Preface, before we meet some wild ones:
The team at Wild Horse Education covers multiple HMAs each year in our field work. We document changing range conditions primarily brought on by rapidly advancing industries and the broad damage done by the roads, fences, water draw down, grazing and more. These impacts to the range far exceed any impacts by wild horses and burros.
We have documented multiple ranges over the years that have gone from truly wild places to entering into an industrial wasteland. Our teams have gone from spending a sunset with hundreds of wild horses, on a very healthy range, to searching through mazes of barbed wire, mining truck traffic and waters turned off by livestock operators. It is abuse.
The lack of actual management planning allows these industrial interests to ravage HMAs and the paperwork always, essentially, simply states: the horses will figure it out, no harm. Then we see roundups to suit the management plans of industry.
Once removed wild horses become a number in inventory. An inventory the agency wants to move out as fast as possible so more can be removed. “Sale Authority,” and the new subsidized adoptions (AIP), keep both young and old moving out and into the danger of entering the slaughter pipeline.
The fight for the wild begins in the wild, deep in the complexities and corruption of public lands management. (You can take a few action items here)
A few years ago we introduced our readers to the Old Man of the Pancake HMA; smaller, battle-scarred, medicine hat stallion. He was already an old man when we met him years ago. We have never called him anything but “old man.”
He may be older than many of the studs he takes on, but he has the experience that decades on range have taught him. As he ages he loses mares. But he fights to regain mares, even in his old age. Scrappy old man.
The fight to gain mares takes a toll. But he never gives up. Last year he gained two mares and defended them all year from the younger stud he probably stole them from. The drive built in by mother nature is so strong in him.
One of his sons is now a young bachelor stallion we simply call “Red Hat.” He carries the medicine hat traits of his father. The Pancake HMA has a handful of medicine hats that should be preserved on that range. The current plan has no such outline on who will stay after the agency slams the population on the 1.1 million acre complex to 361 wild horses. (One of our active legal actions is against that plan, more here)
Red Hat, unlike his father, prefers the safety of the bachelor band and does not venture far. He is more timid and reserved than some of the other bachelors and such a joy to behold over the years.
Season after season we visit the HMA. Trespass livestock, and rapidly expanding mining in the area, create massive challenges. Waters disappearing and gates constantly closed inhibiting movement through the HMA.
Desperate for a drink one spring, we saw Red Hat tangle with barbed wire.
The Pancake HMA is (was) truly spectacular. The area contains a handful of medicine hats, curlies and overo paints. The bays and blacks in the area simply stunning, larger, with beautiful movement.
The BLM has done absolutely nothing to protect this herd, nothing. In fact, they have given away the best habitat in the HMA to mines and allowed livestock, for decades, to bash the rest.
We are now at the “blame the horse” phase of what BLM calls a “thriving natural ecological balance.”
However, the high desert and wild horses are resilient survivors.
One of our last truly large herds still lives on a range that, if we curtail industry, could sustain them for future generations.
WHE has taken a stand. We will take litigation as far as we need to. We can not let one of our last large herds be destroyed.
We will introduce you to more of the wild horses we are taking a stand for at Pancake, and other HMAS we are litigating for, soon.
Help keep us in the fight.