URGENT NEED FOR RESERVE DESIGN & REWILDING TO RESTORE AMERICA’S WILD HORSES & BURROS
ACTION ALERT WITH VIDEO: URGENT NEED FOR RESERVE DESIGN & REWILDING TO RESTORE AMERICA’S ENDANGERED WILD HORSE & BURRO HERDS ON BLM & US FOREST SERVICE LANDS ALONG WITH THE TRUE INTENT OF THE WILD FREE-ROAMING HORSES & BURROS ACT (WFHBA) (Posted to website May 11, 2022)
By Craig C. Downer, Wildlife Ecologist, Wild Horse and Burro Fund / Andean Tapir Fund, P.O. Box 456,
Minden, Nevada 89423. email@example.com
Photo by Craig C Downer, June, 2015, of young Buckskin Wild Stallion & his faithful Wild Mare from Pine Nut Mountain Herd Management Area, western Nevada.
Carson City, Nevada, Wild Horse Rally video in front of Nevada State Legislature on Sat. April 23, 2022. Video by Monica Martinez Ross, wild horse advocate, roundup & herd monitor & photographer. CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO OF CARSON CITY WILD HORSE FREEDOM RALLY 4-23-2022
May 11, 2022
Diagnosis of Critical Current Imperilment of America’s Last Remaining Wild Horses and Burros
Following the widespread Wild Horse Freedom Rallies of Saturday April 23rd at 34 state capitols and the rally and lobbying effort in Washington DC from April 26 to 30, Americans need to acknowledge the urgent need to restore our nation’s beleaguered wild horses and burros together with their appropriate – and legal – habitats! Their herds need to be restored to genetically viable levels in corresponding habitats that will provide each herd with the year-round survival necessities that are requisite for long-term genetic viability. These include food, water, mineral sites, shelter, predator/human enemy-safe sites, and altitudinal gradients to accommodate their migrations between hot and cold seasons, among other essential survival requirements. The habitats must be free of extreme fencing and cross-fencing for livestock. These fences interfere with their “free-roaming lifestyle” guaranteed by the WFHBA. We must stand up and insist that current subversive policies that are in violation of the act’s true intent be rescinded and its true spirit be recognized, honored and fully implemented.
This act’s true greatness lies in its willingness on the part of us people to share the land and freedom with two wonderful, related species: the highly evolved Horse and its evolutionary cousin the Burro. These species have done so much for us humans, yet their truer and more beneficial role upon our shared home: Earth is realized in the natural, free and biodiverse life communities where they truly belong, rather than in frustrating confinement behind a fence. But being fenced in and overly confined has become increasingly the fate of the ca. 400 original herds and their legal habitats on Bureau of Land Management-USDI and U.S. Forest Service-USDA lands. Here they occurred as free-roaming, unbranded and unclaimed animals in 1971, giving them legal right to live as the principal resource recipients. And this stipulation refers to their occupied, year-round habitats in 1971.
Justification for Restoring Viable Populations of Wild Horse and Burros as Ecosystem Saviors
Restoring the true intent of the WFHBA is a worthy goal whose time has come today. And we should all get behind this, no matter our race, color or creed … because restoring America’s wild horses and burros throughout the West, as elsewhere, will prove life-saving for the ecosystem – the life community that sustains us all when we humans too, as a species, come to fit into our own proper, mutually beneficial place. The time has come to relinquish forcing an exaggerated presence that quickly becomes a parasite upon the very life community on which we depend!
