Hanick: The facts on wild horses
Ryan Summerlin April 22, 2013
Re: “Wild Horses: Too Much of A Good Thing?” column, by Andrew Gulliford, April 20
I differ with Andrew Gulliford on several points. Many of his facts are inaccurate or not current.
Wild horses were designated as “wild” by the 1971 Wild and Free Roaming Act: P.L. 92-195 – not “feral” (a derogatory word attached to wild horses in the earlier 20th century by those that wanted to remove all of them, as had been done to the bison because all roamed on the land that early ranchers deemed theirs to graze livestock).
Since 1971, 1/3 of the public land designated for wild horses has been removed. Wild horse population does not double every 4 years. USGS located here in Ft. Collins, CO, has completed several research projects with wild horses in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. Their research finds a 10-15% increase each year – taking into consideration documented deaths. “Doubling every 4 years” has been a statistic used by the BLM since the 1940s. There are presently 53,000 wild horses in long and short term holding facilities. The largest short term facility is here in Colorado at the Canon City Prison where 3000 wild horses live in pens. Most long-term facilities are in the Midwest – Oklahoma and Kansas.
There are fewer than 30,000 wild horses left in the wild today, less than any time in history. Government-subsidized welfare ranching on our public lands for corporate ranching has made wild horses the expendable part of the equation of public land usage.
Many wildlife ecologists differ with Andrew’s opinion – the biggest degradation to wildlife on our public lands today is due to gas exploration and coal mining. The few wild horses left make little imprint on public lands. I encourage all to learn more about this from Biodiversity Conservation Alliance and The Cloud Foundation.
Linda Hanick, Estes Park