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The Future of Our Nations Wild Horse's are Uncertain.
The future of our nation's wild horses are uncertain because the BLM is currently petitioning congress for more money or to allow them to open up the sales of captured wild horses to more buyers. Including buyers who ship them to slaughter houses, or buyers who will make them work horses.
Pictures and video from one of my visit's to see the wild horses in western Nevada.
On Memorial Day weekend I once again visited our nation’s wild horses. This time I visited the herd on the Pine Nut Mountain Range in Nevada. That area is an HMA or a herd management area, which means they are “are lands under the supervision of the United States Bureau of Land Management that are managed for the primary but not exclusive benefit of free-roaming ‘wild’ horses and burros.” During previous visits to see wild horses I mostly concentrated my observation of them on the Virginia Range, which is geographically north of the Pine Nut Mountains. I targeted this herd because they have advocates that speak for them and maintain them. In other word’s they have people who look after them. It is my opinion the wild horse herd in the Pine Nut’s are very special because of the bonds they form between each other. Wild horses are considered by some, to simply be feral horses. Brought on by economic desperation or owners who simply became too poor to care for them, but, after they are in the wild, they are wild again. Wild horses do indeed become themselves after they are free to roam on the ranges. They form their own families, socialize with each other, they adopt or raise their own off spring, they have leaders, followers, babysitters, and bosses, and many become best friends’. Observing wild horses is simply the most amazing experience a wildlife photographer could do for themselves.
Where are wild horses
Wild horses can be found on the Eastern side of the United States in “Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, Maryland, Virginia and the beaches of North Carolina. Kentucky is known for its Kentucky Horse Park, and Corova's wild horses are located in Corolla, N.C.”
They can also be found on the Western side of the United States in “California, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, South Dakota, Arizona and Texas. Nevada is home to more than half of the wild horse populations in North America. Oregon's wild horse populations increase 20 percent every year and are appreciated for their high quality and color. Texas is known for its Oracoke wild ponies.” It is believed there are upwards of 33,000 wild horses in the United States.
History of wild horses in the US
Horses evolved from a species called Eohippus. Horses evolved into the equus species approximately 11 to 13 thousands years ago and then they disappeared from the United States. In the 1500’s the horses was reintroduced into America by the Spanish. A few horses broke free from the Spanish and once again walked the soils of America. In that instance once they were reintroduced back into the wild they became wild again. Horses have historically been used to discover and settle America.
“According to Western writer J. Frank Dobie, their numbers in the 19th century reached more than 2 million. But by the time the wild horse received federal protection in 1971, it was officially estimated that only about 17,000 of them roamed America's plains. More than 1 million had been conscripted for World War I combat; the rest had been hunted for their flesh, for the chicken feed and dog food companies, and for the sport of it. They were chased by helicopters and sprayed with buckshot; they were run down with motorized vehicles and, deathly exhausted, weighted with tires so they could be easily picked up by rendering trucks. They were run off cliffs, gunned down at full gallop, shot in corralled bloodbaths, and buried in mass graves.”
The current issue with horses on our ranges.
Many ranchers in the West view wild horses as merely feral horses thus they consider them free loaders on the ranges where they allegedly compete with cattle, antelope or elk. Ranchers consider them “eye-sores, habitat destroyers and misfits.” They want the horses gone by any means possible. However wild horses and burros are protected by the Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Act, which declared “wild 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; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene.” The Act was later amended by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 and the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978.
When on the range wild horses start their own families and they breed. But it is estimated there are somewhere between 30-33,000 wild horses in North America. There are so few wild horses advocates give them names throughout the ranges in the West. Recently a birth control method called porcine zona pellucida or (PZP) has been used by advocates to control the birth rate of horses on the ranges. This birth control method has been used successfully and is meant to ward off violent wild horse round-ups. This birth control method is administered by darts by trained professionals. Ranchers and the like often complain the wild horses trample up and turn the desert to dust, and ruin their cow grazing land. Our government sometimes lease or allows ranchers stock to graze on federally managed land, and in some instances gives them priority over public lands.
What the BLM wants to do with the horses to control the populations of wild horses?
The BLM or the Bureau of Land Management has historically been hard on our nations wild horse’s by facilitating cruel round-ups in the name of controlling the population. The BLM says there are approximately 70,000 wild horses free on the ranges with another 10-15,000 in holding facilities. Once their rounded-up they are adopted or bought. If they are bought they are sometimes slaughtered. If they are adopted they get to either go refuges or farms or ranches. Some are rehabilitated and turned into show or work horses. It is false to say the BLM round’s up horses and sends them all to slaughter. But it is the BLM who is in charge of maintaining the horse populations on the ranges.
The Big Picture
Currently the BLM is petitioning congress because they say the wild horse populations are at crisis levels. They predict there will be 100,000 wild horses on our ranges in the next five years if they don’t get extra funding to control the population of wild horses, or be allowed to sell the horses to any buyer, including ones’ who will send them to slaughter houses. In other words the BLM cannot currently safely control the populations of wild horses in America without money or without easing selling restrictions. Wild horses and burros are currently protected by the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which “is an Act of Congress (Pub.L. 92–195), signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon on December 18, 1971. The act covered the management, protection and study of "unbranded and unclaimed horses and burros on public lands in the United States." More information on it can be found here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_and_Free-Roaming_Horses_and_Burros_Act_of_1971
The stallion is called "Skip." The yearlings following him are adopted.
This is another band. The bonds they form the relationships they create and the families they make are unique. Many wild horse photographers are starting to see some other traits in horses like grieving, consoling, pointing and more verbal communication.
The Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates http://wildhorseadvocates.org/ facilitate the water tanks in the desert for the wild horses on that range. The tanks keep the horses away from the neighborhood's.
This horse is deliberately pointing to something on the ground. Upon further examination I learned this horse was showing me his dead friend. See video.
The deceased horse was named Sweet Jack. As a kid, and since horses play hard he had been injured. The injury stunted his growth, and the BLM wanted to round him up, but horse advocates urged the BLM to let him live on the range. He developed friendships and hung out in the bachelor band for 3 years after that near fatal injury. In other words by allowing him to live on the range he lived three years longer than normal. Watching his friend show me the body and discovering him was a heartbreaking moment, but it was my goal to find new life and death on the range.
Ranchers and other opponents say the wild horses damage the range's, but the ranchers use the land to graze their cattle. This video is what I observed on the range.
He was injured as a kid, but was able to live on for three years on the range, free, and NOT in captivity.
I noticed this horse communicating with his voice and pointing to the ground. He seemed to lead me to a deceased friend.