Feral Horses

New coalition seeks science-based solutions for embattled BLM program
Phil Taylor, E&E reporter
Published: Tuesday, June 11, 2013
It's not often that livestock growers, hunters and wildlife advocates find common ground on natural resource issues, but the Bureau of Land Management's wild horse and burro program is one case in point.
Beginning in February, a diverse coalition including the Wildlife Society, National Cattlemen's Beef Association and National Wildlife Refuge Association joined forces to lobby BLM to strike a balance between wild horses and the native fish, wildlife and plants on public rangelands.
The 13-member National Horse and Burro Rangeland Management Coalition also includes the National Rifle Association, the National Association of Conservation Districts and BLM's main retirees group, the Public Lands Foundation.
Individually, each group has a stake in how BLM manages the estimated 38,000 wild horses and burros roaming some 10 Western states. But collectively, they say they now have a stronger voice.
"People were willing to put their own organizations' politics aside to focus on important issues," said Terra Rentz, deputy director for government affairs at the Wildlife Society and chairwoman of the coalition.
While the groups have diverse -- and, at times, conflicting -- core missions, they share in common a desire to maintain rangeland biodiversity, working landscapes and science-based decision making.
The group last week backed the main findings of a National Academy of Sciences study on BLM's wild horse program, which called for active management of herds through fertility control, more accurate population estimates and greater transparency with the public.
But the coalition is entering a volatile fray -- one dominated by groups pushing a more laissez-faire approach to wild horses. Wild horse advocates have long blamed BLM for unfairly favoring livestock grazing at the expense of wild horses.
The wild horse and burro program has been one of BLM's most controversial.
The agency is tasked by law to remove horses when herds get too large -- which threatens native species and forage for livestock -- but is routinely sued or hounded by wild horse advocates who argue the agency is removing too many horses or neglecting their welfare.
Larger grass-roots groups including the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign have enlisted the support of celebrities including Carole King, Robert Redford and Betty White. The group last week said the NAS report is grounds for an "immediate halt" to the roundup and removal of wild horses.
In rare cases when horses are injured or killed during roundups, advocates post videos on YouTube, sparking sensational news stories and reigniting raw emotions.
It's a difficult political atmosphere for groups with opposing views, Rentz said.
"In the context of wild horse and burro management, it's pretty volatile," she said. "Here's a species that is loved by all Americans, but we have environment that didn't evolve with it."
Rentz's coalition argues that wild horses are a non-native species and should be managed according to "the land's scientifically proven capability to accommodate a variety of uses," including livestock grazing.
The coalition hopes to provide political room for lawmakers to get involved.
"Whenever we introduce the group to new agency officials or members of Congress, we see them get this look of relief," Rentz said. "We don't want them to back policies that will hurt them politically, but we want them to have the support they need to make the right choices for appropriate management."
The coalition is currently partnering with the National Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy, and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, each of which holds broad bipartisan appeal in Congress.
Desiree Sorenson-Groves, vice president of government affairs for the National Wildlife Refuge Association, a founding member of the coalition, said her group initially got involved because of wild horse issues at the Sheldon and Hart national wildlife refuges in Nevada and at Currituck National Wildlife Refuge on the North Carolina coast.
Feral horses that wander onto Currituck can trample native habitat important to endangered piping plovers and loggerhead sea turtles, the group said, likening the herd to invasive kudzu vine and Burmese pythons.
The House last week passed a bill requiring the Fish and Wildlife Service to allow more horses at Currituck to increase genetic diversity, despite opposition from the agency, NWRA, the Wildlife Society, Defenders of Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited and other groups.
The horses, which have roamed the North Carolina shore for centuries, are a prime tourist attraction. The Senate recently put the bill on a potential fast track to passage.
Sorenson-Groves said her group is also concerned with BLM's horses spilling over onto refuge lands. She said dialogue with wild horse advocacy groups is critical.
"It's a super-complex issue, and there's no magic solution," she said. "But if we don't start a meaningful dialogue with folks who think horse populations should be unchecked, we are in for a world of hurt as these populations explode."

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Wild Horses

YUP, this does not surprise me, in what these so called helpful little trolls will do with our Wild Horses, this group of individual's really only care about getting rid of the horses this so called ORG. is just another cover up for Pro Slaughter just read this article and it validates this...

WHY I ask myself>>>> just unbelievable how some of our society is so into their own concern's what ever they may be that they would say and do anything to gain what ever their agenda is!!! SO disgraceful...

OH by the way wild horses ARE Native Species you all better do some more homework but go ahead keep spilling propaganda
typical.... FLY ROD & REEL this is great, unreal....

"Native Species"

First, there are no “wild horses.”  There are only feral livestock--the vast majority escaped or abandoned or their recent issue.  “Wild horses ARE Native Species.”  Yeah, sure--if your “homework” includes reading the personal fantasies of whacko, non-peer-reviewed, pseudo scientists whose names do not appear the registry of certified wildlife biologists.  If feral, European horses are “native,” so are African elephants, cheetahs and camels.  Their relatives were also part of North America’s Ice Age megafauna. 

Wild Horses

This makes no sense. The horses have been here just as long as we have maybe even longer. They have survived along with the other animals for hundreds of years with no problem or intervention of humans. I see no need for us to interfere now. I'd like to know how we know these horses are not native and only came ashore off of shipwrecks or the settlers I feel pretty sure some of them were already here as were the Native Americans. Maybe we, meaning all of us who are decendsants of the settlers are the real invasive species.

Feral Horsesres

In response to "Native Species"; I have to ask at what point does an animal or plant become native? The North Carolina Corolla horses are direct descendants of the horses brought over by the Spanish Conquistadors in the early 16th century. They are related to the Spanish Mustang often referred to as the "Colonial Spanish Mustang" which are now considered an endangered species as there are less than 4000 left, mostly as domesticated animals.
They should never be referred to, or lumped in with the Feral horses managed by the BLM, as those horses have been tainted with other breeds that have carelessly been let loose by owners who could not longer feed their animals.
These magnificent animals are now be pushed out of their native habitat to make room for developments for the benefit of man. If Ted William is so concerned about the species that are being harmed maybe a bill to reduce the number of beach front homes would alleviate the need for conservation.

Become a Biology Buff

HistoryBuff: I hope you will also become a biology buff.  If you do, you will understand that nothing that humans superimpose on habitat where it doesn’t belong “becomes native.”  All “wild horses,” as they are wrongly called, are indeed feral.  There is no “native” horse habitat in the U.S.  Asian bittersweet has been here since the 18th century.  That doesn’t make it “native.”

It Makes Perfect Sence

The fact that horses have been here just as long as we have doesn’t make them “native,” not does it reduce their devastating impact on native wildlife habitat.  And what you call “Native Americans” are no more “native” than we are.  They just got here earlier.  Finally, why do you imaging that the fact that we are “invasive” means feral horses are not?

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