The “wild” naturally living horses and burros are really restorers of order and harmony in so many places, not only in the West but around the world. This great fact has been proven by a team of objective scientists who examined this matter for over a decade (see Naundrup, P.J. & J.C. Svenning. 2015. A Geographical Assessment of the Global Scope for Rewilding with Wild-Living Horses (Equus ferus). Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4503665/ ). CLICK HERE TO VIEW IMPORTANT STUDY RE: GLOBAL REWILDING OF WILD-LIVING HORSES Equids complement the cloven-hoofed, ruminant-digesting herbivores because of their – the equids – post-gastric, caecal-fermentative digestive system, which is superior at dispersing intact and germinable seeds of a much greater variety and at building humus-rich, nutrient- and water- retaining soils. Think about this, for these are really major contributions that enhance the life community and allow it to support a greater diversity of plant and, consequently, animal species. And the enrichment of soils results in greater water retention by them and the elevation of water tables/subsurface aquifers. Furthermore, as I and other ecologists have proven: the horses and burros are superior Carbon Sequesters via their less digested droppings, which are capable of locking away Carbon in soils rather than having it go up into the air where, in the form of various gasses, it absorbs the rays of the sun and heats up our Earth like an oven, a process a.k.a. the Greenhouse Effect. This is a situation of extreme urgency! In many other ways, the wild horses and burros, as others in the Order Perissodactyla, greatly help combat Global Warming. (See https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2021/07/17/horses-carbon-sequesters/ which gives additional references. CLICK HERE TO VIEW IMPORTANT STUDY RE: SUPERIOR CARBON SEQUESTRATION BY WILD-LIVING HORSES
It was encouraging to see how many people showed up at the rallies at the 34 state capitols and in Washington, DC – in the thousands! Americans from all walks of life, including many veterans identified with the plight of the wild horses, as well as people from around the world stood and spoke up to demand a Halt to the cruel and outrageous roundups that continue to nearly eliminate America’s last wild horses and burros. These are actually underpopulated herds that have been marginalized on the public lands and even within their legally designated Herd/Herd Management Areas on BLM and Territories on US Forest Service lands. On these, they are supposed to be the principal presences, as according to Section 2 c the WFHBA, these areas are to be “principally devoted” to their – the wild horses and burros – welfare and benefit, not that of the public land cattle and sheep ranchers, who have a cancellable privilege, not a legal right to graze their livestock. Other public land exploiters including mining and energy companies, off-highway vehicles and the hunting establishment also do enormous damage. For example, both the hunting and ranching establishment go after natural predators, often to the point of elimination. Mountain lions, coyotes, wolves, bears and even, hawks, eagles and condors often face severe and cruel persecution by a variety of means. Many of these predate upon the sick, declining, advanced aging or otherwise unfit among the mustang and burro and other wildlife populations. These overbearing interests need to be checked. And it is our moral duty to stand up for the fair treatment of the wild horses, burros and other wildlife species and their habitats in order to achieve long-term-viable population levels that fill their respective ecological niches – play their important roles.
The Bible tells us to be the “keepers of our fellow brothers and sisters” and, in this connection, we must stand up for what we clearly see as right, just and fair for the wild horses, wild burros and all the Great Rest of Life! And we must not be manipulated into compromising their true integrity including that of their habitats. We must not betray the true spirit and intent of the WFHBA – not make a mockery of this progressive and life-saving, unanimously passed Act!
Sterilization Semi-Sterilization of Wild Horses/Burros Would Harm Them & Jeopardize Their Future
As a biologist who has examined this issue in some depth, I stand in opposition to the use of chemical sterilants, whether temporary or permanent, such as GonaCon and PZP, as well as the invasive and cruel insertion of IUD devices and the extremely cruel ovariectomies and castrations, which often result in the excruciating and prolonged deaths of the mares and jennies, stallions and jacks. There’s a much better way than these very harmful, disrespectful and invasive interferences with the horses’ and burros’ natural integrity, both as individuals and as societies, as well as, of course, with their fitting and beneficial roles within their respective ecosystems. (For more about PZP and its serious, though perhaps unintended, consequences, see https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2020/03/24/pzp-wild-horses-do-not-belong-together/.) CLICK HERE TO VIEW IMPORTANT FACTS RE: WHY PZP & WILD-LIVING HORSES DO NOT BELONG TOGETHER
Reserve Design is the Right Path Forward for Saving & Restoring Truly Viable Herds & Their Habitats
There’s a better way forward that will achieve the true intent of the noble WFHBA, a way that is not the much hyped “quick drug fix” that is no true solution … or the common “cut-it-out fix” that disfigures and handicaps the horses and burros. The more perfect solution of which I speak is known among nature conservationists as Reserve Design. I presented this in my peer-reviewed article (see https://www.researchgate.net/publications/274006946_The_Horse_and_Burro_as_Positively_Contributing_Returned_Natives_in_North_America.)
