World Earth Day is celebrated every April 22 since 1970. The day marks the beginning of todays environmental movement. Each year there is a theme for Earth Day.
2021 Earth Day Theme: Restore Our Earth
As wild horse and burro advocates we are painfully aware of the abusive practices of industrial interests on our public lands, the effects of climate change and how “wild horse country” has been fragmented with fences and roads. For decades our wild horses and burros have been a scapegoat for profit driven interests and used as an excuse to continue the destructive path: just roundup horses and burros and claim you are addressing the problem, yet continue to run the profit lines for politics and buddy clubs.
The days where “blame the horse” can be used to postpone changes in permitting industry are crashing to an end; a truly American tragedy is unfolding, fast.
As administration officials spout the urgency of addressing environmental issues, the vast majority of America’s wild places are being left out of the conversation. Addressing things like oil drilling in Alaska’s remote wilderness are extremely important, but so is addressing the American West.
For our wild horses and burros we are still hearing “population growth suppression” and “overpopulation” as the tag lines. We are hearing nothing about addressing deficits in science and planning. Nothing about curtailing the industrial push of livestock and mining that is destroying the land our wild ones need to survive.
Once again, we hear that “removing wild horses” helps protect wildlife. That statement is actually as absurd as saying “remove wildlife to protect wild horses.”
Wild horses and wildlife are facing the identical threats. The threat is not from the other, the survival of each depends on addressing the true threats faced by both.
On range after range our teams are documenting “skinny and ragged” domestic livestock that have been turned out in one of the most fragile growing seasons (grasses and forbs) we have documented in a decade. Most of the livestock we have documented are not thriving, they appear to be suffering as they continue to cause damage to the range that will increase the suffering of both wildlife and wild horses later this summer. Domestic livestock on the range is is also being impacted by mines drawing down water tables, climate change and over a century of overuse by livestock producers of rangelands in the most arid states in the nation. Grazing cattle in places like Nevada is not like grazing cattle in the midwest.
Over the last couple of years we have seen land managers approve plan after plan to bolster the livestock industry. Schemes based on junk science that further fragment rangelands, shut waters off for wildlife, plant invasive grasses for livestock feed, kill trees, etc.
We have seen mine permits fly like lottery tickets and mining expansion approved again and again. Once deserted and wild landscapes now resemble industrial complexes with fast moving trucks carrying ore and busses carrying transient mine workers.
Wild horses are truly the “canary in the coal mine” on the limited public lands they occupy. Wild horses prefer open places, benches between the lowlands and uplands, and are curious and intelligent. What you can easily document happening to wild horses is what is happening to wildlife.
In order to “restore our earth” we must stop blaming the wild things for the destruction caused by man.
This earth day we must begin to address our public lands in a way that can heal the landscape, curtail the industries that cause that damage and stop making excuses and looking for something else to blame.
When we talk about restoring our earth, let us not forget we must include all of our western public lands. Earth day is not just about “giving up plastic straws,” it is about the real reform needed to save our wild places.
Every week we will be sending an updated letter to land managers asking what they are doing to protect wild horses and wildlife from industry during drought. Most BLM districts in the West already have drought pans that would allow them to take action, they are simply not taking any action. Learn More and sign on HERE.
Learn more about the livestock industry on public lands and how it impacts wild horses. We include an update on one of our cases against livestock permitting (HERE).
Last year we saw many “emergency removals” of wild horses. In each instance the wild horse was “blamed” for the hardships they face and absolutely no responsibility for failed management planning was accepted by land managers. We will see this repeat again next year. Learn more and take action HERE.
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Categories: Wild Horse Education
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