Thursday, February 18, 2010

Yet Another Contraversy-Wild Mustangs American Heritage

Today, at least 3 million cattle graze on the same public lands where Mustangs make their living and less than 25,000 Mustangs IE: ONE wild animal for every 200 cattle. Who or what is driving the Mustang removal for the good of them or for the good of cattle ranchers who pay next to zero for grazing rights on public land? Mustang "collection" is tax subsidized. During the last eight years, about 75,000 wild horses have been taken from the land or three times the current population. 34 million acres of public land managed by the BLM supporting 25,000 or less wild horses or 1 wild horse for every 1,360 acres. In England, 140,000 acres of New Forest supports 3,000 New Forest Ponies or 1 pony for every 50 acres. Here are a couple of links you might be interested in reading. Wild Mustang Coalition and Wild Horse Investigation Team . Frankly, I found some of this quite alarming. Now, don't get me wrong.........I'm all for keeping it reasonable and I think that the Mustang Heritage Foundation does an awesome job with the Mustang Makeover Challenges that allow people to gentle and train a certain amount of these horses to be adopted out is a good thing, but what for the number of horses that aren't adopted or even picked up for the challenge, yet are rounded up and stuffed in holding pens. In 1998, The BLM published the following figure for wild horses sustainable on public land, 44,495 wild horses. What has changed since 1998? The number of cattle allowed to graze on public lands. Stephen found this blog out there and I found it interesting and moving.......Life At The Rough String Ranch. Have a read, they have posted a very moving video.


Grey Horse Matters said...

There's so much more going on with the BLM that I could ever respond with. One of the best blogs around who is reporting on everything that's happening is Golden Days. I don't have the link off hand but she's very good at letting everyone know what's going on. I also check out the Cloud Foundation blog where there is lots of information too for anyone interested. It's a travesty what they are doing to these horses. They are wiping them out to the point of extinction. There's lots of reasons why, and none of them is because the horses are starving. That's a lot of bull.

Jean said...

Every time I see pictures of the wild herds, the horses look well fed and healthy, so the argument that they are starving is bogus to me.

It's frustrating to think of the horses being mercilessly driven into holding pens the way they are, just for the sake of what? I too think it's motivated by the cattlemen.

JeniQ said...

I tend to stay quiet in these subjects because it's an area I'm not educated in. I've only begun to start investigating this, but what I'm learning and seeing is heart breaking to say the least. Heart breaking and enraging.

Katharine Swan said...

You'll get no argument from me on this one, Callie! The BLM is obviously protecting the cattle ranchers, not the mustangs. The notion that the land is "overpopulated" is ludicrous. If it is... Well, anyone want to volunteer for rancher "collection"? I'll be nicer to the cows, 'cause it's hardly THEIR fault, but I really want to use helicopters to herd the ranchers into a chute and then tranq them. See how humane they think it is then. >;o)

Callie said...

Thanks for your input, Ladies, Doesn't look like anyone's touchin' this subject. Interesting!

Midlife Mom said...

Great post Callie, you always are up on things and very informative. We don't have any mustangs here in Maine so I don't know too much about it but I do hear about the horror stories. Who pays ranchers like Pioneer Woman to keep the mustangs there and care for them? Their mustangs sure look good and well cared for. Is it the BLM? Thanks for sharing your knowledge! 800 posts? You rock girl!!!

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

The cattlemen have no say in how many horses are or are not allowed on the range. Also, cattle are not allowed to say on the range year-round.

Grazing permits to ranchers are not as cheap as haters would like the general public to believe. The ranchers have a lot of hoops they have to jump through to even run their cattle on federal land. The dates the cattle can go in and must come out are supremely rigid as are the numbers of cattle allowed on the range.

And where do you all think the monies collected from the ranchers goes to? The BLM. What is the BLM doing with that money? Spending it on trying to figure out what to do with the mustangs.

Something else you all need to be aware of is that horses are very, very hard on the ecosystems they reside in. An area overgrazed by horses takes much longer to come back and may never be the same as being overgrazed by native animals or even cattle. Horses also have a nasty tendency to hover around waterholes and will keep other animals from watering in NATIVE animals.

