Rants from the Hill: Speaking of Wild Horses

Why read the article when you can read the thread instead?

 

“Rants from the Hill” are Michael Branch’s monthly musings on life in the high country of western Nevada’s Great Basin Desert.

Although it is the product of my imagination, the following “conversation” was inspired by actual comments posted in response to several online news stories about the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) recent, controversial roundups of wild horses and burros on public lands in Nevada. Some folks feel passionately that these BLM horse “gathers” are inhumane, while other wild horse advocates go further, arguing that the roundups are unnecessary because horses are a natural part of the western landscape and should thus be left undisturbed. On the other side of the argument are people who see wild horses and burros as introduced, invasive species that damage the range, putting native plants and animals at risk, and risking their own destruction through starvation or dehydration. While palatable solutions are difficult to come by, this “conversation” gives some sense of the quality of current public discourse on a topic that is especially important to those of us who live in the rural Great Basin Desert.

sweetpea: “I think what they’re doing is terrible!!! How can Man be so cruel when these beautiful animals are supposed to run wild and free in Nature?”

ridinandropin: “Wild horses look pretty, but they tear up the range. Their overgrazing is a huge problem, and because they don’t have natural predators their population doubles every four or five years. Roundups are the only way to protect the range and keep herds from massive starvation.”

sweetpea: “ridinandropin, did it ever occur to you that Nature got along fine without us for thousands of years? Those wonderful horses don’t need our ‘help’ at all. This is just another way of interfering with Nature. How would you feel if somebody chased YOU with a helicopter? We should be ashamed!!!”

whatthehellanyway: “Are you serious, sweetpeabrain? Are you saying that people haven’t been living in North America for the last few millennia? And do you know that horses have NOT been around for thousands of years? They were introduced fairly recently (in the 16th c.) by the Spanish. Every one of your My Little Ponies is descended from horses owned by guys named Pedro. Try getting your science from a book other than National Velvet.”

Wild horses in Nevada. Photograph by Flickr user ScottSchrantz.

buds420: “Dude, that Pedro crack is totally racist. Besides, horses HAVE been around for tens of thousands of years. They went extinct here about 11,000 years ago, so really the Europeans were just reintroducing a native species to their home. Those horses belong here.”

whatthehellanyway: “Hey, buds, why don’t you take sweetpeabrain to the prom? You geniuses deserve each other. Please tell me you aren’t saying that an animal that has been absent from an ecosystem for more than ten thousand years is NATIVE when you stick it back in there? Horses are an INVASIVE species and should be EXTERMINATED. That’s the only way to restore what is natural.”

sweetpea: Look, guy with rude name, I’m just saying that Nature knows what to do and we humans usually just mess that up. Besides, how can it be NATURAL to exterminate nature?

inmycrosshairs: “Well, animals naturally destroy each other all the time through predation. But I don’t think the question is whether wild horses are natural or unnatural. The thing is, they’re out there now and they’re going to starve to death if we don’t do something. I think it would be better to have a mustang hunting season and sell tags. That way you could make a lot of money and still deal with the problem.”

endtaxesnow: “inmycrosshairs is right. We gotta control these animals. Most of them won’t be adopted, and it costs WAY too much to feed them and keep them around for no reason. Just another example of big government overstepping its authority. But instead of hunting them it would be better to privatize this so we can slaughter them commercially and sell the meat. There are lots of hungry people out there who could use the food. Maybe we could use horsemeat to finally get them off food stamps.”

buds420: “You’re all missing the point! Hunting and slaughtering are KILLING, and the only reason the BLM is capturing all these horses is to make more room for the greedy ranchers who are already being subsidized. That’s how all the predators got killed off too. These &%!!$% ranchers in their Cadillacs only care about filthy money and not about animals!”

