Fact Checker: Mustangs - Return of the Native or Invasive Species?


Fact Checker: Mustangs - Return of the Native or Invasive Species?



1) Wild horses didn't become extinct in North America and remnants of the ancient herds were still present in this hemisphere when Columbus landed in the New World in 1492.
2) Mustangs on public lands are a feral, invasive species, introduced into an environment where they are not native and should not be allowed to roam.


The two claims are at opposite extremes of an ongoing debate that surrounds the federal government's wild horse roundups in the West.
It's generally accepted that horse species evolved on the North American continent. The fossil record for equine-like species goes back nearly 4 million years. Modern horses evolved in North America about 1.7 million years ago, according to researchers at Uppsala University, who studied equine DNA. Scientists say North American horses died out between 13,000 and 10,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch, after the species had spread to Asia, Europe, and Africa.
Horses were reintroduced by the Spanish explorers in the 16th century. Animals that subsequently escaped or were let loose from human captivity are the ancestors of the wild herds that roam public lands today.
That's the theory, but revisionists point out that some sources, including the Book of Mormon and Native American cultural tradition, say horses have been continually present on the continent long after the last Ice Age. Some folks contend the original Appaloosa horses of the Nez Perce tribe, which were distinct from other horses, were a remnant of the original equines of the Americas.
Over the years, the horse extinction theory has changed.
Many scientists once thought horses died out on the continent before the arrival of the ancestors of the American Indians, but archeologists have found equine and human bones together at sites dating back to more than 10,000 years ago. The horse bones had butchering marks, indicating the animals were eaten by people, according to "Horses and Humans: The Evolution of Human-Equine Relationships," edited by Sandra L. Olsen.
So it appears that humans and horses coexisted in the New World prior to 1492, but did they continue to survive in North America over the last 100 centuries?
The claim that wild horses in America are as invasive as Asian clams in Lake Tahoe or rabbits in Australia also is made in the wild horse management debate. Some ranchers call mustangs "long-legged rats" and reader comments on RGJ stories about roundups always include opinions that the mustangs are feral interlopers and should be dealt with as vermin.
Federal law makes the argument academic.
In 1971, Congress declared wild horses and burros to be "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; (and) that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the nation and enrich the lives of the American people."
Lawmakers unanimously decided the free-roaming equines be "protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death, and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found as an integral part of the natural system of public land."
Federal officials are charged with managing the free-roaming herds to achieve an ecological balance, and disagreements about the wisdom and quality of that management is the source of current debates.


By definition, horses are North American natives because most of their evolutionary development took place on this continent. They are "native" rather than "livestock-gone-loose," because they originated here and co-evolved with the American habitat, according to Jay F. Kirkpatrick, director of the Science and Conservation Center in Billings, Mont.
DNA research by molecular biologist Ann Forsten of Uppsala University concludes the ancient horses and the modern domestic horses are the same species. That finding contradicts critics who maintain the original North American horses and the ones that were reintroduced aren't the same animals.
No one is certain why, at the end of the last Ice Age, equines vanished from the hemisphere. Theories of the cause of the extinction include drought, disease, or a result of hunting by humans.
The submergence of the Bering land bridge prevented any return migration from Asia. There's no proof any horses escaped extinction in the Americas. If horses survived in the New World up to the 15th century, then no one has ever been able to find the physical evidence to prove the theory.
But, as horse advocates maintain, modern horses evolved here and that's an adequate reason to consider them native American species, and not "invasive" or "introduced feral animals."
The horses were "reintroduced" to the continent, unlike the Asian clams in Tahoe or the rabbits of Australia, which were inserted into regions where Nature never put them and where they could disrupt the ecological balance.
Truth Meter: 1 Given what we know about the history and evolution of horses in North America, both claims are false.
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Pine Nut - Part Two

Oops! Now the BLM has decided to release the foals with their mothers after all. After a firestorm of protest of course.

But, is everything really as it seems?

Amplify’d from blog.homehorsehound.com
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Read more at blog.homehorsehound.com
Grass Roots Horse will have more info also
This mare, along with 111 other horses were rounded up yesterday in the Dayton area of the Pine Nut Range. This morning the Bureau of Land Management's plan was to release all the mares and leave all 22 foals behind. Foals were transported from the Lohanton temporary holding area to Palomino Valley Center. After public outrage plans were changed and the wet mares have been transported to Palomino Valley to match up with their foals for release early next week. Alan Bitner of the Carson BLM expressed his concern along with many community members about this mornings plan. He seemed relieved as he informed the public that the foals would not be permanently removed from their mothers. the mare before this one fell jumping off & this girl said I'm gonna make it Pine Nut while BLM says that is all the horses to be released, after they leave, another trailer shows up ! PNRELEASEleap PNrelease03 PineNut3
Posted by
7:40 PM

Read more at blog.homehorsehound.com

Report From Pine Nut - The Roundup That Wasn't Supposed To Happen!

