The National Academy of Science Field Studies-Environmental Effects of Wild Horses

Now the BLM is asking for an "independent study" on their management practices by the National Academy of Science, supposedly to start on January 1, 2011. Well, why not. After the BLM finishes their blitz on the horses this year, there won't be enough horses left in the wild to worry about. 

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


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  1. Hmm.. I wonder what they didn't want us to see behind the sheets that were placed on the fences.
    It's just heartbreaking to see the babies limping around, laying on hard ground instead of wild, laying in the tall grass.

    I fear you are right that the BLM will eradicate as many horses as they can find before the study starts. Big surprise....Business as usual and the Bureau of Liars and Murderers..


"From my earliest memories, I have loved horses with a longing beyond words." ~ Robert Vavra