Are wild horses a native species? Question is at heart of debate

wildhorsesofscotland

If only the Salt Lake Tribune would have sought out biologists not in control of the cattle industry, they could have had a more rational explanation as to what is going on. Robert Bauer’s “A Biologist’s Response….” here on our website goes into the true heart of the matter: The mismanagement of wild horse herds in the West by the BLM.

Whether or not horses and burros lived in the American West continuously is not an issue. Horses biology is developed in such a way – after living for extended periods of time in North America – that they are adapted to the lands of the American West. Cattle are the invasive species not horses and burros.

Jay Kirkpatrick’s (another pro-cattle biologist) states that horses have no economic value any more. This flies in the face of American values which are reflected in the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act which states: “wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people…”. If we only kept alive those things Kirkpatrick considers of economic value, plenty of species – including ourselves – could be placed on the chopping block. ~ HfH

From: The Salt Lake Tribune
By: Kristen Moulton

wildhorsesofscotlandAdvocates are petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list wild horses as threatened or endangered, which would trigger protections for herds in 10 Western states.

Setting aside the question of whether there are too many or too few horses — a debate raging throughout the West — the wildlife agency will have to consider a perennial question: Are wild horses native to this country?

To gain endangered or threatened status, a species must be in danger of going extinct and generally, it must be native.

The prevailing wisdom — and the position of the Bureau of Land Management, which manages wild horses — is that wild horses are not native because humans brought them to the continent.

Friends of Animals and The Cloud Foundation argue in a petition filed June 10 that horses are both going extinct and, indeed, a native species.

The two nonprofits contend wild horses on the public range face extinction because of loss of habitat to cattle grazing, mining, energy exploration and urban expansion, as well as the BLM’s controls, which limit the horses to small herds on isolated ranges, require frequent roundups and are headed toward sterilization of horses.

And they point to prominent researchers who, contrary to long-standing assumptions, consider wild horses a native species.

Ross MacPhee, an evolutionary biologist and curator of mammology at the American Museum of Natural History, says it’s “complete absurdity” to consider wild horses as non-native.

Their ancestors evolved on this continent millions of years ago, and some migrated over the Bering Strait land bridge that then connected North America to Asia.

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AUTHOR: Posted by Habitat for Horses Calaway
8 Comments
  • Louie C

    There is more to this than meets the eye.
    Wild Horses and Burros are FEDERALLY PROTECTED.
    IF they are removed from Public Lands, then who or what is next?

    These are just a few excerpts from a very long and VERY informative article about OUR Public Lands. Much of it focuses on Utah.

    http://prospect.org/article/land-was-your-land

    The federal public land that Utah is claiming for itself is owned by you and me and some 300 million other Americans. It is a peculiar property right we each have to this commons, as we acquire it simply by dint of citizenship, and what we own is spectacular. The BLM and Forest Service lands, which include almost 300 million acres in 11 Western states and Alaska, make up some of the nation’s wildest deserts, forests, rivers, mountains, and canyons: places not touted for tourism; places where big mammals and ferocious carnivores roam unhindered; where a citizen with an interest in such things can hike, bike, camp, fish, hunt, raft, ride horseback, carry a pistol, fire a Kalashnikov, sling an arrow, get as lost as a pioneer.

    The marvel of the federal public-lands system is that it exists at all.

    During the 19th century and into the early 20th, much of the land was leased and sold off in a frenzy of corrupt dealings. Railroads, corporations, land speculators, mining interests, and livestock barons gorged on the public domain, helped along by the spectacularly pliable General Land Office, which from 1812 until its closure in 1946 privatized more than one billion acres, roughly half the landmass of the nation.

    We can thank the first generation of American conservationists—think John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt—for persuading Congress to set aside a portion of America’s forests in federal reserves,

    the BLM was from the start a creature of local interests. It was formed out of the U.S. Grazing Service, which traditionally had been run at the local and state level by “grazing advisory boards,” which largely consisted of ranchers, bankers, lawyers, real-estate dealers, and mining magnates. With this model of decentralized, business-friendly management imported to the BLM—the grazing boards even at one time paid the salaries of BLM employees—the agency’s officers were recruited from the counties they were meant to regulate. Range enforcers tasked to restrict grazing were the sons of ranchers, and watchdogs of mining and drilling had brothers and uncles and cousins who ran oil and gas and hard-rock companies. The BLM came to be mocked as the Bureau of Livestock and Mining, and by 1961 President John F. Kennedy would note that “much of this public domain suffers from uncontrolled use and a lack of proper management.”

    “There is pressure to not regulate, to not do your job,” Dennis Willis, a retired BLM range conservationist and recreation manager who worked for the agency for 34 years, told me when I met him at his home in Price, a hundred miles west of the Book Cliffs-East Tavaputs. He wanted to show me the result of the lack of regulation on bureau land around Price. We drove in his truck out of town and up a winding road onto a sun-crushed expanse of pygmy pines and sagebrush scrub known as Wood Hill. We stopped at a well, one of dozens in a complex on BLM land leased to the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, a $52 billion Texas-based energy company with operations on five continents. His long beard and hair whipping about in the desert wind, Willis brandished a Bic lighter and joked that I should spark the flint to see if the site was leaking natural gas. The explosion, he said, would send us and the wellhead to hell and back.

