BLM must reconsider its policies on wild horses


From: The Denver Post Idea Log
By: Ashley Matthews

Guest Commentary

Ellie Phipps Price is the producer of “American Mustang,” a documentary on wild horses that was screened at the Denver Film Festival. (Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

Ellie Phipps Price is the producer of “American Mustang,” a documentary on wild horses that was screened at the Denver Film Festival. (Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

Media reports consistently declare overpopulation of wild horses causes an environmental burden on Bureau of Land Management lands. This media spin by the BLM has been used to gain public support for removal of thousands of wild horses so commercial interests like the highly profitable cattle industry can use these public lands for a nominal fee. Over the weekend, the Denver Film Festival premiered “American Mustang,” a film addressing this dishonest, costly and cruel federal program undermining protections for wild horses afforded by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burros Act.

There are more than 1.75 million cattle on public lands. They outnumber horses 50-to-1. Wild horses number less than 30,000 on only 11 percent of public lands, which are still shared with cattle. Wild horse rangeland has been reduced by 75 percent and populations by more than 270,000 since 1970.

Unlike cattle, wild horses actually benefit the ecosystem. Their moist, nutrient-rich manure builds the soils and their tendency to move over long distances to forage spreads grazing pressure over vast terrain.

So why would the BLM tell a different story about wild horses?

Powerful lobbies like the National Cattleman’s Beef Association have the support of the BLM advisory board. The going rate for cattle on private land is over $16 a head but on public lands ranchers pay just 1/16th of that.

To make room for the nearly 2 million “$1-per-head cattle,” taxpayers also shell out over $100,000 per day to feed 50,000 wild horses stockpiled in government holding facilities. Only a handful of cattle ranchers benefit from this incredible handout as a mere 3 percent of the beef industry is supported by public land. The total cost to taxpayers for this corporate welfare to a lucky few: $132 million per year.

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AUTHOR: Amber Barnes
  • Shirley Mix

    Please leave the horses alone. They are are past, they helped us win the west. Why cant anyone understand that.
    They are an American Heritage.

    November 13, 2013
  • Robyn Gipp

    I highly recommend this documentary!!
    Enjoyed very much.
    There were a lot of uneducated people in the audience asking a lot of questions to Ellie and the producers after the documentary.

    They could have taken it to another level with real Wild Horse Advocates in attendance to open the eyes of everyone.
    They advertised in the paper and could of asked for Advocates to volunteer their time in each city they are showing the film..

    Hats off to them for helping get the word out.

    November 13, 2013
  • Marylu Weber

    This is a good article, but what I found quite interesting is that the photo that comes up with it on Facebook of an overo mare and foal is one that I took in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in 2009. That is Lightning and her filly, Lindylu. We at North Dakota Badlands Horse document, find homes for, and register those horses. We are hoping the park can become an example of good management of wild horses. I am privileged to have my photo used to promote humane, fair treatment of wild horses. Thank you!

    November 13, 2013
    • jfinch

      Marylu – When the articles do not have pictures, we usually just use one from Google Images, which is where we found yours. Our own pictures can be found there, too, usually without any reference to HfH.

      November 13, 2013
  • Penny Zielstorf

    I Love It When The Truth Is Layed Out In Black And White..Our Gov sucksss

    November 13, 2013