SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

August 28, 2013

Wild Horse Crisis

Just say ‘Whoa!’ West faces horse crisis


The West is on the verge of a serious horse crisis. That’s the upshot of a new paper in the journal Science, which argues that the wild horse population is growing so fast that the government soon could be unable to manage the herds.

Here’s the back story: About 33,000 wild horses roam freely on public lands in the western United States, descendants of horses brought by Spanish conquistadors. Under a 1971 law, the Bureau of Land Management is supposed to protect these horses and make sure their numbers don’t get out of hand — so that they’re not destroying the ecosystem or dying of starvation.

  • But the bureau has long struggled to bring the horse population down to the mandated level of 23,622. There are, after all, only a few thousand people willing to adopt horses each year. And Congress has largely restricted the slaughter of healthy horses.

So, in recent years, the bureau has been rounding up excess horses and shipping them to long-term “retirement” facilities — mainly private ranches in Kansas and Oklahoma. The problem is that this is hugely expensive: There are 45,000 horses in these facilities, and the bureau’s horse budget has soared from $19.8 million in 2000 to $74.9 million in 2012. (Wow, had no idea — that’s a problem!)

Lately, Congress has started reining in spending on the effort. The bureau has announced that it will remove fewer horses from public lands. At the same time, wild horses keep breeding, with unmanaged herds able to triple in size in just six to eight years.

  • Put it all together, and it’s a looming disaster.

The Science paper, written by Robert A. Garrott of the University of Montana and Madan K. Oli of the University of Florida, calculates that if current trends continue, the bureau would have to spend about $1.1 billion over the next 17 years just to keep storing horses in long-term facilities — a level far beyond anything Congress seems willing to contemplate.  (Obviously, that’s no solution)

  • “Some horse advocates have argued that we should just let the horses self-regulate on public lands,” Garrott said. “But what do we do when animals are destroying range land, competing with livestock and other wildlife and dying due to starvation and drought?”

In their paper, Garrott and Oli argue that it’s long past time to get America’s horse issues under control.

  • They say that if Congress and the bureau can figure out how to get the number of wild horses down to around 23,000 or so —and soon — then contraceptive vaccines plus adoptions could likely keep the population at a sustainable level.

(My Comment:   

Every reader who comes to “smokinchoices” knows that I am totally opposed to any vaccinations of any possible category.  They seldom do what is promised while instead, leaving illness and injury in their wake.    Ingested contraceptives have injured humans as well — much sickness and injury from it,  untold actually.   

Messing around with those horses biological systems can bring misery, and possibly peril or even annihilation. One must admit that  it could, possibly work.   My back automatically goes up, even so because BIG PhRMA always gloms onto anything from which they can make still more money – their driving passion.   It is possible that any cost savings could just be shunted over to  the drug industry and another agency ‘overseeing’ all.  

However, the horse population is the issue, not my beef with PhRMA control or even government control.  Nor should it be  left up to people with perhaps some myopia with regard to love of animals   [especially horses  — see my recent post of July 25, 2013 titled     “We eat horses, don’t we?”].    If our horse population seems out of control, one might think a more “equitable-for-all” solution is or could be out there. 

I am not advocating breaking the law nor am I turning a blind eye toward the protection and humane treatment of these animals.  There is no question that these beautiful, beloved animals could be culled down to size with care and humanity — — treated with respect and carefully delivered to our own, humanely-run  slaughter houses [highly supervised] and with rigid  limitations, fully understanding that this is not going to be turned into America’s newest meat specialty.   But merely an answer to one of our very specialized solutions to a problem.  It doesn’t have to guarantee millions to anyone.  Should be a humanitarian effort.  Any law can be amended, altered or changed, especially if the original issue is clearly dealt with. 

And frankly, as I would endorse this as a viable solution for these animals I have always loved,  . . . . . . so I would for those among us – humans, who wish to retire from their earthly striving and perhaps, prison of pain.  Humane ending for any species.  We are all God’s issue.   There is no point whatsoever in prolonging any individual’s life beyond his or her need to have it end.  The penalties and stigma attached to such efforts are in fact cruel, have nothing to do with justice or good will, but only some words on a paper somewhere.  A great many of us have “put down” a beloved pet because we didn’t want them to suffer and  was the right thing to do..  We remove a blemished apple from it’s kin in the bushel so as not to contaminate the whole shebang. It’s the right and smart thing to do.  The apple is not offended. 

A lot of us need to reorganize our priorities;  reach for the better thought — solution,  make an effort to see broader pictures and paint with a bigger brush.  .    .   in a lot of areas.  It helps to remember that our forefathers in their wisdom were most emphatic regarding the division — separation of CHURCH  and STATE.  If each of us in our own way were striving to benefit the “common good,” our world could be a much  more pleasant place, expressing happiness and joy along with all our various pressures. Jan)


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