America – a Country with Too Many Horses?
The USA is the land of the free or at least that’s how the song goes.
But freedom isn’t just another word for something that humans treasure and experience. There are also lots of open spaces and publicly owned national parks across our great country and within these areas, there are millions of citizen animals that roam around and live as nature intended.
Amongst these are the horses. According to a recent statement from the Bureau of Land Management, there are simply too many horses in America in this modern era. The only modern solution to this particularly modern problem is to round them up and put them into care, at the cost of the great American taxpayer.
Back in time, there were a lot more wild animals and natural predators of the wild horse, such as bears, bobcats and cougars. The problem is that the more settled lands became – particularly with the last great settlement drive of the 20th century across the Sunshine States – the natural habitat for the horses’ natural predators has kept getting smaller and smaller.
As this continued, the horses have flourished and now we’re at the point where there too many of them. It is unthinkable and socially unacceptable to cull them, so the only solution is to round a certain proportion of them up and put them into a pen. The likelihood is that these horses will remain in the unsheltered pens for the remainder of their days.
The number crunch comes down to about 30,000 wild horses, according to official estimates. These are animals that roam free on public lands in a zone that they share with about a million cows that belong to private ranchers. The ranchers can lease land belonging to the Government at very affordable rates and this clash means that something has to give when the private cattle ranchers start to complain about there being too many horses.
Taxpayers end up footing the bill for the growing number of animals that have to be kept in holding pens and away from the cattle. The number of un-owned horses in captivity now outnumbers the wild ones, with almost 50,000 of them.
Adding to the woes of this situation is the fact that the American government is using more and more public land to try and find any valuable commodities beneath it through fracking and drilling.
It is a very unsettling situation for anyone who’s interested in the welfare of horses. The fact is that there is a lot of public land and the million or so cattle on it are not a problem but 30,000 horses is the absolute limit seemingly.
One of the arguments that have been mooted is that of organic pest control. The business of flies getting rid of them is a point of argument, with some cattle ranchers arguing that having wild horses near their cattle causes fly infestation and that it interferes with fly control programs where they have been using mosquito spray and the best mosquito repellent.