Stallion before recent Triple B roundup (2018) no longer free.
“Over the last decade I have born witness and given testimony. The day to day of what is observed on a daily basis, not a three day trip to get a few pictures, is a record of how politics destroy relationship, management, factual information, wild horses and the land they stand on.
I’m just getting in from another data run and then have another in a fast turn around.
When I stand on a range I do not just see what is in front of me in that moment. I see and hear in memory every other moment I stood there; range, horses, people. I remember what happened in front of my eyes and all the people games going on in all the political arenas far from that time and place.
The greatest threat is people politics. I stand here, time and again, and see the consequence both long and short term. It hurts.” L. Leigh
When we at Wild Horse Education (WHE) use the word “politics” many assume we are referencing only the federal government. We are using the term in a broader sense and find the Urban Dictionary a really good source that reflects our meaning.
it’s when you are presented with no more than two choices ever as though there were only two sides or only two possible positions on all of life’s most complex issues…
both sides are really screwed up but one of them acts like it’s never ever wrong and this works to tug at the heart strings of soccer moms and ignorant but well meaning kids and gain their sympathies
For anyone that has spent a year or more in any advocacy we probably don’t need to finish this article; you are already laughing, nodding your head and understand the tone of what we write next. However, we hope you continue to read and we will try to make this brief.
If the objective is to create a sustained future for wild horses, on a landscape that retains enough semblance of health to propagate enough food, then that is a clarified goal.
If the objective is to create a “healthy herd” then that needs to be clearly defined.
If the objective is to create a “healthy landscape” that would include the ability to sustain wild populations of multiple species, you have stated a purpose that needs definition.
This is a mathematical equation based on information, that is all this should be. Anything else that defines any variable besides fact is conjecture. Conjecture becomes the crack in the foundation and all fails. If you do not have a fact and insert an assertion? give it a footnote, please?
If, on top of that equation you must build in what we call “multiple ruse,” BLM calls “multiple use,” the underlying equation must be a priority. If it is not any mission of “healthy herd, healthy landscape” simply becomes only… (you fill in your favorite term) politics.
If you are engaged in this discussion and you put a utopian vision as an achievement you believe can happen tomorrow, without outlining the steps to get there, you are (fill in your favorite term) politics.
We are gathering as much info as possible, in the here and now, to add to what we have gathered over the last decade. Each and every element of perpetuated conjecture (politics) on all sides is the greatest threat to preservation of anything wild, including wild horses. WHE is tiny, but we are doing all we can.
A simple, and hopefully, non controversial example:
When you hear as a baseline for this discussion “wild horse populations grow at around 20% per year” and then a discussion that involves killing, slaughter or fertility control of wild horses the discussion is automatically doomed to become a conversation of conjecture. Even if all the people agreed to a course of action (not a probability in the real world) any plan would be incorrect action; overkill or misdirected, a failure to achieve any of the stated objectives of “balance.” 20% is a figure based on conjecture repeated so many times it is accepted fact.
Our work, over a decade, shows that in recently disturbed populations (large roundup, big mine) populations breed at 19-23%. In undisturbed populations we see 14-16%. In areas of predation (before Dept. of Wildlife kills the mountain lions) we see foal rates (end of calendar year) at 7-12%. (This was included in the National Academy of Sciences report in 2013 and over the last 4 years of a deceleration in roundups has born true in the national statistics with a 15% overall growth rate in 2016/17).
Without having that information in a footnote we are acting as if every HMA just had a broad scale roundup, populations are exploding, and coming at this with a crash cart and not antibiotics and a few sutures. The conversation is flawed.
However the longer you withhold the “antibiotics and sutures?” You might need that crash cart.
When we are discussing wild horses we must include the larger equation. Continuing to treat wild horses as a distinct and separate issue from the rest of land management is simply (insert favorite term) politics.
Roundups bring media and the public. The discussion must move backwards to the range itself if we are to address management. Rescue and adoption is important and those stories can be amazing; but it is not management and the adoption program is not a problem it’s only a symptom.
Our western ranges are in trouble. If you can not accept that before we have any discussion about a sage grouse, trout, mule deer or wild horse? Leave the room… because you are part of the problem. If you are a rancher simply intent on running the number great grandad ran? leave the room. If you are “not one horse removed and do nothing?” leave the room. If you are a BLM employee acting like BLM has never made a mistake, always tells the truth and has always managed professionally for healthy landscape? leave the room.
None of that chatter is addressing the reality of today and will continue to impede any possibility that our American West will survive what is already on it’s way because of a failure to address underlying issues and run politics over sanity… and that is the death of the wild places in the American West.
Advocacy needs to brace itself.
As midterms draw closer and the debate over FY19 Appropriations carries the threat of shooting wild horses again (along with multiple other provisions that threaten the land every living thing depends on) you need to get your politic filter on tight.
Public land ranching has had political summits every month (multiple states and many multiple times a month). They are highly organized, have their best voices ready. They will speak from a highly organized public relations political machine that carries messages for both law makers and the public; polished as well as intense mud slinging.
Advocacy has not “organized” and made any attempt to “work out our differences” to fight the larger threat. An effort was made in April of 2017 and it fractured under threats of litigation from other advocates over a hashtag, one org wanting on the website and a general lack of comprehension. Sound familiar? Read the book by Alan Kania about Velma Johnston. This is a repeat scenario that has cycled for nearly 50 years. When you see a sign on letter with a lot of names? Most of those names do not include people that actually experience, or could testify to, the world of wild horses. It demonstrates “interest,” not what the ranching industry has… organized testimony.
Using the simplistic example of “reproduce at 20%” we can confidently say that almost everyone that says that phrase has not seen that phrase in practice. The ability to testify to any assertion is going to become crucial in the months ahead.
WHE will do all we can. But there is a history of politics that we all stand upon. The politics have created a reality that has impeded creation of change, dismantled change when it occurred and destroyed seeds of change planted over years.
Zinke has given a report. We will respond point by point.
In order to create change you have to understand the problems, address it with fact and have a clear vision of a realistic objective.
Be careful out there. Social media is going to be hit hard. If you see something, no matter where it comes from, put it through your politics filter before hitting that share button.
A common tactic of “politics” is not to educate your audience, but treat the audience like sheep to herd. Don’t be sheep or wild horses will go to slaughter, will be spayed and herds will be given over to permittees in another ranching subsidy program.
To read an article on some underlying problems click image below.
Our Triple B E-magazine is still available to donors as a thank you gift. It explains the underlying factors of the Triple B roundup. Each roundup is an example of broken management, management by politics.