundup of wild horses underway

BLM roundup of wild horses in Nevada is heated-

Los Angeles Times on the Nevada “roundup

My view on wild or “feral” horses and burros is that they are non-natives species that, like cattle, damage the range and harm native wildlife. The BLM’s preoccupation with them, rather than making sure the land barons properly manage their cattle on public lands, is excessive.

Although I’d like to see them kept in relatively low numbers, I generally stop and watch them. They do look good.

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Related story. BLM to put over 800 wild horses on Spanish Q Ranch near Ennis, Montana. By Daniel Person. Bozeman Chronicle.

Alone on the Range

Just one wild horse left on Flathead Lake’s Wild Horse Island, but there is no shortage of horses that could repopulate the island-

The Missoula Independent did a feature on the contentious issue of the management of the wild (or feral) horses of the West.

Alone on the Range. Only one wild horse remains on Flathead Lake’s Wild Horse Island. As officials look to repopulate the park, the government wrestles with the larger challenge of managing these icons of the West. By Erika Fredrickson.

Horse Debate Misses the Point.

Wild Horses in Nevada © Ken Cole

Wild Horses in Nevada © Ken Cole

Ted Williams, a writer for Fly Rod and Reel Magazine and Audubon has written a piece attacking wild horse advocates and politicians who supported H.R. 1018, the Restore Our American Mustangs Act.

I think it misses the point. I think that an opportunity to do something about livestock damage was missed and the bill will ultimately result in great ecological damage. For whatever reason language to proportionately reduce livestock grazing in horse areas was not included in the bill that passed the House but has no counterpart in the Senate.

I think that everyone knows that high use by non-native horses, invasive livestock, and even native ungulates such as elk is damaging ecologically. That is not my debate with the author. I think that the debate rests in proportionality. Livestock damage is several orders of magnitude higher than horse damage even though there needs to be serious reductions in both populations.

Water trough and spring heavily used by horses.  There are many more springs abused like this not used by horses. © Ken Cole

Water trough and spring heavily used by horses. There are far more springs abused like this not used by horses. © Ken Cole

In an exchange between Williams and myself he states this: “Unlike horses, cows can be managed, moved, brought in in the winter, and they’re a business”. In essence he seems to justifying the damage they cause for these reasons but I don’t see that they are being managed in such a way to benefit anything other than the pocket book of the rancher.

I go on to respond “we need to be talking about proportion since cattle cause 1000 more times damage to the lands, water, wildlife, vegetation and fisheries. By all rights you should be writing about 1000 times more articles about that damage. I don’t think this issue should be ignored but it certainly needs to be put into proportion.”

One of 239 Ecological Illiterates in the U.S. House
Ted Williams for Fly Rod and Reel.

Wild horses thought to create beautiful fields of wildflowers in Pryor Mountains

Unfortunately, the flowers may be the result of overgrazing by the horses-

Wild Horses © Ken Cole

Wild Horses © Ken Cole

This article and its premise may spark a lot of controversy.

Wild horse range pressured by overgrazing. By Brett French. Billings Gazette.

I should add that I have never been to the Pryor Mountains of Montana, which are east of Cody and near the Wyoming border.