A horse stands on the range. (Photo courtesy of William E. Simpson II)

Opinion

Nobody starts out as a wild horse advocate. Instead, it’s an evolutionary process–one that begins with some form of experience or exposure to one or more wild horses.

For most people, initial exposure to wild horses comes by way of a movie, photographs, social media or articles about them. 

For all humankind, the connection that is made to a wild horse runs deep throughout our evolutionary past. The human-horse relationship that virtually all humans have is a result of the fact that horses were an integral part of the daily lives of humans prior to the industrial revolution of the late 1800s and stretching back into time for millennia. 

And as the journey continues, people discover and learn about the current plight of native species of American wild horses. It is at this point, in what is for most people a very personal journey, that women and men begin to sympathize and have compassion for American wild horses.

This poem (song lyrics) by the philosopher-poet-songwriters Ray Thomas and Graeme Edge of the band Moody Blues explores such a journey:

After he had journeyed
And his feet were sore, he was tired
He came upon an orange grove
And he rested
And he lay in the cool
And while he rested, he took to himself an orange and tasted it
And it was good

And he felt the Earth to his spine and he asked
And he saw the tree above him
And the stars
And the veins in the leaf
And the light
And the balance
And he saw magnificent perfection
Whereon he thought of himself in balance
And he knew he was

Just open your eyes and realize the way it’s always been
Just open your mind and you will find the way it’s always been
Just open your heart and that’s a start

And he thought of those he angered
For he was not a violent man
And he thought of those he hurt
For he was not a cruel man
And he thought of those he frightened
For he was not an evil man

And he understood, he understood himself
Upon this he saw that when he was of anger or knew hurt or felt fear
It was because he was not understanding
And he learned compassion
And with his eye of compassion
He saw his enemies like unto himself
And he learned love
Then he was answered

Just open your eyes and realize the way it’s always been
Just open your mind and you will find the way it’s always been
Just open your heart and that’s a start

Do you, do you, do you, do you realize?
Just open your eyes and realize the way it’s always been
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Just open your mind and you will find the way it’s always been
Just open your heart

Just open your heart and that’s a start

Many advocates, myself included, start advocating by reaching out with kindly positioned logic and reason to the government agencies who are clearly mismanaging wild horses, only to be stonewalled or peppered with misinformation by some personnel at the Bureau of Land Management and at the United States Forest Service. 

Most legitimate inquiries made to these agencies are met with narratives driven by a dogma that is based upon intellectual dishonesty, willful ignorance and economically-driven agendas. See “Consumerism vs. Wild Horses.”

Well-meaning wild horse advocates who are met with this push-back and false narratives by agency representatives quickly become disenchanted with these agencies, and who can blame them? Certainly not these agencies who are engaged in such bad behavior.

Sadly, as the journey of the wild horse advocate continues, the majority of information that is encountered about native species American wild horses–which has been published and is reported by so-called mainstream media–is clearly tainted by monetary influences and politics as opposed to the truth about wild horses.

For instance, none of these agencies will reveal that they are aware that the British Knight and world explorer Sir Francis Drake documented his observations of a plethora of wild horses living among the indigenous native peoples of Southwestern Oregon and Northern California in 1580, just 68-years after Columbus first came to America. Details about Drake’s observations are contained in this article.

Shockingly, the source of a majority of falsified and obsolete information regarding American wild horses and their natural history and behavioral ecology comes from public servants working in U.S government agencies, via widespread propaganda that is paid for with American tax dollars. This is arguable malfeasance.

Public servants work for American taxpayers. They’re responsible to Americans, not any political party or to any corporate agenda. 

Public servants are expected to do the right thing–even when it’s not easy. They’re supposed to uphold the highest professional and ethical standards because they are supposed to understand the high expectations the public has for their work, given they are paid with hard-earned taxpayer dollars.

Each public servant takes an oath of employment. 

As part of the oath, public servants swear not just to do their job but to:

  • Serve ethically and with integrity, loyalty, impartiality, and objectivity
  • Put the interests of the public and the public trust, including publicly owned lands and natural resources ahead of their own personal or agency interests
  • Maintain and enhance the public’s trust and confidence in the public service

Contrary to their duty as public servants, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the Department of Interior (DOI) has been caught red-handed promoting falsehoods to the American public and elected officials about American wild horses, including to the Congress of The United States of America. The United States Forest Service (USFS) also supports and repeats the same misrepresentations and is also culpable for the mismanagement of wild horses.

