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Survivors

Your public land

The resilient survivor can take whatever obstacle, no matter how hard, and overcome. Our arid desert landscapes are resilient survivors. Our wild horses are resilient survivors. That quality is what is a part of the legacy of the American Mustang, once a symbol of the spirit of a nation.

Resilient survivors also reach a point of no return. Can our western landscapes, and all that live there, survive over a century of industrial priorities and climate change?

Editorial below comes with a “snark alert” and pictures of a few dead animals we found in just two hours on range. It is hard to be “politically correct” after our teams spend time on the range and apologies to anyone we offend, sort of. It really hurts “the soul of an advocate” to watch year after year the consequence of profit lines over protection. Being a bit “snarky” helps. 

Rangeland (in a wild horse HMA) after turnout of domestic livestock.

Over the last couple of years grazing schemes have been approved that allow more cows (as supposed fire fuel reduction and, absurdly, “restoration”) waters shut off to “rest” an area when cows come off (so wildlife and horses can not come in) and more fences, etc.

Due to climate change and, in many areas, mining that draws down water tables further, it was so dry the cheat grass did not even have enough moisture to cheat the native grasses!

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We see federal land managers and political lackeys for the livestock industry wave pictures of “starving horses” (usually the ones from Cold Creek in 2015, still) to try to claim wild horses are so overpopulated they are the greatest threat to our rangelands.

How about some dead cows and sheep? Every single year we document skinny (and dead) domestic livestock on the range. The “dump and pickup” method used by most livestock operators (y’know, those great stewards of the rangeland) either leaves a few out there as they turn off the waters, or simply not there when these animals were in trouble.

Do you think one politician will ever wave a picture of a dead cow and call for reduction in livestock? why not?

If we claim “no predation” on the range as a reason to roundup horses, why do we keep “reimbursing” stockmen for claims that predators killed their stock and not just the neglect of the “dump and recover” public lands grazing method? (The dead livestock we document were not killed by lions or coyotes, they might have been scavenged by a couple of badgers and a coyote or two.)

Everywhere you look you see cows out on bashed ranges. If cows in a feedlot looked like this, would the “big corporate million dollar orgs” be running a “save” through some social media campaign?

Where are they? That’s right, they made a deal with the livestock industry to sell fertility control and turn it into paid contracts (Path Forward that lives officially in the 2020 BLM Report).

The BLM has just approved funding for grants (partnerships). We expect many to go to public lands ranchers (trap, train), some training/adoption/placement, a few PZP darting agreements.

Wonder if big corporate orgs will dart those poor cows?

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The desert is amazing. Even when battered and bashed, she struggles to bring life. But how much is too much abuse? Can the desert ever heal? Can species on the downhill slide to extinction like the desert tortoise or sage grouse recover if every shred of life the desert brings forth is targeted for some humans bank account?

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Mining roads are going into some of the best habitat left. Exploration rigs, roads and more. Near mining expansion we have found where there should be water, it is bone dry.

The sage grouse we used to see in these areas are all gone.

Our amazing desert landscapes are home to wild survivors. Perfectly suited for each other they keep overcoming all that man takes from them. If you know the range and how a wild one will move out of an area that used to sustain them and they have not been fenced in to die, you can still find them… the small bands of stragglers, survivors. But for how long?


We need real reform. Perhaps, if 20 years ago BLM  implemented fertility control and created actual management plans (that protected  our herds and their habitat) we would not face the stark reality of the consequences of prioritizing industry and caving to bullies, but they did not. What we are seeing is too little, far too late, that still prioritizes industry and new ways to exploit a broken system and still spouts “blame the horse.”

When you engage your legislators we need actual and active management planning, as the law intended, that preserves our wild horses and burros and the land the need to survive. We need drought emergency action now against industry. We have action ideas for you HERE.

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: Lead