BLM Lacks Horse Sense in Managing Mustangs

Horse sense is sadly lacking where management of the wild mustang is concerned. I see that a Judge dismissed the suit that Wyoming brought against the BLM for having too many cayuses on the range. It seems the critters are competing with Wyoming cattle, not to mention damaging habitat meant for native wildlife such as camelopes, muleys, and wapiti. The Wyoming Governor is quoted as saying the BLM “fails to comply with applicable law.”

Well, you can pass all the “applicable law” you want, but the biological urge to reproduce trumps any law you can concoct in the hallowed halls of Congress. Because God’s creatures can’t read the Congressional Record, they just go on reproducing until they eat themselves out of habitat.

That is why man came up with the modern idea of game management. Game management as we know it today was probably started by some Native American Indian at Chugwater, Wyoming after witnessing a “Buffalo Jump”. This was an activity regularly engaged in by the natives, wherein they ran a whole herd off a cliff, which made for some good eating.

I believe this young Indian Brave, who was called “Chief Many Hands” by the young maidens of the tribe, became the father of modern game management by saying to the Tribal Elders, “Hey old guys, we are killing too many buffalo and wasting the meat.” So they adopted rules and regulations pertaining to how many buffalo a clan could legally run off the cliff at one time, what season of the year they could run them off, what ages and sex those buffalo could be, and how old you must be before participating in a Buffalo Jump. Violation of the Tribal Regs was more frowned upon than doing the Do-Si-Do at a rain dance, and you could be fined much wampum and have your buffalo chasing privileges revoked. But I digress. More on buffalo/bison at a later date.

Let’s see, where was I? Oh yes, wild horse management. It is a fact that these mustangs are not native wild animals but have simply descended from domestic horses of the early explorers. Most of these ponies came from parentage who were tired of pulling a covered wagon for pioneers or packing a grizzled mountain man around looking for beaver or hauling a Spanish Conquistador across the continent. These horses took advantage of the first opportunity they could to escape and make a run for it. So they are not “native” wild. They are more correctly identified as “feral horses”. But since they are a part of the “old west”, we have stars in our eyes regarding these icons.

It is a biological fact of life that a specie, any specie, must be kept in balance with its habitat. That is Cowboy Common Sense.

Commenting on the dismissal of the Wyoming lawsuit to reduce the population of wild horses, the legal director of the Friends of Animals said, “We think that the governor should instead work with the Bureau of Land Management to better protect wild horses.” Protect? Folks, what part of “overpopulated” does this group not understand? They need a good dose of Cowboy Common Sense. Take two doses and call me in the morning.

If a cow ranch can support 1,000 cows, then that is all it can support. The excess calves must be removed each year. The same goes for wildlife and mustangs. The hard fact of life is that we MUST cull their numbers. Failure to do so is setting them up for a catastrophe, including permanent damage to the range. We have tried rounding them up and adopting them out and supporting them on private ranches. Proposals have been made to sterilize wild horses but the cost and logistics are prohibitive.

Cowboy common sense dictates the only reasonable solution is to round up the horses, send the culls to slaughter, and use the meat for dog food or horse steaks for the Europeans. We cannot save and protect all horses. I am heavily involved in donating my money and labor to the Jackson Hole Horse Rescue, so I do what I can. But to protect all mustangs is to condemn the bulk of them to eventual starvation and destruction of our natural resources. We condemn animal hoarders, but wanting to keep a plethora of horses on our range is hoarding. This is PRECISELY why state government solutions are better than a monolithic government thousands of miles from Wyoming’s rangeland.

One of my favorite cartoons is on my wall above my computer screen. It is a Gary Larson “Far Side” cartoon. It shows a couple of horses standing in the corral with wide eyes, looking over the fence at a horse roasting on a spit. Two cowboys are standing there trying to explain to the irate foreman how this happened. “Well, old Roy here said he was hungry enough to eat one and then I thought, well, shoot, so am I, and one thing sort of led to another….”

I am a horse lover, but I think that cartoon is hilarious. I don’t think the excess wild horses should be roasted on a spit, but they have to be removed in some way. For proper wild mustang management their numbers have to be reduced in the most efficient and affordable way possible. That means killing many of them. Unfortunate, but true.

Remember, “Life is always better when viewed from between the ears of a horse.”

Jonesy is my email address for publication.

307-887-3356 is phone and text.

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