The overgrazing of federal lands by cattle is highly unlikely because in years of drought, the ranchers are required by the BLM to remove their livestock early.

Comparing the AU/acre for herds in the semi-arid to arid states areas to an area like the New Forest region in England is ridiculous and uneducated. Wow-just wow Callie and Steve...did you even stop to think of the massive difference in precipition?

Now, after saying all of I think they way the that BLM handles the mustang numbers current or up to date? Not in the least. They seem to have very little current knowledge of how to manage the herds. But their lack of ability of how to figure out how to manage the herds have nothing to do with the ranchers.

But if anyone wants to do a little back ground might want to see what you can find on what happened to the mustangs in the 80's, when everyone told the BLM to "just leave them alone" and they did. Mustangs starved by the hundreds and thousands during those times because of the overpopulation and drought. Gee...then all of the sudden everyone wanted the BLM to do something about that.

Well people, make up your freaking minds. If you want the mustangs left are going to have to deal with what happens to overpopulated areas...the ecosystem will be destroyed and the horses will starve. They will be gone, as will most of the native wildlife and the BLM won't even be able to put cattle on it to collect the almighty dollar.

The oh-so-emotional general public needs to pull their heads out of their collective asses and stop blaming "the ranchers". The ranchers are at the same mercy of the convoluted government entity known as the BLM as the mustangs are. It's not the freaking 60's and 70's anymore. The ranchers are not out running mustangs off the land, rounding them up or shooting them. If you have a bone to pick...pick it with the outdated, unenlightened government program in charge...not the people who feed your dumb asses!!

Callie said...

Whoa, Whoa, whoa, BEC......Have you ever been to the New Forest? I have......It is Not all that lush, In fact it's quite scrubish, yeah maybe not desert, but it's not fields of lush grass, trust me, dried weeds & dirt when I saw it. And Native? The law states that wild horses are native. Are cattle native? Just puttin' that out there. I'll find a real picture of the New Forest area. Not something from a travel guide. And I'll let Steve address that since he's from there.

Callie said...

Oh, And it's called "lobbyist"... ;)

Callie said...

And Good Grief! BEC, I know this a touchy subject for you. I think we've had arguements in the past over this very same thing. And that is part of the bone of contention, the BLM. I'm just throwing some intersting sites I found out there. And actually, getting pissed is fine, and having your opinion, but I don't think I've ever come over to your place and accused you of being a "dumb ass", even if perhaps I thought you were. I thought we had a little more respect for each other. Again, your opinion and thoughts are valued here, but "Christ!" , I think I may mail you a valium, girl, LOL!

Katharine Swan said...

We don't need that many cattle to feed our country, for one thing. We waste a lot of food in this country, and spend the rest on OVERfeeding ourselves.

And yeah, the ranchers do have a say in it -- they are able to put quite a bit of political pressure on the BLM. Making them out to be innocent bystanders is ridiculous.

I'm not so sure any of us are arguing that the mustangs should be left completely alone. Our civilization limits the natural forces that would normally control herd size in wild horses, so I think we do have to step in. However, I think we ought to employ more sterilization/horsey birth control, and I also think population limits ought to be set by a group that is NOT influenced by the ranchers.

Finally, horses may not be "native" to the range, meaning they didn't originate here, but since they were most likely introduced 500 years ago by Spanish explorers who were passing through, they have been there long enough to be considered part of the ecosystem.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

We don't huh Katherine? What now you are an expert on just how many cattle the world needs? And you have a right to tell others how much they can or cannot eat? Are you going to be the one to decide which rancher gets to keep raising cattle and which one doesn't? Hey maybe they should put you in charge of rationing everyone's food?

People with attitudes like Katherine's is what pisses me off so much Callie. The whole snicker, snicker, nudge, nudge..."let's round up the ranchers". She has obviously spent way to much time over at the fugly blog.

And yes, the cattlemen have lobbyists. And so does the HSUS and PETA and pretty much ever other animal rights or animal activist groups out there. I'd say it's a pretty level playing field in that respect. Can the cattlemen help it if they are actually focused on a goal unlike the animal freak groups who are only interested in propaganda and filling their own pockets?

