Horses, particularly wild ones, tend to conjure up images of majesty, strength, and unbridled freedom. Unfortunately, this is a distorted depiction of reality that Americans have fabricated with the help of dime store novels and Hollywood films.
First, North America’s wild horses are the feral descendants of animals brought by Europeans in the past few hundred years. Next, those you see today on the open range are primarily rejects, leftovers, and runaways from previously domesticated herds; often found carrying brands, halters, or horseshoes.
In the past few decades, overpopulation has caused serious environmental and economic challenges. Horses pulverize grasslands that are protected by “biotic crusts” which keep desert soils from being washed or blown away. This destruction leads to poor water absorption, reduced fertility, and damage to wildlife habitat. Furthermore, wild horses compete with deer, antelope, elk, and cattle for limited forage and water resources.
Our culture’s skewed perception of wild horses has allowed them to take precedence over all other native grazers and wildlife; animals that actually provide a lasting and renewable resource for society.
On April 25th, 2016 the Elko BLM office confirmed that it would be removing 14 grazing allotments from Elko county producers because of the overpopulation of wild horses.
Tomorrow it could be your favorite hunting area, camp retreat, or hiking spot; or perhaps the mining project where you are employed.
Nevadans took care of wild horse populations fine before 1971 – we can do it again.
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