U.S. NEWS and World Report
August 24, 2009 02:09 PM ET | Bonnie Erbe
By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
And you thought the Wild West lost its punch at the turn of the 19th century. Well, think again. There are still wars going on over land and water, much as they did in the late 1800s. Only this time, it's not cowboy vs. cowboy, it's people vs. big government.
Supporters of wild horses on federal lands in the West say the Bureau of Land Management is doing its best to round up the herds and send them to the slaughterhouses. These wars used to rage over the range and competition with ranchers. But now, supporters say, there's another enemy: development.
The ranchers and the BLM like to blame "rangeland degradation" (over-grazing) on the wild horses, only they never mention that the privately owned cows that graze these same lands by govt permit outnumber the wild horses 200 to 1!! Nor do they mention the fact that these lands are permitted for other uses that also contribute to rangeland degradation like ATV / ORV use or big game that outnumber the wild horses 3 to 1. However, as it turns out more recently, it is not really about "rangeland degradation" anymore,....its about "land-swapping," special interest, development and "community building." Even the BLM is starting to admit that now,...how could they not? It's getting so obvious these days.
This fight goes beyond animal lovers. It should also be extended to Americans who love open space, the great outdoors, and preservation of this nation's western history. Overdevelopment used to be limited to the two coasts. Now all the land in between is being bought up and paved over. It should be sacrilegious to consider doing so to federally owned lands. The Wild Horse Warriors blog referenced above has suggestions for how you can express your thoughts to the BLM.