In the Desert
What to look for
Content including photographs are Copyright © 2015 - Present - Don & Linda Gilmore
Links to both government and private
Some facts and questions you should be aware of.
When growing up as a kid we never gave a second thought to wild horses, except maybe in the movies, (like Flicka) or some of the old western films shot in the desert. Even in our younger years, unless you grew up on a ranch, did many of us think about these wild animals? They have slowly worked their way into our consiousness as a "Symbol of the Amercian West". The animals that now roam in the desert southwest were mostly left here by the early Spanish explorers that visited this continent. If you've never seen a wild horse in the desert, when you do you'll be in for a real treat. They are beautiful animals.
A symbol of the American West
There is a very serious debate raging about the capture and removal of these animals. They are not native animals and to some this is reason enough to remove them. To others, they think that the wild horses are destroying the habitat that is necessary for the survival of their cattle and sheep in the desert and surrounding mountains. There are others that feel that their removal is unjust and should stop. We'd like to present you with some facts so you can make a decision on your own about the future of these animals.
A look at some of these beautiful wild horses
photographed in different states in the desert.
All the wild horses we've seen in the desert southwest look to be very healthy animals. None we've seen look to be hurting for food. Which brings up an interesting point - see (*) below.
(*) How much do wild horses eat? If you compared them to a single cow or a single sheep? Do they eat more or less? We can't seem to find any facts or studies done on this particular question.
In 2014 the BLM collected $12,117,000 in grazing fees for 16 Western states. See the linked page on BLM Grazing.
In 2014 the BLM collected $1.35 per AUM (AUM is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for one month). So what does this mean, if you divide $12,117.000 by $1.35 you'll find that there must have been 8,975.555 cattle, goats, horses, or sheep on the BLM range. That's almost 9 million.
Data compiled as of March 1, 2014 the BLM estimates that 49,209 wild horses and burros (approximately 40,815 were horses and 8,394 were burros) were roaming on BLM managed rangelands in 10 Western states.
If these figures are correct, take a wild guess who's eating all the forage on the rangelands in the Western states. Cattle and sheep ranchers complain about the horses eating all the forage and drinking all the water available, but this may not be the reason for them wanting to remove the horses. Let's face it there are organizations, some linked below, that don't want to see any removal of wild horses, because of the cruetly involved and the break up of horse families. If they have their way, then the ranchers will lose grazing land if they cut back cattle and sheep allotments to keep the horses healthy. I'm sure they know the horses are not eating up all the forage that the cattle / sheep need. They don't want to loose the grazing rights. Is this the truth? We certainly don't know, but you can decide for yourself.
The government has tasked the BLM with protecting the wild horse and Burro herds, under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. There are over 40,000 horses in the wild and over 48,000 horses and burros in holding pens as of Feb, 2015 according to the BLM. They are up for adoption. But as the numbers show us this is not a reality, as only a small number are adopted every year (in 2014 only 2,173 animals were adopted). More info here on the BLM Web Site. Tax payers are paying to take care of and feed all those captured horses.
BLM, USGS Web Site LInks:
BLM Fact Sheet on Management of Livestock HERE
NOTICE: we are not cattle / sheep ranchers, horse owners, or work for the BLM. This was presented here as an informational article with LINKS so you can make an educated decision on your own.
BLM Wild Horse/Burro Removal & Fertility Treatment Schedule HERE
BLM Data on Wild Horses and Burros HERE
Organizations against Wild Horse Removal - Web Site LInks:
American Wild Horse Preservation HERE
The Cloud Foundation HERE
NBC News - Cruel or Necessary HERE
Love Wild Horses HERE
Wild Horse Conspiracy HERE
American Wild Horse Round-ups HERE
Counting Wild Horses and Burros HERE
There is an ongoing debate about the above figures (over 40,000 wild horses), some groups say there are less than 20,000 wild horses. Fact or fiction? There is a link above that states that the BLM figures are estimates and they are trying to improve their method of counting. Please see all the links above to make a decision on your own. We've spent a lot of time in the desert and the mountains surrounding the desert and we'd find it hard to justify anybody's count as correct (or exact). Too many places in the trees in the hills for them to hide.