This includes a point-by-point description of how Reserve Design can practically work and what steps must be taken to make it work. It also includes a map of recommended areas for initiating this nature-respectful approach throughout the West. I also prepared a Go Fund Me petition for support of my non-profit’s Reserve Design project that honors the true spirit and aims to restore the true intent of the WFHBA (https://www.gofundme.com/mstngreservedesign/). In Chapter IV of my book The Wild Horse Conspiracy, I also present Reserve Design in major detail (see https://www.amazon.com/dp/1461068983/ for either an eBook or a hardcopy, or contact me). CLICK HERE TO READ THIS IMPORTANT FACTUAL ARTICLE PROVING WHY AMERICA’S WILD HORSES & BURROS BELONG HERE & DO A WORLD OF GOOD! AND CLICK HERE FOR AUTHOR’S GO FUND ME FOR RESERVE DESIGN FOR AMERICA’S PRECIOUS WILD HORSES & BURROS AND
Here are some of the principal components of the sound and non-invasive, horse- and nature-respectful Reserve Design strategy for restoring the wild horse and burro herds and their respective habitats to long-term-viable population levels and ecological conditions:
1. Carefully study the ecosystem in question, including both natural and human components, and determine where Reserve Design can best work and how it can best be implemented.
2. Incorporate natural barriers such as high mountains, deep canyons or raging rivers wherever possible.
3. Where deemed necessary, construct semipermeable, artificial barriers, such as long-&-pole fences to keep the wild equids from built up or farmed areas, etc.
4. Establish buffer zones around the wild equid reserve with the cooperation of local people.
5. Wherever possible restore natural predators of wild horses/burros such as pumas, wolves and bears, and all the complex of other species that make up a vital and well-functioning ecosystem.
6. Allow the horses and burros to fill their respective ecological niches and to naturally self-stabilize within their circumscribed but complete and long-term-viable habitats. This is crucially important! They are what ecologists call “climax” species capable of self-limitation in balance with their habitat.
7. Develop programs to educate the public about the positive aspects of wild horses and wild burros, such as their ability to restore degraded ecosystems, build healthy soils, disperse a wide variety of intact seeds of diverse and including many native plant species, and their ability to help other animals by opening up water/food sources during winter and summer extremes, etc. – points too often ignored!
8. Develop win-win relationships between wild horse/burro herds and local human communities by providing pay in exchange for monitoring and protecting these herds as well as for the wild equids’ access to private and other government agency resources under Sections 4 and 6 of the WFHBA. Also, promote and allow moderate ecotourism enterprises to flourish. These would guide people from all over the world to respectfully observe these wonderful creatures, along with their other interrelated companion species, including plants, animals, fungi, etc. This would be done in a herd-rotational manner so as not to overly disturb any given herd or its habitat.
9. Implement voluntary buy-outs of public lands ranchers so as to free the wild horses’ and burros’ legal areas from monopolization by livestock, as is currently the case.
10. If necessary, mandate fair-market buy-outs in order to assure the long-term viability of wild horse and burro herds and their habitats. Employ 4710.5 and 4710.6 for the curtailment or cancellation of livestock grazing privileges on public lands in order to ensure thriving, healthy herds of wild horses and burros in their legal areas.
11. Under the auspices of Section 10 of the WFHBA, set up special study herds and Herd/Herd- Management Areas (BLM) and Territories (US Forest Service) for wild horses and wild burros throughout the West. One wild horse herd and habitat that particularly deserves to be declared such occurs in the Mogollon Rim area of east-central Arizona in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, an area where I have conducted a detailed herd and habitat assessment in 2021 involving over 40 ecologist transects.
