So often in this work we deal with sweeping upheaval in politics, large scale actions that impact thousands of acres and unjustified actions that shatter wild herds. It is the nature of the “beast” of public lands management where the core issue is not wild horse preservation but the consequence of minimization of the needs anything natural or wild over the desires of corporate greed. As advocates for wild things we truly tread within a deranged war over public resources where the capacity for “callous disregard,” manipulation of facts and petty personal agendas is held in regard over honest effort, simple fact and fairness.
It is easy to get discouraged. Wild horse advocacy lies in the core of public lands management. The meaning of that phrase includes the fact that advocacy for the wild wont ever have an end to it. There will always be some profit line, some power game, that creates a threat. Advocacy is forever.
Many of you have heard the “Starfish” parable.
One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.
Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish, Sir”.
The old man chuckled aloud, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”
The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one!”
The message in this poem is well known and very simple: tasks before you may seem daunting, but each step can creates a change, if you only choose to take it.
You may not see each change, ripple of change, the end result of the change your action began, but you can create it if you take that first step.
When things get really hard, complicated and disheartening, it can help to focus on single events that created change that is visible in this statement, “I made a difference for that one!”
In 2019 there are changes that YOU helped create. Some of those changes can appear abstract; framework for legal or political action, addendum for litigation, data entry into systems plotting extractive industry or livestock trespass, etc. (We will cover the legal, technical and formal accomplishments in a later article in our countdown to the new year.)
Yet, some of the change, that may appear as if we threw “one starfish” back into the sea, is tangible and very real.
It Made A Difference For That One
“I saw your photo.” This simple sentence has begun dozens of emails we receive each year. Every time we open one of these notes there is a picture attached showing one of the wild horses we documented on range, during capture and/or in holding standing safely in a new home. A small note will describe the admiration and love this one horse has found within the heart of someone that did not “adopt a number,” but a sentient being. The human hand that now touches one of the wild ones we witnessed stampeded, pushed, torn from home and family (sometimes with tragic consequence to band mates), is one that wants to understand that journey, heal it and build a real and personal relationship.
You helped create that “difference for that one!” and this one… and this one… and these are just a few of them sought out because “I saw your photo.” It does make a difference, to that one, and it matters.
At Triple B 2019 we saw rushed, chaotic, actions and federal staff that did not even know specifics of the humane policy! (Yes, a complaint was filed and we will update you soon.)
With your help, each and every time we go to a roundup to document, (as we push forward our quest for the creation of a humane policy (accomplished), enforcement and betterment of that policy) you also help “make a difference for that one!”
On day 3 the roundup was brutal. Babies were even run at full tilt, back and forth across the valley floor, to collapse. The policy (that YOU helped build) and our court wins at Triple B in the past, were tools we used to stop those actions from repeating the next day. For wild horses, and the foals, captured on day 4, “It made a difference for that one!”
(We will update in our “technical year in review” the rest of the actions we are taking regarding Triple B. But there again, we battle corporate greed to move that fight forward.)
The battles for access to witness (you also helped us win policy change on that front through litigation) go on and are intensifying once again. Hiding actions from scrutiny is a constant battle in wild horse advocacy. It is as if the motto is “if they do not see it, it never happened.”
In 2019 pushing back against a spay experiment was part of advocacy, for the third time. Key to that fight was the First Amendment victory YOU helped us win.
For the wild ones that were set aside to suit the “bully agenda” and be subject to brutality? The experiment was set aside for the third time. “It made a difference for that one!”
Every roundup our data has stopped, every comment that changes a proposed action, every small step creates a change that helps “that one!” abd adds to the changes we can make tomorrow.
There are wild horses that were betrayed in massive political games that have a root in petty, illegal, immoral, unethical, actions by the humans that claim to “manage” or “care.” Many of those wild ones the tangible difference made was temporary. But the path they travelled, well documented, may lead to larger changes to make a difference for others. Maybe some day we will get a note “I saw your photo” and the evidence of the ripple of a “difference for that one” will once again be revealed to bring hope?
The battles coming in 2020 will be fast, fierce and critical.
A lot of what you read will be infuriating, disgusting and twisted. We will face battles against large scale and unjustified removals, sterilization (including spaying), trespass private livestock and continued illegal use of public land, massive mining tearing up the range and polluting water, avoidable deaths as policies are ignored at roundups. We will go into battle against fraud, corruption and greed in the first big battle of 2020 against the funding wrought through deception set to devastate our herds.
Do not get discouraged. You are needed more than ever. We can make progress in the big battles (and have), we can defend that progress and push back (and have), we can make a difference in the “big picture” and change policy (and have.)
You have also created opportunity that has “It made a difference for that one!” That kind of change? it really matters.
Categories: Wild Horse Education