The Bureau of Land Management should never be allowed to arbitrarily select wild horse herds for roundup and slaughter. The BLM was created by wealthy ranchers and other power brokers for their own purposes. Initially, it was for the roundup and sale of cattle, followed by the roundup of wild horses, which were frequently slaughtered.
This practice continues to this day, evidenced by the roundup of the West Douglas herd, which is currently taking place without allowing timely input from the public, who legally own these public lands. This means the public is legally entitled to have major input on this decision, as well as sufficient time for responses.
Powerful grazing associations across Wyoming and Colorado have systematically eliminated all impediments to their acquisitions of public land. Cattle drives used slaves, cattle barons threatened and subjugated Native Americans, and settlers who came west looking for a better life. All fell prey to the wealthy, fast-growing cattle industry. In controlling all these grazing lands, the cattle barons controlled the cattle herds, and thus, the money that came from the sale and slaughter of these cattle.
Unfortunately, the federal government approved of these practices, because they generated more money for the government as well. Consequently, the cattle industry absolutely wanted the government to control and regulate the use of public lands. Hence the creation of the Bureau of Land Management, which was never created to allow the public to control their own lands.
The next impediment to this land control has become the wild horses who manage to survive in this wilderness. Instead of being a symbol of the great American west, and left alone to survive on their own, they have now become targets of this land acquisition. They are rounded up, transported to places where they have very little chance of survival, and then slaughtered. The myth of having them adopted is just that—a coverup of the fact that the BLM doesn’t even keep track of their whereabouts.
Horses have always been an integral part of the nation’s growth, used for traversing vast distances during the western expansion, as well as for farming, mail delivery, and sadly, instruments of war. They have helped us in numerous ways, and they are as important as every animal who lives on our public lands.
Using the excuse that they are putting a “strain” on the ecosystem is a noxious argument. We put the worst strain of all on the planet. Horses should be protected and preserved, not slaughtered. The BLM is doing a disservice to us all. If they truly are the “managers” of our public lands, the BLM must protect these horses. This agency is at a crossroads now. Does it protect our lands for the benefit of all the creatures that inhabit them, and the public who cares about them, or does it bow to the wishes of the rich and powerful? The West Douglas horse herd is now the lynchpin.
Don Moore, D.
Special to The Herald Times
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