December 10, 2020 - 9:00 pm
Wild horses — feral animals released from domestic work to public lands and touted as icons of freedom — have become an $80 million business. The herds can double in size within four years and faithfully receive increased federal funding.
The horses have multiplied beyond range sustainability, and roughly half of our wild horses are now maintained on beautiful Bureau of Land Management ranches. The remaining 40,000 animals are still multiplying. A number of solutions to herd management have emerged.
Several years ago, the solution was female birth control shots requiring annual roundups, separation of the females and veterinarian-administered shots. This was discarded as too expensive. The newly proposed solution is even more expensive and is horrific.
The new solution being initiated in Utah is called an “ovariectomy.” (Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 22). The ovaries are surgically crushed and removed by certified veterinarians. The process is expensive and risky.
I was raised on a Southwest ranch, and the proposed solutions move me to wondering about the sanity of our public representatives. They seem to be male-centric in that they focus on female reproduction. The easiest and cheapest way to curtail herd growth is to “fix” the males.
We know where the horses drink and can set up corrals with some alfalfa hay. Close the gate when the horses come to feast. No roundup needed. A few cowboys can rope the males, turn them into sopranos and the herds will diminish in size. Such a program could reduce the herds to sustainable range support and allow us to sell the expensive federal ranches and to place our money into human needs.