Proper Management and What You Can Do About It
I was recently asked if mustangs are dying too young from disease or starvation on the range….
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No. Rarely do I see concern, especially on this HMA. As far as overgrazing, I have seen the horses favor an area and appear to overgraze that spot, but an incredible moment happens (how they communicate this, I am still trying to find out) when somehow the bands come together into a giant herd and the whole herd (of many bands) moves itself to other grazing areas. And on it goes.
When reviewing the herd areas of the ten western states, through countless photographers of mustang conditions in all seasons, also no- No cause of concern typically and overall. But also not surprising are seasonal 'trying times' of the year/seasons for all wild horses across the west- harsher times for survival- but harsh seasons which they have endured since horses first appeared in north American- Such times like the heat of summer drought, as well as the biting frigid harsh winters- however the intensity of these seasons are no different than they have been across the ages, and I shake my head when I read the drama created surrounding the ranges and our horses and justification attempts at mismanagement. Many of us may have come across either innocent and well-meaning ignorance or self-serving propaganda- for whatever reason. But I'm not interested in them and their motives. I'm only interested in finding ways to best manage these horses (and burros) as naturally as possible on limited herd areas/resources, in this displaced multi-use government model.
Overall, the mustangs manage themselves very well, fertility levels naturally do wax and wane with availability of resources, as well as predation in a specific area. However, I'm a realist, and I do know that of the 179 herd management areas left across our ten western states, that each herd area has only X-amount of acres set aside for the horses to roam. And with only X-amount of acres.... as unpopular as this may initially sound- management unfortunately is necessary, BUT not the old school way, that system is broken and no longer working. It doesn't work because of the multiple levels of cruelty; or for the natural order of wild horses- band and herd structures/dynamics, which have intricately changed and evolved where reigning stallions have worked so hard to achieve and defend; nor does it work for taxpayer pocket books. Something's got to give.
So... The best way, in my opinion, is through 'on the range management' rather than capture and stockpile horses in Fed holding (last count 5 months ago via BLM 50,717, costing taxpayers $450 a head annually). 'On the range management'- the best tool.. least invasive, least dangerous, least costly, but most effective is fertility control, PZP. PZP-22 (Dr. Jay F. Kirkpatrick and colleagues) has been researched for over 20 years w/minimal negative effects, especially considering all the other alternatives and management tools on the table. A government agency would have to go in there every 2-3 years and inject a percentage of mares. I stress reversible (temporary), because that is the best for genetic diversity- and ultimately viability to assure our wild herds across the west will continue to thrive... managed as naturally as is possible while keeping populations in check, but assuring long range that all genetics are represented at one time or another on a given range- maintaining those important bands as nature decides, not BillyBobs with other interests in DC, intent on managing them as livestock, ‘selecting’ for the wild ones, rather than what nature herself decides best for survival, and stockpiling the rest.
Proper management starts from the top, but our leaders need to understand how to best keep our herds healthy, and it’s our job to teach them the art of proper range management- public lands set aside to be “primarily” managed for wild horses and burros first- there are hundreds of thousands of other public lands best utilized in the “multi-use” model. And it’s their job to respect and respond to the will of the people. Time to exercise that will.
To be their voice…
Contact your Senators and Representatives calling the switchboard at 202-224-3121
•The Honorable [name]
House Office Building
Washington DC 20515
Contact your Senators:
•The Honorable [name]
Washington DC 20510
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC, 20500
Please include e-mail address for responses
Secretary Sally Jewell
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
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