Thursday, May 21, 2009

BLM~ Friend Or Foe?


I get the question a lot. "Why does the BLM feel they need to round up those horses? I see fat horses running wild in photos, and skinny horses in corrals."

And you know...sometimes that's true. Take, for example, the mare and foal above. If I were to tell you to compare that mare with the horses you see below, you'd be aghast. And people who love to hate the BLM won't give you a lick of information other than that.


The truth is, that mare was part of an emergency gather last fall. Originally slated to be brought in were the South Steens horses. But a quick change was made when it was apparent that the Coyote Lakes/Alvord Tule and Sheepshead horses were going into the winter with relatively little flesh on their bones. Mares were giving all they had to their foals and with severe drought conditions in their area, the chances of survival through the winter were not nearly as good as those mares in South Steens, pictured above.

So yes, sometimes you'll see thin horses at the holding facilities. But sometimes you see them at rescue facilities, too. Best to find the story behind the photos.

Next question is always, "Why do they let the ranchers use our public lands? If they just stopped letting the cattle graze it down, the horses would have enough to survive!"


Wrong again, Grasshopper. First off, cattle ranchers have had contracts long before the wild horses were protected. That's not going to change, so we need to just move on and consider a new solution. Why? Well, because the ranchers are only allotted so much time on the range anyway. Plus, when wild herds multiply at the rate of 100% every four years, the 33,000 that are out there now will be 420,000. In four years! Go ahead, move all the cattle and sheep off, but you're still going to be stuck with the same problem. Too many horses, not enough grazing land.

From where I sit, the folks at the BLM have an impossible job. They're stuck between two entities that each have extremely vocal members. It's important to remember that BLM stands for Bureau of Land Management...they manage the grasslands and ranges with the goal of always having enough forage for all who use it. Horses are not native, nor are cattle or sheep. Keeping things at a healthy level for native wildlife is of primary importance, and it's a constant balancing act when you've got to factor in what the public also wants. Unfortunately, we the people struggle to be united in this war of the rangelands.


I can honestly say there's not a simple solution. Many of the people I've gotten to know who work for the BLM in Oregon & Washington with the horses have a real passion for them. But like any organization, there will be those who are passionate and those who are in it for the money (aka, paycheck.) Take the thoroughbred industry; some folks love the horse, others love the win, race, show, and whatever happens to the horse is just a figure on their bottom line. There's good and bad in the mix, no matter where you go in the horse industry. It's not just a BLM issue. If it were, you wouldn't see so many horses neglected and starving, and rescues wouldn't be filled to the brim with domestic bred animals.

What it all boils down to, at least for me, is standing outside the fence and hollering that things need to change is unacceptable. If you want change, come on inside. Volunteer to put up posters for an adoption. Post a link from your blog or add a signature to your email. Consider adopting a mustang for yourself, or sponsoring one at a rescue. Join a mustang organization such as AMBA. Make yourself accessible.

You know, a month or so I ago I'd absolutely had it with being spammed here by Madeleine Pickens. Oh, it probably wasn't her, just one of her trolls. Here she sits, money to burn, yet she wanted a contract and to be paid by the BLM to offer the horses a home. Good grief...that's what they're doing now! Any of you who's ever adopted or donated has done more to help the plight of the mustang than Madeleine has done. She can afford to take a couple thousand horses and have cash left over, while many of us pour every last cent into a horse or two and wear second hand jeans so we can afford it.

Okay, now I'm rambling. Hopefully knowing just how passionate I am about my mustangs will help you realize that I wouldn't be sitting here defending gathers and range management if I didn't think it needed to be done. Those that I know are a great group of folks. They rejoice when there's a successful adoption, cry when there's a life lost, and admire the spirit within. Basically, they're just like us.



18 comments:

froglander said...

Wonderful post Tracey.

I think that is one thing that people miss seeing the most, the rate at which wild horse populations can increase!

Tracey said...

Thank you, Frog! It's really difficult to fathom, isn't it? Although I made a mistake...four to five years to double size, TWENTY years to get to that half million horses number. Still, that's a huge amount of horses in a pretty short span of time.

mkyamse said...

