Right now, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is conducting a five-year study on wild mares in the Adobe Town Herd Management Area (ATHMA) of south-central Wyoming with the help of the University of Wyoming’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. And like most recent interactions between the BLM and wild horses, this is likely to result in dire consequences for those mares.
Supposedly, the study is meant to “document habitat selection, movement between habitats, seasonal use, and migration patterns of wild horses” within and outside this area in order to understand how horses move across the Colorado-Wyoming border, how the removal of horses from the checkerboard portion of the HMA influences the movement of mares from non-checkerboard portions of ATHMA (i.e. creation of a void), how horses select landscape resources relative to their proportional availability, and how site fidelity of horses is influenced by season.”
But as Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation, explains, “The researchers are seeking to prove that wild horses will ‘move into a void’ created by rounding up and removing horses from the Checkerboard, so they can ‘prove’ that it impossible to remove horses from the Checkerboard and keep them out. They are also hoping to ‘prove’ that wild horses degrade riparian areas.” The reason? It’s because the BLM works hand-in-hand with the cattle ranching industry to allocate more public land for grazing beef and dairy cows in order to collect more livestock grazing tax from those industry interests.
Those interests continue to claim that there is not enough grazing land due to an overpopulation of wild horses that deplete the area of feed, when, in fact, wild horses occupy just 11 percent of BLM-managed land and ranchers’ cows already outnumber wild horses 50 to 1 … and growing.
Meanwhile, using our tax dollars, the BLM and University of Wyoming team have already bait-trapped at least 14 “test subjects” in the ATHMA area, along with a handful of mares who, after being trapped, were deemed too young to participate in the study. It isn’t uncommon for the BLM to turn around and cull wild horses trapped in its holding facilities or send them to slaughter. And since the agency already voted in September 2016 to kill off 44,000 of the nation’s 67,000 total remaining wild horses, this act of trapping is, in and of itself, a very scary step.
So far, these horses have been spared that fate, though their future remains wildly unsure. They are being fitted with radio collars, which can dangerously impact their health and well-being. For example, if they gain weight either by growing naturally or due to pregnancy, the collars will become too tight for comfort or should their collars become caught on brush or the horses’ own hooves, as has happened in previous studies, it could prove disastrous. Plus, these collars ensure the agency will know exactly where to find them should the decision be made to cull this group of horses.
Ten of the collared mares have been re-released into the area so far, although not together. Instead, a couple individuals at a time were let run miles away from each other, which confused the horses further, as they are used to thriving and surviving in herds. In addition, no effort was made to keep horses from the same family together.
Clearly, there is little regard for the welfare of these horses, and this study is simply designed to further empower the industry interests who help fund the BLM at the expense of American taxpayers.
According to a national poll, 72 percent of Americans favor protecting wild horses, 66 percent think the BLM’s approach to wild horse management is an inefficient use of tax dollars, and 62 percent support the repeal of the law that allows the BLM to sell wild horses for slaughter.
If you’re among them, please take a moment to stand up for the wild mares in the Adobe Town Herd Management Area by signing this petition on Care2 demanding that these collars be removed.
But please don’t stop there. It’s important that we continue to speak out for wild horses in Oregon, Arizona, North Carolina, and other parts of the nation who are being earmarked for extinction, as well.
In addition, the most important action each of us can take to stop these atrocities and protect America’s wild horses is to avoid beef and dairy products at all costs because nothing speaks louder than diminishing demand.
Image source: Care2