Scapegoats on the range
It is clear to me that it is time for HCN to do a meaningful update on the wild horses and burros (HCN, 4/12/10). There is solid science that supports wild equids as having evolved on this continent and nowhere else. On Feb. 12, 2009, Jay F. Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., and Patricia M. Fazio, Ph.D., testified before Congress about the wild vs. feral argument. Please see their statement, "Wild Horses as Native North American Wildlife."
This issue is about more than just wild horses. In the larger sense, it's a democracy issue: agency abuse of power, lack of transparency and accountability, fiscal irresponsibility and mismanagement at the expense of the taxpayer, the huge federal subsidies being doled out to special industry groups at the expense of everything else, and we the "amorphous public" trying to have a voice in what rightfully belongs to us, what we pay for and how it is managed.
The wild horses and burros, in spite of their evolutionary importance and historical contribution to this continent, are the scapegoats for everything that is wrong on the Western ranges. The wild horses and burros share their range with livestock that outnumber them 200 to 1. The lack of scientifically sound habitat assessments and census monitoring has resulted in wild horse and burro herds being reduced to and managed at below what wildlife biologists deem to be genetically viable.
We are asking for a moratorium on all wild horse and burro roundups until congressional hearings can be held to bring about the necessary legislation and enforcement safeguards to protect the animals, protect their rangeland from commercial degradation, and mandate that sensible, fiscally responsible management practices are put into place.
Lyn McCormick, High Noon Horse Farm
Fort Collins, Colorado