February 06, 2011

'Mustang Mythology'

Conservation writer Ted Williams takes on the "feral-horse lobby" in Audubon magazine.
A feral horse is a far greater threat to native ecosystems than a cow. When grass between shrubs is gone cows move on; horses stomp the shrubs into the dirt to get the last blade. What’s more, when cattle deplete forage they’re moved to new allotments, and they’re taken off the range in winter. But horses pound vegetation all year. And because horses live on range incapable of consistently sustaining them they sometimes starve and, in the process, cause the starvation of such sensitive desert creatures as sage grouse, bighorn sheep, Gila monsters, pronghorns, and desert tortoises. Not only will horses beat springs and seeps into mud holes, they’ll stand over them, running off wild ungulates, people, and even sage grouse.

The feral-horse lobby dismisses these facts as fiction concocted by the BLM on behalf of the cattle industry.
Some follow-up here on his blog.

Like many Colorado journalists, I once wrote my obligatory news feature on the program in which state prison inmates in Cañon City work with wild horses to make them adoptable.

But there are thousands more horses than there are people who want them. And slaughtering them has been made almost impossible. So they end up in corrals.

Yet the mythology persists.

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