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Herding the Survivors

Hannah Watros, Contributor

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During the 1950s a woman named Velma Johnston realized the horrible reality of how the nations wild horse population was being treated. People who were referred to as Mustangers were the real problem. They would harvest the wild animals for commercial usage while treating them like they were worthless. Velma, also now known as Wild Horse Annie, led a campaign that she hoped would make a difference in the way the herd populations were being treated.

That campaign ended up all the way to congress which resulted in the 1959 passage of “The Wild Horse Annie Act.” By the early 70’s the wild horse population was still declining so a new act was established called, “Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act,” which was meant to provide protecting, management and control for the wild horses and burros in our country. Since 1971 the act has been revised a total of four times. The BLM program is said to follow this act but many are against the practices of this program for many different reasons.

On the BLM website it reads: “The goal of the Wild Horse and Burro Program is to ensure healthy wild horses and burros on thriving public rangelands, using all available management tools under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.”  Many wonder why there is even a need for programs like this still in today’s society. The United States primarily doesn’t eat horse meat.  The nation does not use anything from the horses like their leather or bones so why would anyone worry about them? People love money. There is no doubt about that. These wild animals are seen as targets whether it is by kill buyers (someone who captures, buys or kills horses to send to other countries for consumptions/usage)  or just local ranchers who don’t want the horses on their land for whatever reason. Their population numbers are still going down. In 1900, the nation had around 20 million wild horses roaming our land. In 2005, the wild horse population was down to 82,000.

The country has had a decline in the population that wants to farm or have large animals. Buildings and pavement is taking over leaving even less land for the horses to roam around on so the BLM program incorporates herd management. The Bueros website says: “The BLM is responsible for determining and maintaining appropriate management levels (AML) for each herd and works to achieve that population target through a variety of management processes, including limiting reproduction in some herds through the use of birth control and gathers that remove excess animals from the range.” Another option for limiting herd numbers is the adoption program which allows civilians to adopt a wild horse that is completely untrained. The bureau was made to ensure our nation protects what we have.

 

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About the Writer
Hannah Watros, Contributor

My family is most important to me. I'm passionate about animals and hope to one day work with them. My dog and my horse are basically my kids.

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Herding the Survivors