What an interesting prespective! I hope you don't mind. I am putting a link to today's blog on my site.

Tracey said...

It's kind of like the five blind men and the elephant, eh? Depends on where you're standing as to what part of the elephant you're going to feel. And certainly do link; it's important to see things from different view points if we're going to learn.

mkyamse said...

That's a funny way of putting it! Never heard that before...

Tracey said...

Really? Five blind men were put alongside an elephant and told to describe it. One felt the trunk, one a tusk, one a leg, one the elephant's side, and one his tail.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I'm glad you did this post. I've never quite understood why some people feel the BLM is bad. I visit a branch that's a two-hour drive away every once in while and watch them process the mustangs after a round up in order to educate myself. I'm not talking about horse slaughter. I'm talking about how they brand and vaccinate all the horses, separate out the mares from the stallions so that they can't keep breeding, and then feed them for the rest of their lives. There is no simple solution.

Paint Girl said...

Thank you for the very informative post! I also could never understand why people were so harsh about the BLM, I mean, they can only do so much, with so many horses, right? Some people just think it is so easy and if they were in charge, than everything would be just great, but that is not how it goes.
I love your passion for the mustang! It's people like you that make a difference!

HBFG said...

Great post! Very informative, thank you! I like the way you think about this matter. Seems to me that you are a very "down to earth" person. Great Blog!! :))

Angie at Free Rein said...

Very good as always...it's the same way here with the wild ponies on the outer banks. They sometimes nearly starve in the winter, on Shakelford Island especially. I watched Nights in Rodanthe - finally this week- and at the end when the ponies ran down the beach I had to laugh - all fat, groomed and gorgeous! We wish.

CTG Ponies said...

What a great post! I really admire all that you do for the Mustangs.

KD said...

Found your blog through a mustang loving friend of mine here in North Florida. The mustangs are in a tough place and need folks like you to be a rational voice for them. I admire people like you and my friend here in Jax who helps mustangs one horse at a time, however she can, whether it's training and rehoming or just posting and keeping us informed.

Pony Girl said...

Thanks for the informative post. I think one of your points that hit home for me is that the BLM is not the "Bureau of Loving Mustangs." In other words, it is a land management (grasses and such, as you said) yet as horse people, we associate it with Mustangs (or at least I kind of did, loosely! :)

Blackfeatherfarm said...

Great informative and intelligent post. It is so easy to get all worked up and emotional when dealing with these things. I have come to realize you have to shelve emotion, and let logic and realistic thinking rule your brain to find solutions to these problems. Getting all over the BLM does not help. Good post.

Gecko said...

Thankyou for posting this Tracey, I think a lot of people tend to find it easier, and perhaps more 'fun' to over-react and have something to stamp their feet about, rather than investigating what is actually going on. Recently I've been noticing how many people around the area, myself included, say "I'm going to write a letter!!" but nothing eventuates from that sentence.

I agree 100% that if you want to complain about something, shut your trap and let your actions speak louder than your misdirected words.

Anonymous said...

Please do some fact checking on your numbers. You imply that there are no predators for wild horses with your statement that the horses "muliply at a rate of 100%". 1/3 of all foals born end up as prey for mountain lions. Additionally, the BLM has no idea how many horses are on the range.

Tracey said...

Anon (nice name), I said they double every 4 to 5 years, not yearly. I did correct my original number in the second comment made here. My numbers are correct...20 years and we'll have a half million horses. Except that many will begin to die of starvation before that. Some will say that's just natures way, but I say we put the horses out there to begin with, so why are we so cruel to allow that?

I'd like to ask you, if the BLM has no idea how many horses are out there, how is it you know that 1/3 of the foals are killed by mountain lions?

My point, again, today and always, is that there are no easy answers.

Meagan said...

The blm is a bunch of bull shit. they take them saying their starving and about to die and then sell the land to cattle ranchers. You want to know why they hire volunteers... to make more money. they get money from the land and selling the horses and not having to pay the volunteers. $$$$$$$$ that is all the government wants. Scruu them. they were here before us running free. Heres a message from me leave the dam mustangs alone. Ilive in colorado right where this bullshit goes on and it is not preety.