Horse Roundups! Can They be Stopped With ‘Fertility Control’?

“Using wild horses to help wildlife and habitat.

The debate about wild horses becomes easier when approached holistically.

Those who say horses don’t ‘belong’ in America’s wild places may not realize that horses, burros, and their ancestors evolved and lived in North America for 60-million years. This is far longer than deer, bighorn, elk and even bison, none of which evolved in America, but migrated from Eurasia during past ice ages.

Those who say ‘modern’ and ‘ancient’ horses aren’t genetically identical might remember that quibbles over genetic purity aren’t used against bison, bighorn, deer, or the multitude of species restored or introduced over the last 150-years.

Biodiversity is good not bad: Bighorn, deer, elk, bear, wolves and other wildlife will do better within an animal community that includes horses, for the simple reason that these species are COMPLIMENTARY, not COMPETITIVE. ‘Protecting’ wildlife from horses is as mistaken as ‘helping’ wildebeest and other African plains animals by killing the zebras with which they share space and co-evolved.

Wild horse opponents are incorrect that horses have no native predators, or that horses are “invasive” (a favorite invasive species biology term which can mean anything). Horses are a superbly adapted North American native, which is why they flourish when reintroduced. Horses have many wild predators, but their main predator is humans. In the absence of human predation wild horses – like pigs – will overpopulate. Their surplus numbers MUST be controlled by human usage.

As ranchers in overgrown and fire prone Idaho forests, we can see that lack of animal impact is the root cause of forest decline. Like cows and goats, horses will open forests, increase food for wildlife, and reduce wildfire frequency and severity by removing flammable tinder – provided they are properly managed.

And last but not least, cattlemen, hunters and horse advocates want the same things, and are natural allies.

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