Even if the NAS were to tell the BLM to cease and desist rounding up these horses, suggest an on-the-range-management plan, and the BLM actually implements such a plan-which I'll believe when I see it-are enough herds left that are genetically viable enough to secure these horses' future? Not if the BLM can possibly prevent it, no there will not be enough left with large enough gene pools to survive long term. This was the whole idea after all. If it weren't, the BLM would STOP the roundups until the study was completed. Instead, they are moving at an ever increasing pace to eradicate the horses before someone steps up and stops them.
The NAS can criticize the BLM's management practices for the last 40 years to their hearts' content, and it won't bother the BLM at all. If the horses are gone, they're gone, and not all the hindsight in the world will bring them back.
So, I have a question. The report below has been around for quite a while, and I want to know why it seems to have been completely ignored by the BLM, and everyone else for that matter. Why wasn't this enough to at least consider stepping back-just temporarily!-to look at the other options that have always been at the BLM's discretion.
Shall I answer my own question or is there any need?
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Wild Horses -- National Academy of Science field studies do not support the majority of claims that wild horses damage the environment. Responsible advocates understand that areas suffering from verified overpopulation are a different matter. Alberta's wild horses endure a relatively low survival rate among foals. The climate is challenging and predators are abundant.
Cows have no upper front teeth, only a thick pad: they graze by wrapping their long tongues around grass and pulling on it. If the ground is wet, they will pull out the grass by the roots, preventing it from growing back. Horses have both upper and lower incisors and graze by "clipping the grass," similar to a lawn mower, allowing the grass to easily grow back.
In addition, the horse’s digestive system does not thoroughly degrade the vegetation it eats. As a result, it tends to “replant” its own forage with the diverse seeds that pass through its system undegraded. This unique digestive system greatly aids in the building up of the absorptive, nutrient-rich humus component of soils. This, in turn, helps the soil absorb and retain water upon which many diverse plants and animals depend. In this way, the wild horse is also of great value in reducing dry inflammable vegetation in fire-prone areas. Back in the 1950s, it was primarily out of concern over brush fires that Storey County, Nevada, passed the first wild horse protection law in the United States.
Rangeland Management: Improvements Needed in Federal Wild Horse Program RCED-90-110 August 20, 1990
Public Land Management: Observations on Management of Federal Wild Horse Program T-RCED-91-71 June 20, 1991
Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros: Final Report. Committee on Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros, Board on Agriculture and Renewable Resources, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington D.C., 1982