Opinion

Cashing-In On Wild Horses At The Expense Of American Taxpayers

Wild horses exemplify the vigor that comes from surviving the wilds of American wilderness. Hooves of stone, speed that eludes the fastest predators (mountain lions ~50-mph!) Photo: William E. Simpson II

Far too many so-called wild horse advocates and nonprofits are profiting off the plight of our relatively few remaining wild horses in America.

We need to keep in mind that there were 2-3-million free roaming wild horses on the American landscape in the early 1900’s.

It’s bad enough that the Bureau of Land Management is heading-up the sterilization of wild horses, as well as the brutal roundups and are arguably helping to send hundreds of wild horses into the slaughter pipeline annually.

Making matters even worse for the relatively few remaining genetically intact native species American wild horses is the simple fact that too many advocates and nonprofits, such as American Wild Horse Campaign, are promoting and using chemical sterilization (GonaCon & PZP) on American wild horses, calling it ‘Fertility Control’, and are getting paid by the BLM to help carry-out their sinister plan to exterminate American wild horses from all Herd Areas. 

What Are The Facts?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand what’s driving the longstanding conflict between wild horses and public land use by livestock and other stakeholders, including ranchers and mining concessions who claim rights on public lands. 

It’s primarily a battle about the competition for grazing rights between ‘non-commercial herbivores’ (wild horses) and commercial livestock (cattle and sheep) and game animals for finite grazing and water resources that must be managed under the Federal Land Management and Protection Act (FLPMA). 

Interestingly, even game animals (elk and deer) are now seen as competition for livestock grazing, as we learn in this published news release:

Selling the public and legislators an expensive ‘Fake Solution’ called ‘Fertility Control’

By definition, a solution that doesn’t solve a simple problem is a ‘fake’ or false solution.

‘Fertility Control’ (sterilizing wild horses using chemicals called ‘PZP’ and GonaCon) is a useless measure as far as ending competition for finite grazing and water resources on public lands, and has not stopped the deadly, costly roundups. 

One example of many I could make is that of the use of PZP in Utah on the Onaqui Wild Horses in the Sand Wash Basin. 

Here is a quote taken directly from the webpage of Wild Horses of America Foundation
“Since 2015 we have been treating mares of the Onaqui Mountain Herd with PZP.”

FACT:  In 2021, seven-years later, the Bureau of Land Management rounded-up 435 Onaqui Wild Horses. 
FACT:  The barbaric and genetically ill-advised use of the chemical sterilants PZP & GonaCon (aka: Fertility Control) did not stop the roundups in the Onaqui Herd.
Fertility Control is a Fake Solution
WHY?   
Because a sterilized wild horse requires just as much forage and water as an intact wild horse, and the competition for forage and water between wild horses and livestock is not modified by the chemical sterilization of wild horses.

Examining flawed band-aids being applied to failed management:

1) Loss of Freedom:  

Roundups and subsequent warehousing of captured wild horses into off-range feed lots is argued as one manner of managing wild horse populations in areas devoid of apex predators. These methods are very costly (>$150-M/year) for taxpayers (lots of personnel, equipment, aircraft, feeding horses hay, etc), and they are brutal, inhumane and ecologically inappropriate given that such actions do not correct the core problem.

“Freedom is the right of all sentient beings” ~ Optimus Prime

Roundups also result in ecological damage to landscapes due to stampedes, where dozens of wild horses running for their very lives from helicopters trample the landscape, injuring and killing some flora and fauna.

During helicopter roundups, wild horses are run for miles and beyond their natural endurance, adversely impacting the health of horses. Pregnant mares spontaneously abort foals on-the-run, and new foals run their soft new hooves off and go lame and fall behind, ending up being eaten alive by coyotes; and,

2) So called ‘contraception’ or ‘fertility control’ (costing tens of $-millions annually) are nice sounding terms for what is actually ‘chemical sterilization’ of mares using chemicals commonly known as ‘PZP’ and ‘GonaCon’, along with the castration of stallions. PZP and Gonacon are known to adversely impact the social structure and hierarchy of the harem, where lead mares that sterilized can lose their status in the band,

One program known as ‘Veterans For Mustangs’ and the bill by the same name (H.R.7631 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) proposes to have military veterans using deadly high-powered gas-operated rifles shoot heavy darts/projectiles containing chemical sterilization compounds into wild horses, making a complete mockery of the intent of the 1971 Act, by stalking and shooting wild horses (aka: ‘harassment’), making American wild horses into a carnival shooting gallery.

The wild horse nonprofit known as American Wild Horse Campaign also engages in this ludicrous and dangerous activity. 