Not only does the BLM lie and say they're NOT going to roundup any horses today, they DO round up horses and are holding 22 foals that they are NOT going to release with their mothers!

Please spread the word! Part Two coming up!
Amplify’d from blog.homehorsehound.com
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Read more at blog.homehorsehound.com

Report from Pine Nut Wild Horse Roundup VERY SERIOUS !

Last night word came that there would be no roundup of wild horses today.  BLM claimed it was a day for treating the horses with fertility drugs and the public was not allowed, since the horses were very skittish. The Pine Nut horses by all accounts are quite accustomed to people as they are very popular among the people who live nearby. BLM stated that Friday would be a release day for the 122 horses they captured yesterday. HOWEVER, it is another BLM lie. Word came while I was on the phone with Laura that the BLM was releasing horses today ! She rushed out to be there. She arrived along with other reporters with no sign yet of the BLM. She called back within a short time with very disturbing news.  There are 22 foals who were captured WHO WILL NOT BE RELEASED WITH THEIR MOTHERS.  The BLM states they "cannot match the foals to their mares" and are not even going to attempt it.  The foals have already been shipped to Palomino Valley facility.
This is an outrageous situation and please make calls to Mark Struble 775-885-6107 he is the person who has made this call and is responsible.
Laura will be sending me pictures as the situation unfolds. Please spread the word and make the calls.
Posted by

2:38 PM

Read more at blog.homehorsehound.com
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A Note From the Field

This is from Laura Leigh, the advocate GrassRootsHorse is supporting in her ongoing law suit against the BLM and their transgressions against our wild horses.
It has become obvious that the BLM is retaliating against Laura, unbelievable as this may seem. This is only the latest example. There seems to be NO level to which these people will not stoop - and our tax money is paying for it all, including their salaries.
Laura does have a Court date now. On Wednesday, November 17th, she will again be in Judge Hicks court in Reno, arguing for our horses and her - and our - Constitutional rights.
For now, however, she only wants to pick up her beautiful Mustang in peace and fairness. This is YOUR tax money at work.....
Amplify’d from horsebackmagazine.com

A Note From the Field

November 12, 2010
Story and Photo by Laura Leigh, 
Horseback Magazine Special Correspondent, 
RENO, (Horseback) – I have spent literally thousands of hours on the road trying to document the hands-on care of America’s National Treasure, the wild horse by the agency tasked by Congress to manage these beings “humanely.”
My travels have included documenting wild horses on the range, at roundups and holding facilities.
I do this work because I am passionate about the subject. These animals speak to my soul. The convoluted process that has them literally trapped both fascinates and disgusts me.
When I am at roundups, or facilities that house our horses, I may express my opinions but I am never “out-of-line.” I obey rules, no matter how ridiculous.
At the Silver King roundup I was “grabbed” hard by a beautiful Albino stallion. His gaze was riveting. When he shipped we followed him from Pioche, Nevada all the way to Gunnison Prison in Utah.
As I inquired about his adoption, to go to sanctuary with some of the others, I exchanged emails with a woman I met once.
Dona Bastian runs the BLM facility at Gunnison.
In the course of her emails to me she told me I had to make sure to tell them when I was coming to pick up the stallion. She informed me that they needed to notify SWAT.
I’m not kidding.
Here is the email:
I need a application for adoption and also payment before the animals are

picked up. Do you have an approved adoption application? I know you said

you was working on it with John Neil. Also, the pickup is by appointment

only. We have to have a clearance, and also SWAT notified in advance.

Let me know!