Hey maybe if all of those concerned citizens and groups put as much effort into making the BLM update it's policies as they did slamming each other and lying to everyone about what they actually do do, the whole mustang issue might actually get resolved. Now that's an original thought!

The People History said...

I agree you can not compare New Forest Ponies with Wild Mustangs or the numbers that are sustainable , Suppose that was the wrong comparison to use.

They do also graze Pigs and Cattle in The New Forest BTW.

The numbers sustainable are very different but my point was more that the numbers of Mustangs are being reduced is heavy handed when compared to the number of cattle supported and seems from an outsiders viewpoint to be speeding up the removal of Mustangs.

If public lands could support close to 50,000 wild horses 10 years ago, what has changed to decide that the number needs to be reduced by half.

I am not a trained environmentalist or wild life expert but would like to see a non funded ( By any interest group ) genuine report on how many mustangs living on the public lands could be sustained similar to reports for other wildlife ( Deer, Bears, ETC. ETC. ) .

Maybe the BLM is not the right group to be looking at Mustang Population maybe it should go over to the DNR who may be able to look at the issues in a different way.

Also any special interest group will always push for their interests ( Environmentalists or Business Interests ) , I personally would like to see an end to the current round ups until an independent report was created that looked at all the criteria including Cattle Interests, Other Wildlife and the Mustangs Themselves, or will we see the number of Mustangs decreased to maybe 10,000 or 5,000 or 2,000 where will it end.


PS by the way I am not a Dumb Arse, just believe that sometimes it is worth speaking up when I Believe Something is going wrong.

I also realize that allowing the cattle to use public lands is important and if you stopped all cattle using the land our meat prices would increase multiple fold , but like all things that are related to environmental issues compromise by interested parties is important and having looked at the numbers, I believe currently that the pendulum has swung to far away from the mustangs .

Thank god we live in a free country where we can and should say what we believe is right. Whichever side of the fence you sit on.


Callie said...

I have to "ditto" Steve and maybe we didn't start it off right, but that was the main point of the paragraph. As to PETA, Personally , I'm not a fan of them either, I wear leather and eat beef, all things that come from cattle, etc. And I'm not even going to start the slaughter arguement. Most people who advocate saving everything won't like my opinion on the closure of the US slaughter houses. Not to mention, the in your face commercials, that tug at a person's heart, probably pushing people who aren't capable of caring for a creature of any sort, and maybe putting that creature in more harms way. And I've noticed they've gone past the normal dog and cat theme and started on horses as well.........It's the proper balance thing......I think the problem is with the BLM...Another government run agency. And I think we can all agree on that one......Trust me, I want my steer, his name will be Walter............BEC, I do respect your opinion......We've been blogging for a few years now. I do totally see your point, and you're right, it should be brought together rather than slamming the other side.

Merri said...

it's a sad situation. some of the large herds do deal with starvation especially in droughts - last year we found the skeleton of a mustang who'd died of thirst. Couldn't have been a pretty way to go. but when i see a thousand mustangs in a BLM facility it about kills me. that's no way for a wild horse to live. But then adopting mustangs out for a minimal fee is not the way to go either, with many of the adopters having no clue about horses, much less mustangs.
heck, I don't have a solution.
- The Equestrian Vagabond

The People History said...

hhhmmm well I thought I would research further how this Grazing Of Cattle is done and set up

The following figures are taken from the BLM own site , link at the bottom of the comment

the current fee for a UAM ( per animal unit month ) I.E. to graze one cow for 12 months on Public lands costs give or take about $16.00 per year

2009 $1.35 per AUM for livestock grazing on public lands in Western states

In 1966 the price was set at $1.23 per AUM

Now a little further maths is needed to understand why something seems a little wrong with this

$100.00 in 1966 is equivalent to $530.00 today

So if we take the figure set in 1966 $1.23 per AUM and use equivalent figure to todays money that would work out at $6.50 per AUM

hhhhmmm either BLM have no concept of basic economics or ??????

Callie said...


gtyyup said...

Callie~I'm not up to getting into the middle of the rights and wrongs of the BLM/rangeland management, but a lot of interesting comments have sure been made on this post.