Ridinandropin: “buds420, it might be time for you to step out of your cubicle and away from your bong and educate yourself about ranching. Ranching outfits are usually small operations of hardworking people who care about the land. Most of them are barely scraping by. Not sure where you’re getting your (bad) info, but when you find a rancher who can afford a Caddy let me know.”

buds420: “I do NOT work in a cubicle. And maybe if the government would quit funding unjust wars and hassling peaceful people for smoking weed they’d have enough money to care for these horses.”

inmycrosshairs: “Look, I’ll kill these horses for you. I mean, they’re basically pests. Why are hunters treated like criminals when potheads like buds here are free to get high as a kite and get gay married?”

sweetpea: “Listen to yourselves!!! Don’t you have any heart at all? Do you want to round up homeless puppies and kittens and kill them too?”

whatthehellanyway: “That’s EXACTLY what we do with our overpopulation of feral pets, peabrain. When you’re done reading Black Beauty and drinking your pink Koolaid, try visiting the real world.”

endtaxesnow: “Why are you all so closed minded about horsemeat? Lots of cultures eat horse. I hear it is delicious. This could be a way of finally getting the government to do something that would actually help people. Instead of forcing Obamacare on us they should be doing the job we sent them to Washington to do and get a good commercial horsemeat industry going. We need to get rid of horses and create jobs. The solution seems pretty simple to me.”

whatthehellanyway: “That’s because YOU are simple, endtaxesnow. Maybe you could get wild horses of the same gender to get stoned and marry each other, thus limiting population growth and avoiding the need to eat them. But if the stoned gay wild horse solution doesn’t work you’ll have to do something, because these horses are no different from starlings or Asian carp.”

sweetpea: “I have a horse, and she isn’t at all like a carp. She’s very, very intelligent.”

whatthehellanyway: “Intelligent? You mean compared to you?”

buds420: “Hey, endtaxesnow, when you’re done slurping up propaganda from Fox ‘news’ why don’t you propose gay marriage to inmycrosshairs. You two can spend your honeymoon killing and eating innocent creatures for fun.”

mylittlepony.jpg
One of many My Little Pony toys in the world. Photograph by Flickr user Lisa Brewster.

inmycrosshairs: “I’m pretty sure endtaxesnow is a man. I’m a woman. And I’m married. To a man.”

buds420: “Seriously? I totally thought you were a dude. Sorry about that, inmycrosshairs.”

whatthehellanyway: “I still think sweetpeabrain and budtoker should hook up.”

ridinandropin: “Is there some reason you people can’t focus on the topic at hand? We were discussing the serious problem of wild horses in Nevada.”

buds420: “There you go again defending ranchers, ridinandropin. The only PROBLEM with wild horses in Nevada is how they’re being treated by a government that is in cahoots with your corrupt buddies in the cattle industry.”

endtaxesnow: “No doubt. Can’t trust the government at all. buds420 may be a baked lefty, but at least he’s got this part right. Pretty soon Obama will be taxing hardworking Americans to take care of freeloading horses that they have every right to eat.”

sweetpea: “I would NEVER eat my horse!!!”

whatthehellanyway: “Did you hear the one about the girl who ate her horse? She was taken to the hospital, but her condition is stable. The doctors prescribed a toothpick, because she still has a bit between her teeth.”

inmycrosshairs: “Yeah, that’s a good one. My husband used to work for a butcher shop, but he got fired. He received an email about a shipment of horsemeat but accidentally marked it as spam.”

endtaxesnow: “Nice one, inmycrosshairs. Did you know you can tell where your horsemeat comes from by examining its DN neigh?

buds420: “You people are sick.”

whatthehellanyway: “Yeah, and I got sick from eating a horse burger. It could have been the mayo neighs, but it was probably the mane ingredient. It gave me the trots.”

sweetpea93: “I can’t believe the awful things you all are saying!!! Maybe YOU should be rounded up by those torturious BLM helicopters and herded into poop-filled corrals.”

inmycrosshairs: “Well, I’ve never been to Nevada or seen a wild mustang or studied the issue at all, but I think it is pretty clear that wild horses are genuine icons of the West, and that it would be best if we hunted them down and ate them.”