At Wild Horse Education we do a lot of interviews for multiple projects. Sometimes we miss when one is published. We missed one published in a mens magazine called “Mel.” The magazine states that it covers the world from a “broader male perspective” than other mens magazines. It’s not the usual venue for a wild horse story. On the upside it means interest is growing. On the downside they obviously do not have a fact-checker on staff and the “growing interest” may end up creating new layers of obstacles.
Instead of simply sharing a link, we feel we have to present the article in an editorial form. It seems the writer is probably buddies with the gal that wrote the Washington Post piece (maybe even the person traveling with her) that we editorialized last year? If you read both articles, it would make sense.
Why does it matter? Public lands issues are often precise and complex. The public conversation surrounding “wild horses under law” should resemble the one we have on sage grouse, wolves, etc.
We are on the verge of the largest removals in US history (15-20K per year), sterilization, and the destruction of the last truly wild herds we have today. Much of the conversation is based on decades of manipulation and myth. Facts really matter.
Below we present a few paragraphs and commentary on the Mel piece.
MUSTANGS SYMBOLIZE AMERICAN FREEDOM. THEY’RE ALSO DESTROYING THE WEST. Has the wild horse become too wild for us to handle? by Isabelle Kohn, Mel Magazine (you can click the headline text to go directly to Mel magazine and read the article above)
The piece begins with the writer driving USA Parkway in NV as she is reflecting on how many critters she has hit while driving: “I remember each in excruciating and gory detail as blemishes on my karmic record to be atoned for with monthly donations to the Humane Society.”
For our regular readers you can see the slant right out of the gate; she drank the Kool-Aide on the “Path Forward” backdoor deal with multi-million dollar corporate lobby groups including Cattlemen’s Ass’n and HSUS. It is as if this article is trying to use that document as a factual middle ground and this piece becomes another sales pitch.
Most of you understand just how deep that betrayal went. (More HERE)
Driving USA Parkway horses step in the road. The writer then uses this incident to bolster the “we are overrun by horses” insanity out of the mouth of William Perry Pendley, current Chief of BLM (WHE have filed a complaint against Perry and his severely corrupt regime) who is running true to the acronym; Bureau of Livestock and Mining. (Wild horses occupy only 12% of public lands and use about 16% of forage in that 12%. That’s tiny, not big. Sometimes it feels like we should insert a Sesame Street video?)
“I hadn’t expected to see a horse on a four-lane highway any more than I’d expected to see one pulling slots at the smoky Las Vegas motel from whence I came, but in hindsight, maybe I should have. According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) — the government agency responsible for handling wild horses and burros on public lands — the area around Reno is crawling with them.”
So the article starts off with fiction. Not a good place to begin. The horses on USA Parkway are VIRGINIA RANGE horses managed by the state, these are NOT BLM wild horses. VIRGINIA RANGE does not reflect BLM, BLM practices and the legal term “wild horses” being discussed in Congress. VIRGINIA RANGE horses are not the subject of Congressional debate.
Then she adds a parenthetical to a quote from Laura Leigh, our founder: These gathers are just a senseless, unbelievably cruel thing to do to an animal, especially when there are better options like PZP [a hormonal contraceptive delivered via dart gun at no small cost]. The whole thing is a complete mess.”
LEIGH DID NOT SAY THAT! PZP is a non-hormonal temporary fertility control vaccine that, when applied via dart gun, is extremely cheap! (particularly when compared to the cost of roundups and warehousing.) So if the quote does not fit your narrative you change a quote? Did you ever take Ethics anymore in journalism school or has it been dropped from the curriculum? If you disagree with the quote, want to add something, or want to use JJ Goicoechea words, don’t put that stuff in our mouth.
Here it is!
“As we speak, he’s parked his tractor out on the public lands in Nevada’s Newark Valley where he’s licensed to graze his cattle… ” JJ Goicoechea.
YES! It is the same people that did the Washington Post piece! Two freelance journalists sharing expenses, does not absolve you from fact-checking. The piece should begin with: “I wanted to go out west and write about horses, I like cowboys. My friend got an assignment and I sold a piece too! We pooled our resources, and as a freelancer, was finally able to pay my phone bill!” (That would have been an honest way to start the story.)
It all makes sense. Same interviews, timeframe, etc. But we do thank you for actually taking the time to reach out to WHE for the Mel piece and gave us a few zingers. WHE got “run over” by all the salesmen in the Washington Post piece. No wonder it is not understood that Virginia Range is NOT representative of BLM. The actual details do not work for corporate salespeople.
At least when the conversation shifted into the “overpopulation” and “all the poor cowboys”the writer did let us shift that conversation. A conversation not covered in the other piece.
Leigh, however, isn’t so sure that’s true. “You want to talk about environmental impact?” she says. “Fine. Let’s talk about livestock.” (“isn’t so sure that’s true”…. Leigh is more than sure, stop putting words in her mouth. She knows what is destroying the West and told you, many times.)
“There’s money to be made here in the American West off public resources, and horses stand in the way,” says Leigh. “So, what do we do? We blame the horse. What we need to do when we start to talk about the wild horse is to begin to recognize it’s not only the living symbol of the pioneer spirit in the West, as the law says, but that it’s the living spirit of corruption of the West, too.” Put another way, it’s not the horses that have gotten out of hand, here. It’s the people.
We do know these writers were taken on the “lets make a deal” journey by all of those at that table trying to sell them a package that the taxpayer will fund to put more money into the corporate welfare pot and not fix one thing. This was not a fact finding mission.
If you write again, Isabelle Kohn, remember wild horses are not domestics, they are part of public lands. The roundup and then back to the range is where they story lies, not in Ben Masers (Masters, whatever) frat boy romp movies. This story (our wild horses on public land) is not a fluff piece and deserves serious attention. The American public is getting robbed… and our truly wild horses are one of the things we are going to lose.
“We as a country need to think about what’s important to us to preserve,” says Leigh. “We need to preserve that wild place. We need that wild spirit. We need a place to go to remember how beautiful our country can be and what we once were, that resilient survivor, and nowhere is that more present than reflected in the eyes of the wild horse.”
We do thank them for the last words in this piece.
However, this piece is another swing and a miss.
If you are new to wild horses?
Two articles and an action item can bring you “up to speed” in the big picture.
The mechanics are broken (and an action item) : https://wildhorseeducation.org/2020/01/13/the-mechanics-of-intention-basics-of-the-fight-part-two/
Help Keep Us In The Fight.
Categories: Wild Horse Education