George Knapp: The BLM is not listening
Maybe you are one of those hard-bark, Western cowpoke types who doesn’t exactly get misty-eyed by the vision of a herd of wild mustangs majestically galloping across the sage-dotted open ranges of Nevada. You think of the mustangs as pests or varmints, an invasive species that needs to be eliminated from public lands so there will be more than enough water and forage for the rightful end-users of the public range — cows.
You remember as a kid when you read all those history books about the vast herds of wild cows that roamed North America in prehistoric times? No? Well, maybe you learned from Western movies about how cows are native to these parts, you know, and about how saber-toothed cows terrorized early settlers and thus had to be domesticated. Clearly, in the eyes of some, millions of cows on the public ranges are not a problem and are not an invasive species, but a few thousand wild horses — which are native to this continent — are destructive, invasive pests that need to go.
No matter what your point of view might be, you have a chance this week to let the government know what you think about its wild horse program. Public meetings are being held to gauge public opinion about horse roundups that almost certainly are planned for a few places in the nearby Spring Mountains, including the idyllic mountain community of Cold Creek, home to a small, beloved herd of mustangs.
Don’t get the wrong idea, though. Just because these are public meetings at which the public will be asked for its opinion, you should not assume you will be allowed to actually say anything to the government PR folks who run the get-togethers. They have no intention of standing there and allowing the public to tee off. Typically, the feds and their PR handlers will not allow anyone to stand up and speak. Rather, members of the public are allowed to submit written comments that are carefully and meticulously gathered up, and then — presumably — are promptly shredded for use in recycled toilet paper. They surely play zero role in government decision-making.
Even if you somehow pull off a miracle and manage to tell the BLM that you hate the idea of yet another horse roundup, as hundreds of Nevadans have done over the past several years, it will make not one bit of difference. The decision on when and where and how many horses to capture has already been made, and no amount of opposition to the roundups will matter one tiny bit to BLM or the Forest Service. Their disdain for the public, and especially for wild horse advocates, is palpable.
The other day at a BLM corral near Reno, three BLM wranglers put on a little show of defiance and contempt when they tried to capture a single painted mustang from one of the holding pens. Instead of saddling up their horses to enter the pens where the skittish, recently captured mustangs were baking in the hot sun, these three burly yokels crammed themselves into the front seat of a flatbed truck and then tore into the corral like they were imitating Bo Duke trying to get away from Boss Hogg. Video recorded by a horse advocate shows the rootin’-tootin’ cowpokes repeatedly fishtailing their truck and spinning around to take another run at the paint, while scattering every other horse in the pen. They even made a point of coming over to the women with the camera to taunt her, knowing that the video would make not a whit of difference to their bosses, even if it went viral.
The BLM’s virtually unstoppable plan to round up the few wild horses that remain in Southern Nevada comes less than two weeks after the wild horse program was described as abysmal failure in a study conducted for the National Academy of Sciences. The blistering report ripped the BLM a new one, and, in particular, declared the continued program of roundups and long-term storage as counterproductive — for the horses, the range and especially the taxpayers. One likely effect of the constant roundups is that the horses go into survival mode, meaning, they reproduce far in excess of what they might naturally do. CONTUNUED….
Please go HERE to read the rest and to COMMENT.(GEORGE KNAPP is a Peabody Award-winning investigative reporter for KLAS Channel 8. He is one of the few reporters that actually does research into the BLM and reports the truth.)
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