Friday, 8 January 2010
Wild Mustangs are being rounded-up and captured in Nevada and Colorado. The operation to remove about 2,500 wild mustangs from publicly held land started at the end of December 2009. The stated reason for the round up of the horses is that there are too many of them and that there is not enough food and water for all of them. Awww, so humane, moving horses to a better place where they can receive food, water and veterinary care.
But methinks that is not the whole story. For a start the horses are being scared into corals by the use of two low-flying helicopters - this according to people who know more about horses than I do, is a tactic that will panic the horses and may well lead to extensive injuries to the animals, or even death. Furthermore, doing this in the depth of winter increases the risk of respiratory diseases in the horses.
The horses are then trucked to a holding area where they will receive veterinary care and food and water. So far so good, we may question the appropriateness of the timing of the operation but surely rescuing horses from land that can no longer support their growing population is a humane and laudable thing to do?
Well maybe, but let us just look behind the scenes. Who says that the land cannot support the horses living on it? Whose land are these horses living on? Who benefits from a reduced horse population? Who pays for the capture and removal of the horses?
When I studied biology and ecology years ago, we had a theoretical framework that basically boils down to the fact that there is a system of checks and balances that will be applied by nature to the growth of a population of animals if there is no human involvement in the situation. The theory went like this - in this example we will use rabbits.
You have a rabbit colony living on a piece of land. There is plenty of food, water and there are the usual natural predators as well. The rabbit population will increase because there is plenty of food etc and will decrease depending on predator population as well to some extent. Then there was a hard winter and a dry summer. There is not enough grass, not enough water, pregnant rabbits miscarry and baby rabbits die because their parents are unable to feed them. The population goes down. It is a very simplified example, of course there are other factors to take into consideration, but normally the size of a wild animal species population will be controlled by naturally occurring shortages and gluts of food, water and other factors. It is only when man becomes involved in the situation that the system does not work so well.
And of course, man is involved in this situation. Biologists who have studied the range lands and the health of the wild mustang populations living there, say there is nothing to indicate that the land is unable to sustain the current population and can see no reason to remove healthy horses from the land at all. The land in question is publicly held land, i.e. it belongs to the citizens of the 5 states involved in the removal of the horses. It is also the tax payers of those states who are paying for their own wild horses to be removed. That answers all but the most crucial question at all. Who benefits from the removal of these wild horses?
Enter, the Bureau of Land Management and the El Paso Natural Gas Corporation of Colorado Springs, CO. Apparently the Gas Corporation has managed to somehow acquire a right of way in this ecologically critical unprotected wild land, to lay down what is known as The Ruby Pipeline.
In a written response to questions posed by the Office of Energy Projects (an agency within the Department of Energy), a Ruby natural gas pipeline project consultant, Dan Gredvig, stated that Ruby will work with BLM to minimize wild horse and burro grazing along the restored ROW (right-of-way) for three years. Possible management actions would be to . . . reduce wild horse populations following BLM policy in appropriate management areas.
So to recap, wild horses are being terrorized by helicopters, put at risk of injury, death and respiratory diseases, removed from publicly held land, at the expense of the tax payer, so that a gas company can protect 'its right of way' over public land and lay its pipeline. Why is it that the tax payer has to pay for a private company to have rights over land that belongs to the public in the first place and why does the Bureau of Land Management lie about the reason for removing the horses?
Maybe it is time that the public stands up for the population of authentic American Wild Mustangs, before another company comes along needing to have some sort of access or right of way over public land, and requesting that the taxpayer again foots the bill for the removal of the land´s original inhabitants. Do not let big business steal your heritage here, please.
I enclose links of interest for those wanting to do more research in this matter.
Links of interest:
Ruby Pipeline Information
Western Watersheds Project
Freedom’s Escape & Roundup Report: http://humanitythrougheducation.com/
Video Overview of Calico horses and current roundup
12.28.09 USA Today: “Activists Decry Wild-Horse Roundups”
Mestengo. Mustang. Misfit.
America’s Disappearing Wild Horses