A tale of two BLM mascots

Johnny Horizon and Seymour Antelope show the agency's changing focus.

 

Revelers in Phoenix for the 2015 Super Bowl likely expected to see Blitz, the muscular blue bird that is the Seattle Seahawks’ mascot, along with Pat Patriot, the war-hero symbol of the rival New England Patriots. 

But they weren’t prepared for the shorts-wearing pronghorn handing out bookmarks in front of a desert backdrop.

“People would say: ‘What is this? Who are you?’ We’d say, ‘This is Seymour Antelope. He’s the mascot of the Bureau of Land Management,’ “ recalls BLM spokesman Dennis Godfrey.

Forty years ago, then-BLM mascot Johnny Horizon was a fairly well-known presence; With his cowboy hat and rugged good looks, Johnny inspired a nationwide litter-cleanup campaign and all manner of consumer goods before quietly retiring in the late ’70s. Seymour emerged in 2008, when BLM New Mexico adopted him as a local mascot. In 2010, the agency made the ungulate the face of its youth programs nationwide — the closest thing to a mascot that it now has.

Johnny Horizon nodded to the BLM’s old guard of miners and ranchers even as the agency entered a new era of environmental concern. Seymour was born in another transitional period, as the BLM was given management of new national monuments, partly to infuse the agency with conservation values. If Seymour sticks around, it may be a clue that those values, too, have stuck — even as the BLM’s multiple-use mission becomes more complex than ever. 

Photo: Seymour the Antelope high fives children at the Iditarod Ceremonial Start and Running of the Reindeer in 2012.