12. Foment field biology classes that would observe and investigate wild horses and burros in a respectful and non-invasive way. These would be spread out over many areas where wild horses and burros live so as not to overly impact any particular herd, just as the above-mentioned eco-tours.
Let’s Introduce & Pass the “Restore Our American Mustangs & Burros Act” – ROAM-RD!
Finally, let’s call upon all of our Senators and Representatives to formulate, introduce and pass the “Restore Our American Mustangs and Burros Reserve Design Act” (ROAM-RD Act for short) and do this right away! This would release the stranglehold public lands ranchers have on our public lands, as well as the stranglehold of other exploitive interests, on the legal wild horse/burro areas. And it would help similar nature reserves, as, for example, for rare and endangered species and ecosystems. We must convey the urgent message that upon these Earth-healing life communities in so many ways depends the very future of Life on Earth!
ROAM-RD would be the right way to treat our wild horses and burros, because it would respect their true nature as beings living in freedom as well as the true nature of the many natural ecosystems in which they belong as keystone species. ROAM-RD would achieve naturally self-stabilizing populations that would harmoniously adapt to the particular ecosystems they inhabit, fill their ecological niches/roles — outgrowths of their multi-million-year ancestry especially in North America — and realize genetically long-term-viable populations in the thousands – not the outrageously low, so-called Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs) that our errant public servants have assigned to them on legal BLM and USFS habitats. (See Duncan, Patrick. 1992. Zebras, Asses, and Horses: An Action Plan for the Conservation of Wild Equids. IUCN Species Survival Commission, Equid Specialist Group. Gland, Switzerland: International Union for Conservation of Nature. Formulated by the world’s top equine scientists, this plan recommends 2,500 fit and reproductively intact individuals for a viable population living in the wild.)
We must call the House of Representatives Natural Resource Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee to voice our concerns and promote our well-founded solutions. We much call our individual Senators and Representatives and their staffs. We must insist on a major and dignified reform of our nation’s wild horse and burro program through the just restoration of wild horse and wild burro herds and their habitats throughout America and at truly long-term-viable population levels and commensurate habitats!
These highly evolved animals have done so much for us — enabled us to enjoy extreme advantages that we as a species have, unfortunately, terribly abused in relation to the Great Rest of Life. So now it is high time we do something truly good for them … like allowing them a place to be free, a place where they can realize their true and beneficial place in those ecosystems where they most truly belong and wherein they can continue their wonder-unfolding, age-old trajectory into the looming future?! –We can do this! We can learn to share the land and freedom with them … and all indispensably interrelated species who share this lovely Planet Earth as home … and we shall be much better off because of this!
HERE ARE THE CONTACTS to communicate to now that the US Congress is in session (May-June, 2022):
House Committee on Natural Resources: https://naturalresources.house.gov CLICK HERE FOR CONTACTING MEMBERS OF HOUSE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES
House of Representatives Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Natural Resources: https://appropriations.house.gov/subcommittees. CLICK HERE FOR CONTACTING MEMBERS OF HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES Select Natural Resources and support the ROAM-RD Act bill that would put a halt to currently planned wild horse and burro roundups and institute a major reduction in livestock grazing permits in the legal habitats of the wild horses and burros both on BLM-USDI and USFS-USDA lands.
Call the House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies at (202) 225-5834. The Chair of this is Chellie Pingree, 2007 Rayburn House Office Building.
Another good one to contact is the Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee, since our nation’s wild horse and burro program is in definite need of a major oversight investigation since it is way out of compliance with the true purpose of the WFHBA. A third subcommittee to consider contacting is Water, Oceans, and Wildlife.
