Don’t scapegoat the horses

 

Debbie Weingarten’s cover piece depicts the conflict over the Salt River wild horses and the mythology of wild horses as symbols of an unbridled West (HCN, 3/18/19). But in venturing further afield, the article echoes destructive myths about America’s free-roaming wild equines. Overpopulation is not “a real problem.” The Bureau of Land Management and the cattle industry promote this myth to justify the goal of reducing the wild horse population to less than 27,000, nearly the same population that spurred Congress to pass the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, to keep wild horses from “fast disappearing from the West.” Today, publicly subsidized livestock outnumber wild horses 37 to one. This is managing to extinction. There are numerous ways wild horses can be kept safe and free on the land lawfully designated as theirs to roam. A good start would be restoring the 22 million acres of wild horse habitat the BLM unilaterally “zeroed out” to make more room for cattle and extractive industries. It’s time that HCN gave wild horses a fair shake instead of scapegoating them.

Charlotte Roe
Berthoud, Colorado

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