    The Utah BLM, according to Willis, has a habit of not monitoring leaks from wells. On some oil and gas fields, he told me, there was no monitoring for groundwater and surface-water contamination. The BLM, he said, had in many instances failed to probe for subsoil leakage from oil and gas drill sites; had failed to provide enough “sniffer trucks” to look for contamination of the air; and, in his view, hadn’t conducted the proper environmental assessments of roads that had fragmented the habitat for wildlife. Where we stood amid the labyrinth of drill sites and earth pounded flat by Caterpillar trucks, the wind threw up dust from soil that had been disturbed. Few of the plants around the extraction sites on Wood Hill were native. Mostly we saw invasive cheatgrass and Russian thistle. Oil and gas drill pads were supposed to be managed by the agency in accordance with the environmental protection mandates of FLPMA, so that native vegetation could reclaim the soil, prevent erosion, and preserve the ecosystem against invasives that profit from disturbed ground. “My big issue with oil and gas on public lands is that industry is like Vikings approaching a coastal village,” Willis said. “It’s rape and pillage.”

    When I called up retired BLM archaeologist Blaine Miller, who worked in the Price office as a specialist in Native American rock art, he told me that he had been punished for opposing energy development in the Price area. He had warned as early as 2002 about the probability of dust and vibration from oil and gas traffic ruining thousand-year-old petroglyphs in Nine Mile Canyon, a gorge near Price sometimes called the world’s longest art gallery. Miller told me that he had drafted “letters of consultation” to be added to the environmental assessments his bosses in Price required for the approval of energy leases in and around Nine Mile Canyon. “Those letters never left the office,” Miller says. “They were thrown away. My boss called me in and said he was told that the state office is going to lease these parcels no matter what, and you’re going to rewrite your analysis so they can do that.

    June 22, 2014
  • Nancy Albin

    Half of our political leaders.. Are they native “AMERICANS?” Should they be tortured & skinned alive because they are NOT! I don’t see any of them in my ancestors pictures nor do i see any of their names!!! NOT ONLY Are These Horses AMERICANS, ANIMALS ARE JUST AS ALIVE LIVING CREATURES AS YOU & ME & I’M APPAULED THAT IN THIS EDUCATED 21ST CENTURY OF MANKIND THE SUPERIOR RACE OF INTELIGENCE OUR TECHNOLOGY OF SPYWARE, HACKERS, IDENTITY THIEVES, EVIL IS OVER POWERING HONESTY TO VOTE FOR OUR LEADERS WE ARE RAISED TO VOTE FOR THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS! WHY IS THIS EXCEPTABLE TO US? WHY ARE SOME OF US (LIKE ME) LOOKED DOWN ON BECAUSE OF MY BRUTAL HONESTY? BECAUSE I TELL IT LIKE IT IS? OR BECAUSE I AM RIGHT & THAT FRIGHTENS EVERYBODY? RIGHT OR WRONG I KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO LIVING BEINGS THAT HAVE EMOTIONS & FEELINGS OF PAIN, SORROW, HAPPINESS & LOSS, DEPRESSION, CONFIDENCE, LOVE & HATE, I AM GOING TO CONTINUE TO FIGHT FOR EVERYTHING WITH A BEATING HEART TO NOT BE CLASSIFIED AS PROPERTY AND HAVE THE SAME RIGHTS AS YOU AND I!!! I WILL NOT LIVE IN A BARBARIC WORLD OF SICK & PERVERSE DOINGS AMONGST US!!! OR “EYE FOR AN EYE” & I DON’T KNOW IF THEY CAN HANDLE THAT BECAUSE I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THAT!!!

    June 22, 2014
  • Louie C

    I posted the above comment on the Salt Lake Tribune, but I don’t see it. It appears to have been removed.

    June 22, 2014
  • Nancy Albin

    oh these people are so uneducated !!!

    June 22, 2014
  • Nancy Albin

    oh wait i mean the comments from the other people on pages oh sorry i had to state some facts to people making commemnts on the other page oops but while i am here blm gov etc are bound & determined to make this “concrete america” to fill their pockets that is wht i believe it is all about @@!!!! It is so upsetting NO I am Mad!!!

    June 22, 2014
  • Dwayne

    Where did these horses come from then?

    June 22, 2014
  • Louie C

    http://www.sagebrushsea.org/pdf/factsheet_Grazing_Fiscal_Costs.pdf
    In Supreme Court documents, the State Bank of Southern Utah confirmed that financial
    institutions hold an estimated $10 billion in loans and related credit transactions to the
    public land ranching industry, with the grazing privileges alone worth approximately $1
    billion.

    June 23, 2014
  • mustang man

    Jay Kirkpatrick PhD of Montana has done more research and accepted proofs that the wild horse is a native animal then anybody and that its mostly the cattle/sheep that are destroying the plains they are living on. Are you speaking of another J Kirkpatrick?

    As to wild horses economic value, if he said that then he is correct. wild horses have no economic value except to the long term holding facilities that get paid to keep them. but should they be defined by what they are worth to Humans in dollars? I don’t think so. Not everything is or should be valued by the dollars it/they are worth, People, horses or anything else. Otherwise who cares if they have economic value or not but that still does not change the fact that they do not carry a economic value, I don’t consider that a pro or anti cattle statement but simply the truth. All of this has been rehashed so many times over the last 25 years I think we should be focusing on something new and different rather than just re-penning the same old stuff over and over again.

    June 25, 2014