It's my hope that a compromise can be found...before it's too late. There has to be a way...but even with my limited experience, the BLM and the Forest Service (who also have wild horse herds) are way above their heads. Most of the decision makers (for the mustangs) don't know the first thing about horses. They just look at numbers, and usually those numbers are grossly inflated. And the AML set for most of the HMA's were set in the 1970's. They need to be adjusted as the environment changes in the HMA...but it's not happening.

OK...I'm done. I just want to say thank you for stopping by my blog and for linking it in this post. It's greatly appreciated.

The People History said...

it gets worse

In 1994 the cost was $1.61 per AUM for livestock grazing on public lands in Western states and an independent study said due to the tax subsidy given to ranchers who used public land for grazing

The fair market value of the public lands open to grazing range from a low of $5.72/AUM in Arizona to a high of $17.00/AUM in Nebraska as published in the Rangeland Reform '94 Draft Environmental Impact Statement. and suggested that the price per UAM should increase to $2.50-$3.00/AUM , so how does the price DECREASE not increase from 1994

And someone said lobbyists do not work HA

Jean said...

This is the best discussion of the issue I've seen in a long time. Puts some of it into perspective to me.

The protestors need to find a way to educate the BLM on more humane and effective ways to control the mustang populations then.

How complex is the idea of birth control? I suspect the herds still need stallions? There must be some intelligent, educated horse reproduction experts out there who would have some ideas as to the best way to handle this.

Callie said...

I must thank everyone for their input......It is an interesting conversation..........Think we need a dance off as in Oklahoma!

Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends,
Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends.
One man likes to push a plough,
The other likes to chase a cow,
But that's no reason why they cain't be friends.

If only it was that easy!

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

You guys are absolutely correct, everyone involved has to get over "slamming" each other.

I also found those same figures Steve. The AUM computes as 1 cow and her calf, 1 horse or 5 sheep or goats, per month. The price has recently been reduced, in direct reflection of a less valuable cattle market...a direct reflection of our economy, which the FS and BLM clearly state can happen in their yearly pricing policy.

I also found some other figures. Like there is approximately 50% fewer head of privately owned livestock grazing on Federally owned land now than there was in 1941, when the government first started putting restrictions on grazing rights.

Also, there is approximately 2% of livestock producers(cattle and sheep) that actually graze on federal land. Fifty-seven percent of ranchers polled nationwide said that the loss of grazing rights on Federally or State owned land would not bother them.

So how does 2% of an entire industry affect how the government agencies handle livestock grazing on public land? They are organized, focused and live in those immediate areas. They are in constant contact with local legislation and are very good at placing people of like minds in positions of power. However in comparision to the other special interest group pressures, Congressional dicatates and even Presidential dicates that they are also unindated with and limited by...the cattlemen pale in comparison.

Unlike the vast majority of activists, whose interest is sporatic and more often than not based on even less factual information than the livestock interest. Not to mention the emotional drama they bring into it. There is absolutely no end to the demands of these people either. Do this, do that, you can't do this, you can't do that. There is no end and you will never make all of them happy, which essentially means that someone will ALWAYS be bitching about how things are done.

You know, I think I would have a lot more respect for the major groups working to save the mustangs if they had just allowed the BLM to dispose of the 30,000 horses in their holding facilities. If they really wanted to save the existing herds, they need to realize that continuing to drain ALL of the resources available to take care of horses that are already off the range is not a way to get the majority of people behind their movement.

The People History said...


I think we agree on quite a few points here.

1. If people want Mustangs to be considered as Wild animals the same as any other wildlife then we do not put any other wildlife in holding pens due to over population we dispose of. I also looked up the figures and most of the money allocated to Wild Horses is being spent in rounding them up and keeping them in pens how stupid is that. Personally I also think the wild population needs to be slightly closer to 35,000.

2. I also looked at a few reports about how many and who had these grazing rights , nearly 20% of the leases are held by large corporations who have bought the ranches who have grazing rights as long term investments ( Also checked and they were paying higher than market value because of investment opportunities forcing genuine rangers to not be able to buy ) Nearly all the oil companies own ranches and grazing rights plus multiple other large corps .