~* Dona *~
Dona A. Bastian

Wildhorse & Burro Specialist

Gunnison Prison Facility Manager

Utah State Office
Read more at horsebackmagazine.com
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by Annie Kimmell Mond on Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 4:42pm
Links for More Information - PLEASE SHARE WIDELY -

videos and scholarly articles at the bottom of list
Habitat for Horses  www.habitatforhorses.org 

Wild Horses Need You   www.wildhorsesneedyou.com

In Defense of Animals   www.idausa.org 

Animal Law Coalition  www.animallawcoalition.com  

American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign   www.wildhorsepreservation.com

Wild Earth Guardians (Report on fiscal costs of public lands grazing in the American West & other resources on public lands management and suggested actions to take)   www.sagebrushsea.org

Cloud Foundation   www.thecloudfoundation.org

Animal Welfare Institute   www.awionline.org

American Herds   www.americanherds.blogspot.com 

Equine Welfare Alliance   www.equinewelfarealliance.org

American Horse Defense Fund   www.ahdf.org

Saving the American Wild Horse (James Kleinert’s site/Disappointment Valley)  www.theamericanwildhorse.com

Friends of Animals  www.friendsofanimals.org

International Society for the protection of Mustangs and Burros  www.ispmb.org

Wind Dancer Foundation   http://www.wind-dancer.org/

Western Watersheds Project  www.westernwatersheds.org





The government conspiracy to eliminate wild mustangs

British Petroleum and the Ruby Pipeline



Documents reveal violations in Arizona wild horse & burro roundups

Not that this comes as a surprise to me or anyone else, but I just keep wondering why no one in authority anywhere ever lifts a finger to stop it.

Very strange indeed...

Amplify’d from www.sonorannews.com


BLM horse and burro gathering

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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently gathered and removed from their homes near Yuma an anticipated one hundred wild burros. The fate of wild horses and burros is tragic.  My attorneys and I recently reviewed several thousand documents provided by the Arizona Game and Fish Department under the Arizona Public Records Law.
Of the records we reviewed, we are obtaining copies that provide evidence of the following:
  1. The United States Forest Service (USFS) in Apache Sitgreaves National Forests failed to honor its commitment in a stipulated agreement in the US Federal Court to work cooperatively with plaintiffs, including myself, in preparing a management strategy for protected wild horses found in the Forests.  The USFS has, however, worked very closely with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) on this issue even though the AGFD has only very limited authority under cooperative agreements with the USFS.  The only agency who has Federal authority is the USFS
  1. AGFD is pushing to obtain even more autonomous control over removal of wild horses and burros in areas where Game and Fish feels the BLM is moving too slowly, even though the AGFD has no jurisdiction under the federal Wild Horse and Burro Act and only limited input under cooperative agreements with federal agencies.

  1. The Director of AGFD used his position and time paid by Arizona taxpayers to lobby to get a person appointed to the national Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Counsel who is notoriously anti-wild horse and burro and used his position and time to enlist others to write letters of support for this person. 

  1. A company owned by a man who was indicted by a federal grand jury on a felony for hunting wild horses from the air has been active gathering wild burros in Arizona.  This person was indicted on a felony but was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser misdemeanor thus allowing the man’s company to continue to work for the BLM and other federal agencies.  Pictures of helicopters very close to wild horses and burros they are gathering are available at the following link: http://conquistadorprogram.org/blm_begins_gather_of_burros_near_yuma
At least one eyewitness account is available from an ecologist of the helicopters actually touching the animals as they drive them for miles.  How would you survive being driven by a helicopter for 10 miles or more in 100-degree heat?
My question is why such a vehement effort to remove wild horses and burros from Arizona ranges they have lived in peacefully since the Spanish arrived in the 16th century? 

Certainly, pictures of the animals and forage show that no one is starving.  The AGFD, BLM and USFS argue that the horses and burros are depleting forage but historical documents clearly show that the horses and burros have been here for hundreds of years and everyone did just fine.  I am happy to provide a list of references of these documents to anyone who might be interested.  If you want your heart torn out, watch the video of little burros driven for miles by helicopters and crying out when they are separated from their families or watch the video of wild horses driven for miles, sometimes with their babies, until they almost drop.  The historical documents indicate that there was a very peaceful

co-existence of wild horses and burros with everyone else until the early 1930’s when federal agencies took over grazing rights and “management” of wild horses and burros.
The wild horses and burros of Arizona go back to the early explorers including Coronado and Father Eusebio Kino.  They are a precious natural resource.  Many scholars even show evidence that these kind and gentle creatures date back to prehistoric times.  Is the federal government’s quest for grazing lease money or energy so great that it will jeopardize our children’s right to see a magnificent wild horse whose ancestors may have carried Coronado, Father Kino or legendary cavalry officer General George Crook or to see a wild burro herd with their close family ties in the wild?  When is enough, just enough?
Patricia Haight, Ph.D., The Conquistador Equine Rescue and Advocacy Program and guardian of four Peruvian horses: 4715 N. Black Canyon Hwy, #1019, Phoenix, AZ 85015. Telephone:  490-430-4011. Online: www.conquistadorprogram.org.Read more at www.sonorannews.com

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