A thousand horse and none to ride! -
Creation of the BLM
Public Lands are born
Our public lands of today were born out of default. They are lands which were castaways by the stockmen who kept the most productive rangeland and water sources in the West. Greed continued to pervade the West and Native American Reservations were reduced in size to gain control over gold or grasslands. As late as 1929, nearly 100,000 horses were shot on the Crow Reservation to make way for more cattle grazing. (Account by Joseph Medicine Crow.) Thousands of Indian ponies were killed by the cavalry in the mid 1800's.
Saving our Wild Horses and Burros?
There were still a half-billion acres of "leftover" land in roughly half of the 17 western states. The productivity was very low on this land but the biggest concern was the sheep herders on this land. In 1934 the problem was ended with the support of the most influential cattlemen in the West, Representative Edward Taylor, a rancher from Colorado and enemy of the conservationists, pushed through the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. This ended the sheep herders use of the land. The Division of Grazing was formed and placed under the Department of Interior. This Division was controlled by elite stock raisers who maintained a small grazing fee and a weak agency to manage the program.
Public lands continued to deteriorate. Wild horses continued to be removed from public rangelands under the auspices of a federal extermination program. Processing wild horses into chicken food in the 30's reached its peak with nearly 30 million pounds of horse flesh were canned. The unregulated exploitation of the wild horse herds constituted the federal government's policy for nearly thirty years!
In 1939, the Division of Grazing became the Grazing Service which joined with the General Land Office in 1946 to form the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Current situation and the BLM's "Management of the Wild Horses and Burros
Wild horses and burros (wild horses and burros) play a major role in the North American ecosystem: their absence causes a setback in the ecological stability that has evolved in North America over thousands of generations--millions of years.
Why "REMOVALS" (round ups) fail to be a useful long-term tool
BLM has been reducing wild horses and burros to token numbers. By preventing the establishment of larger, more stable herds, the BLM creates its own wild horse crisis, since the species naturally responds to drastic BLM reductions by increasing its reproductive rate. When left alone, wild horses and burros would likely self-regulate their herd sizes...a scientific concept referred to as density dependence.
The government and vested interests state wild horses and burros are "overpopulating" the habitat, all the while paying little attention to the clear, indiscriminate overpopulation of domestic livestock.
Current status of Wild Horses and Burros in the United States
As we near the close of this century, we are facing one of the most critical times in the history of wild horses and burros in our country. America's wild horses and burros are being managed out of existence by the very agency mandated to protect them, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This is not the first time that wild horses and burros (Equids) have faced extinction. Today populations of wild horses and burros are half of what they were in 1974 when populations were nearly exterminated. The alarming facts continue:
303 herd areas were declared in 1971 where wild horses and burros were protected. Today only 186 areas remain where wild horses and burros still roam.
In 1971, herd sizes were large enough to protect animals from inbreeding. Today, 70% of the remaining herd areas have populations less than 100 animals which means the loss of genetic diversity and eventual inbreeding and eventual decline of the populations.
Usual sex ratios in wild equid herds are around 50% female to 50% male. Today, sex ratios are so lopsided that many populations have 70% males which eventually reduces population sizes even further.
Early on, the BLM never gathered wild horses or burros who ranged out of their herd boundaries. Today, if wild horses or burros step out of their boundaries, BLM captures them and removes them permanently from public lands! In the state of Nevada where the majority of wild horses roam, wild horses found outside of their boundaries are treated as stray animals and sold at auction (usually going to meat dealers for human consumption)!
BLM continues to zero out herds without any statutory authority granted to them. Approximately 36,000 adopted wild horses and burros are unaccounted for and are feared illegally slaughtered. These animals were under the protection of the Act and BLM failed to protect them.
We invite you to browse through this website, which is the result of a cooperative effort by many wild horse and burro advocates throughout the United States. Please educate yourself on the facts surrounding this issue, and then do your part to make a difference.