The BLM has been and is currently engaged in an ongoing campaign of willful ignorance combined with a campaign of misinformation via the ongoing propagation of manifestly false statements, including but not limited to this Pinocchio-sized whopper:

“Wild horses have no natural predators …” is a scientifically false statement promoted by the BLM and USFS.

That false statement appears in a so-called management plan (page-1, paragraph 5) that was presented in 2018 to the Congress of The United States in writing in a report titledReport To Congress – Management Options For A Sustainable Wild Horse And Burro Program.” 

Contrary to the misrepresentation in that BLM proffered management plan, it’s a scientific fact that every apex predator in North America is the co-evolved predator of wild horses, including bears, wolves, mountain lions, and coyotes.

Only a corrupted agency would propose to manage any resource starting with a lie.

The treatment of native species American wild horses by the BLM and the USFS is appalling and brutal to say the least. 

This video provides one of many examples of how the BLM and USFS treat wild horses and burros and is a real eye-opener.

The exigent problem faced by these innocent native American species of horses is driven-by greed and ego, as is easily determined by a review of the motivations and resulting actions of these tax-funded government agencies. It’s about control and the money they collect through the monetization of the public’s land and natural resources.

Arguably, natural resource mismanagement is the new tool being used by government agencies to monetize agendas and provide excuses for increasing their own budgets. 

Forest management by the USFS has evolved into a business where little money is spent on forestry and wildfire prevention, and a major portion of their budget is spent on planned fire-fighting. The result is the monetization of our national forests by wildfire

There is a far better, cost-effective solution, as outlined in the article titled; More Fire and Smoke – A Solution for Wildfire?

The truth of the foregoing statement is illuminated by the fact that these agencies are currently stonewalling and ignoring an alternative, cost-effective management plan for wild horses and wildfire called Wild Horse Fire Brigade.

Wild Horse Fire Brigade is a new wild horse management plan that can save American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually via the ecologically and economically appropriate rewilding of wild horses from government holding facilities into carefully selected designated (critical) wilderness areas that are suffering from collapsed native species herbivore populations. This results in the reduction and ongoing maintenance of prodigious annual wildfire fuels (grass and brush), which according to a preponderance of published science results in a reduction of both the frequency and intensity of wildfire.

And in cases where wild horses are being targeted for roundups in areas where they are deemed in conflict, these wild horses can be humanely relocated as unmolested family units into the same carefully selected designated (critical) wilderness areas.  

It’s important to note that it is vitally critical to use the correct herbivore in our designated (critical) wilderness areas. Cattle and sheep (ungulates) are ill-advised and inappropriate grazers in designated (critical) wilderness areas because they digest the seeds of native grasses and plants, and thereby will ultimately strip off native species plants and grasses, which adversely impacts the co-evolved fauna that depends upon native plants and grasses.

The result of reestablishing the native species wild horse herbivory into these wilderness areas with collapsed native species herbivore populations is the symbiotic reduction and ongoing maintenance of un-grazed annual grass and brush. Even if this fuels reduction and maintenance plan accounts for a mere 5% reduction in wildfire frequency, the saving to American taxpayers could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars annually given that the growing costs related to catastrophic wildfires are in the many tens of billions of dollars annually. 

According to a story at KQED, a new study on the comprehensive cost of wildfires estimates that just the 2018 California wildfires led to thousands of deaths, far more than the official count. It also cost the state around $150 billion dollars.

There is no logical reason for the USFS or the BLM to continue ignoring Wild Horse Fire Brigade, even as they incorrectly characterize wild horse advocates as being unreasonable or emotionally driven.


William E. Simpson II is an ethologist living among and studying free-roaming native species American wild horses. William is the award-winning producer of the micro-documentary film Wild Horses.  He is the author of a new Study about the behavioral ecology of wild horses, two published books, and more than 150 published articles on subjects related to wild horses, wildlife, wildfire, and public land (forest) management. He has appeared on NBC NEWS, ABC NEWS, theDoveTV and has been a guest on numerous talk radio shows including the Lars Larson Show, the Bill Meyer Show, and on NPR Jefferson Public Radio.

Check out William’s Film Freeway account for films, studies, TV & radio interviews, and more here

Five on 5 – William E. Simpson II – Wild Horse Fire Brigade


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