Studies show horses shot in this manner can suffer from, bleeding, hematoma, broken bones, and death.

MORE ON ‘PZP’ and ‘GonaCon’: https://www.einpresswire.com/article/553542481/decimation-of-wild-horses-continues-path-forward-plan-supported-by-non-profit-activist-organization-return-to-freedom

“Fertility control in free‐roaming wildlife populations has been associated with changes in immigration (Ramsey 2005; Merrill, Cooch & Curtis 2006), decreased group fidelity (Nuñez et al. 2009; Madosky et al. 2010), increased survival (Caughley, Pech & Grice 1992; Kirkpatrick & Turner 2007; Williams et al. 2007), altered reproductive behavior (Nuñez, Adelman & Rubenstein 2010; Ransom, Cade & Hobbs 2010) and shifted phenology (Ransom, Hobbs & Bruemmer 2013)” ~ Ecological feedbacks can reduce population‐level efficacy of wildlife fertility control.The use of chemical sterilants to control wild horse populations (wildlife) disintermediates evolutionary Natural Selection and leads to genetic erosion and social disruptions in wild horses (equids). Furthermore, using chemicals (PZP & GonaCon) is ‘Selective Breeding’ and leads to genetic decline.

MORE: https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/550887360/wild-horses-wild-horse-management-non-profit-organizations-wrong-chemical-use-on-wildlife-populations-flawed

In addition to the social breakdown of family bands, genetic erosion and selective breeding that are all part of using PZP on free-roaming native species American wild horses, we also find evidence of the following:

“Even on a large animal struck correctly, the dart (contraceptive PZP and GonaCon darts) can cause hemorrhage and hematoma. Misplaced shots can break bones or even kill the animal” (Thomas and Marburger 1964). Report–Muzzle report can cause problems in darting either captive or free-ranging animals. In captive situations, the noise can be more disturbing to animals than getting struck with a dart. Disturbed animals are then more difficult to approach, or the entire group of animals may run away” ~ Page 32; Overview of Delivery Systems for the Administration of Contraceptive to Wildlife”, by Terry J. Kreeger

3) Farming-out wild horses at taxpayer expense as so-called adoptable or trainable horses, also costs American taxpayers, since the BLM pays $1,000 for each horse adopted.

As most wild horse advocates know, the 1971 act was passed to ostensibly protect wild horses. yet few parts of 1971 Act are being observed and followed by the Bureau of Land Management (‘BLM’) today.

Even the core intentions of the 1971 Act that are cited in its preamble are disrespected and ignored in the management of wild horses today by the very agency charged with protecting wild horses, the BLM, as well as some nonprofits such as American Wild Horse Campaign. This is clearly the result of political pressures brought to bear on law and policy makers by the trillion-dollar corporations who provide campaign donations to politicians on both-sides of the political aisle.

The key sentence in the preamble to the 1971 Act states:

“It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding harassment, or death…”

The reality of life for wild horses in American today under the 1971 Act is quite different than what any outsider looking-in would believe having read the 1971 Act.

The reality today, over fifty years since the passing of the 1971 Act, is that the BLM does everything to wild horses that was originally prohibited under the 1971 Act.

The BLM regularly and aggressively; captures, brands and separates family members from each other, where stallions, mares and juveniles are sent into separate holding corrals even as family members scream for each other. This causes tremendous emotional hardship for wild horse families and results in PTSD in these horses. After segregating horses by sex and age, they are genetically molested where stallions are castrated and mares are chemically sterilized. This inhumanity transcends the prohibited ‘harassment’ cited in the 1971 Act.

It’s a horrifically brutal and inhumane scene that is repeated annually dozens of times each year in America over the past 40-years.

The protests of wild horse advocates and wild horse nonprofits, in court and in the media, have yielded no change in the behavior of the BLM.

The Good News (share, while there are genetically intact wild horses left):

There is a humane, cost-effective nature-based solution for this grazing conflict called ‘Wild Horse Fire Brigade‘ (the ‘Plan’).

These national media outlets have covered the Plan, which would keep wild horses wild and free, and save taxpayers hundreds of $-millions annually by relocating wild horses into wilderness areas beyond grazing conflictsinto wildfire fuels management roles.

Global News: https://globalnews.ca/video/9879171/can-a-herd-of-goats-help-firefighters-fight-forest-wildfires

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jul/27/are-americas-wild-horses-the-answer-to-wildfires-a-photo-essay-aoe

NPR national Sciencehttps://www.npr.org/2022/10/30/1131042723/preventing-wildfire-with-the-wild-horse-fire-brigade

AM BEST TV (Insurance Industry): https://www.ambest.com/video/video.aspx?s=1&rc=wildhorses323

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