Also contact the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies. This would be where the bill would go once approved by the House. The link here is: https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/subcommittees/interior-environment-and-related… https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/subcommittees/interior-environment-and-related-agencies CLICK HERE
Update: Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV, District 1) recently introduced a bill to amend the WFHBA. This is H.R. 6635 – Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act of 2022. It has been referred to the House Committee on National Resources. While this bill is on the right track in mandating the curtailment of the violent helicopter roundups, it needs to incorporate Reserve Design and the restoration of the wild horse and wild burro herds and their legal habitats at long-term-viable levels, not just go along with the currently planned extreme population reductions but just have them be done by wranglers on horseback and then have the herds subject to extreme fertility control, as this is what this short bill seems to be proposing. –We need a more genuine reform of America’s whole wild horse and burro program! Continuing the present policies of extreme herd reduction, livestock/mining/energy/OHV/big game hunting monopolization of the wild horses and burros legal habitats, etc., and the extreme and blanketing fertility manipulation would in effect take the “wild” out of “wild horses/burros”! It would undermine their natural fitness and disrupt the harmonious function of their social groups upon which future generations depend. Both of individual fitness and well-functioning social groups are necessary for their survival in the world of nature, both in the short- and long-term. And we must insist that Reserve Design and Rewilding be incorporated into any amendment to the WFHBA and that reductions of livestock grazing permits within the legal wild horse and burro habitats on BLM/USFS lands also be necessary requirements for the realization of true reform concomitant with the restoration of viable herds and their commensurate habitats. ROAM-RD is urgently needed today!
To give input for ROAM-RD and as concerns H.R. 6635, click on “Contact Your Member” that is in blue on the right side of this bill’s website, which is: https://www.congress.gov/117/bills/hr6635/BILLS-117hr6635/ CLICK HERE TO GIVE INPUT FOR ROAM-RD & RE: HR 6635
H.R. 6635 can be tracked at https://www.govtrack.us.congress/billis/117/hr6635 CLICK HERE TO TRACK HR 6635
On the U.S. Senate side, it would be valuable to contact the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and its Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining. The link here is: https://www.energy.senate.gov/sub-public-lands-forests-mining CLICK HERE TO CONTACT MEMBERS OF SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES & SUBCOMMITTEE ON PUBLIC LANDS, FORESTS & MINING
and their phone: (202) 224-4971 and fax: (202) 224-6163.
The Chair of this subcommittee is Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) with other Democratic members being Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sen. Angus S. King (D-Maine), Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Sen. John W. Hickenlooper (D-CO).
The Republican subcommittee members are: Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT, Ranking member), Sen. James E. Risch (R-ID), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi)
Ex-Official Subcommittee members are: Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-WV) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).
Your Senators and Representatives and any other Senators and Representatives can be reached at the Congressional Switchboard which is (202) 224-3121. Press 1 for Senate and 2 for H. of R. and an operator will connect you to the Senator or Representative you desire to speak to, or their staff.
To reach the House Appropriations Committee dial (202) 225-2771.
Finally, President Joseph Biden and Vice President Camilla Harris at the top of the Executive branch should be contacted. For this I suggest the easy-to-use form at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact. CLICK HERE TO CONTACT US PRESIDENT BIDEN & VP HARRIS ON THIS CRUCIAL WILD HORSE FAIRNESS ISSUE! Another contact channel is: CLICK HERE TO CONTACT US PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN ON THIS POPULAR SITE RE: CRUCIAL WILD HORSE FAIRNESS ISSUE!
Phone Numbers. Comments: 202-456-1111. Switchboard: 202-456-1414. TTY/TTD. Comments: 202-456-6213. Visitor’s Office: 202-456-2121. Send a letter to Honorable President Joseph Biden, The White House at:
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20500.
Another contact is https://governmenty.com/joe-biden
I would appreciate receiving news of the responses you receive from these powerful officials and any ideas, reactions, etc., you have on how we can save America’s precious and valuable wild horses and burros in the wild and as truly wild, naturally living presences upon America’s awesome public lands and suitable adjoining areas that would be complete and viable habitats for these wonderful and life-restoring presences.