Naturalist Addresses Wild Horse/Burro Issue

Newsdate: Sun, 6 Mar 2011 - 09:06 am
Location: RENO, Nevada

In An Open Letter Craig Downer, a Noted Naturalist, Politely Asks Obama Horse Board to Reconsider BLM Policy

"As I see it, these “national heritage species” have been quite unfairly reduced upon the public lands to which they are entitled. And they have been further marginalized even within their substantially reduced Herd Management Areas (HMAs – BLM) and Wild Horse/Burro Territories (USFS) though still permitted to remain as token numbers. As a way of spuriously justifying these assaults, officials have subjected them to an intense disinformation campaign aimed at discrediting them – especially as free, naturally living animals.

This negative campaign has been fomented not just by the traditional enemies of the wild equids but by the very government agencies that we expect to equitably uphold all legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. In short, the unanimously passed Public Law 92-195, better known as the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (WFRHBA) has been subverted by the very officials who are sworn to impartially execute the law.

Unfortunately our supposed public servants have buckled under when confronted with the ruthless demands of greedy ranchers, big game hunters often represented by state fish and game departments, water monopolizing and contaminating mining corporations, urban sprawlers and subdividers, and, now more than ever, unbridled alternative energy developers who would do better to place their solar panels and wind turbines on the numerous vacant roof tops and in more urban areas near power grids than in the last remaining natural regions of the public domain.

It is high time for a serious reappraisal of values and priorities. And here the wild burros and horses enter in with a major role to play. To begin, they should be officially recognized as returned natives and as restorers of the North American ecosystem. As post-gastric as opposed to ruminant digesters, their enormous potential for building nutrient-rich and moisture-retaining soils and of broadly dispersing germinative seeds of many native species should be recognized. Also recognized should be their major role in reducing dry flammable vegetation and in preventing those catastrophic fires that are now on the upsurge due to the effects of Global Warming. They fill an empty niche that is complementary to the great majority of species in the North American ecosystems where they evolved, and this includes the equally deeply rooted Pronghorn.

As a wildlife ecologist as well as one concerned for the humane treatment of these animals, I endorse Reserve Design as the rational and caring way to effect the reforms that are now so urgently needed to restore the very heart of the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act. This long-overdue restoration is being demanded by millions of American citizens and by many people worldwide. This reform will properly put the major emphasis of the wild horse and burro program back on wild horses and burros in the wild. And it will put a stop to what is, in effect, their domestication or semi-domestication, their decimation and the decimation of their freedom on their rightful public lands (including through the illegal overfencing of such), and finally the outright elimination of these wonderful presences from their rightful ancestral homes throughout the West."

Thank you.

About the author

As an animal lover since childhood, Flossie was delighted when Mark, the CEO and developer of EquiMed asked her to join his team of contributors.

She enrolled in My Horse University at Michigan State and completed a number of courses in everything related to horse health, nutrition, diseases and conditions, medications, hoof and dental care, barn safety, and first aid.

Staying  up-to-date on the latest developments in horse care and equine health is now a habit, and she enjoys sharing a wealth of information with horse owners everywhere..

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