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Know the West

Wild horses do us good


As a wildlife ecologist, I did two in-field investigations and reports on the Salt River herd and its habitat in 2012 and 2015 (“Arizona’s Wild Horse Paradox,” HCN, 3/18/19). These involved interviews, ecological transects and literature review. Based on my findings, I believe that Debbie Weingarten is overlooking much of the greater truth about these horses, their history and their contributions to this unique ecosystem. The article’s most outrageous falsehood is the claim that the horse is not native to North America. Abundant fossil and meticulous genetic proofs exist showing that Equus caballus had its origin and evolution in North America. As post-gastric digesters, horses are needed to balance and complement ruminant herbivores such as cattle, sheep and deer. They also transport vital nutrients from the river into the surrounding Sonoran desert’s many plants and animals. Admired by thousands for their special natural beauty and harmony, Arizona’s Salt River mustangs do a world of good. Yet they are being denied adequate resources, space, and habitat to become truly viable in the long-term.

Craig Carpenter Downer
Author, The Wild Horse Conspiracy
Minden, Nevada