Don't get me wrong I think that cattle ranching as it has been practiced for hundreds of years should be supported and if it requires a tax subsidy via cheap UAM so be it , maybe they should also look increasing UAM or moving some of the land management to the ranchers at the moment it costs more than the government gets in.

We can not have it all ways cheap meat and no help for traditional ranchers.

I looked at those figures as well and thought they were interesting , what I also checked out was some stuff on PETA which I found highly disturbing especially the high salaries these so called environmentalists are paid ( Not sure about you but I am sure if I felt that strongly about something I would not be making sure my earnings were over $500,000 per year as a priority.

I also feel concern that the current Dept. of Interior Secretary is a strong supporter of oil interests who is well funded during elections.

I must be honest the more I look into it the more I realize the whole thing is a clusterfuck ( One of Callies words never heard it before I came here ) but it suits this mess to a tee , and I think everybody involved needs to be slapped and remind them all we need to live in harmony wildlife, man and business and each is important to our wellbeing

The only losers here are the Wild horses at the moment as there can be nothing worse than locked up in pens when you are a free roaming wild animal


Suzanne said...

Thanks for the plug, Grey Horse! I'm Suzanne from Golden Days. My blog started out as just a commentary about my adventures with my horse, Indy, and his pasture-mate, Ami, plus some general opinions I've formed over the 30+ years I've been involved with horses.

My anti-slaughter advocacy started way back in the late 1970s when I was still in Dallas - where I was born and raised - where we had the "pleasure" of being too close to both Dallas Crown and Beltex while both were still rollin' them out.

Horse theft was a cottage industry and, while I never had a horse stolen, a number of my friends did. I saw the slaughter houses up close and personal while helping my friends try to find their beloved horses before it was too late. I also went to the auctions and saw the "meat men" out bid the regular folks for all the good horses - and believe me, they DO take the good ones. No slaughter house is gonna pay for a sick, skinny horse.

I got seriously involved with the Wild Horses when the BLM started tossing out how they were going to "have to" slaughter the ones they were holding, but still wouldn't let M Pickins have them.

If anyone here wants to learn what's really happening, I have lots of stuff on Golden Days: and links to even more informative places. :o)

BrownEyedCowgirls, you have a lot to learn before you start getting so hot under the collar. For starters, it's CATTLE not horses that hover around the water holes and do horrendous damage. Horses stay on the move - if the fences the BLM put up don't cut them off most of their range that is - so they probably spend LESS time in any one spot year round than the cattle do part time. Besides, the horses ARE native; the cattle ARE NOT and there are about 200 cattle for every horse out there. Can 30 THOUSAND horses possibly match 6 MILLION cattle in damage?

The BLM does not use the money from the ranchers to pay for the horses - where did you get that!

The BLM loses millions on the grazing leases and the tax payers make up the difference - to the tune of millions and millions of dollars - figures from the GAO.

Tax payers also pay millions for the BLM to warehouse more horses than are still on the range - also to the tune of millions of dollars. This while the ranges where the horses were removed stand empty. Check here: This is part of a large site called National Public Lands Grazing Campaign. This entire site is very interesting and disturbing. And there are also the GAO reports which are on-line too.

Now to my Pet Peeve - People assuming that everyone who advocates for fair and humane treatment of ANY animal are "nutcase radical animal rights activists," when NOTHING could be farther from the truth. Animal "rights" and animal "welfare" are polar opposites. Personally, I despise PETA and their ilk - and the HSUS is rapidly becoming as bad - because I think they're crazy, their agenda appalls me, and mostly because they discredit legitimate welfare advocacy.

The VAST majority of "us" are not vegans, don't oppose agriculture and don't have a problem with legitimate ranchers - as opposed to Rolex Ranchers like Ted Turner and large corporations like Hewlett-Packard running their hobby ranches at tax payer expense. And that's what we're mostly dealing with on public lands these days. Very few family ranchers who actually make their living ranching are there, and we wouldn't object to THEM anyway.

Wow! Didn't intend to write a book! Just remember that you're HELPING the animal rights whackos by not being better educated about who's who.

They oppose the idea that there can be any humane interaction between humans and animals, so it's just money in their coffers when you oppose people who just think cruelty and injustice are bad things. And surly no sane person would argue that those things are very bad indeed.