1 Nov. 2011
Save the American Wild Mustangs
Before there were skyscrapers, before there were convenience stores, and before there were neighborhood developments, our plains and mountains were home to the American Wild Mustang. These magnificent animals are our past, our present, and with proper handling our future. It is imperative that we protect the American Wild Mustang to ensure that many generations to come can appreciate them as we do today. By supporting the gathering, training, auctions, and domestication that the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management conducts we can preserve this heritage. In doing so, we are securing the future of these horses and the happiness that they bring to many people across America.
These magnificent animals are so closely related to what the West was built upon. They have such powerful strides, beautiful grace, reflexes as quick as light, keen sight and hearing, and survival skills a hundred times more successful than many animals in the wild. Mustangs’ growth patterns are different from domesticated horses. On average the typical mustang does not grow as tall as other horses; hence, the environment they are born into does not yield as much food to them. Instead, they are more compact and possess stronger legs, stronger hoofs, and higher bone density, allowing for them to withstand the rigors of running wild. Mustangs’ also have incredible eyesight and hearing. The lead stallion of the herd will lag behind and alert the others of any kind of predator that may be nearby. Such predators could be mountain lions, bears, and sometimes humans. (Lamb and Johnson). Some people and organizations may say that with such attributes they should be left in the wild. Agreement is logical with such beliefs, as some of the mustangs should remain in the wild; in doing so they can continue to breed. However, leaving the mustang herds completely alone is considered by many to be animal abuse, because they are starving to death and inbreeding.
These horses are overpopulating and are in some cases inbred. Science has shown the risks of any animal being inbred, which can lead to many health issues, such as club foot. Anyone who knows much about horses knows that there are two things that are a worry. One is colic; the other is the horse’s hooves. If a horse is lame, risk arises that it will become prey to other animals, sadly, sometimes even its own kind. It is not uncommon for the alpha stallion to go to any lengths to protect his herd; this means that if one horse is slowing down the others, the stallion will kill the “weak link.” Mr. Franklin Levinson owns and operates the website; “Way of the Horse”. This site is where people can write to ask questions about horse behavior, and ways to correct bad behavior. One of the articles that Levinson wrote about is the history of a horse’s behavior specifically, how they will kill the weak or deformed to insure that food will be available to sustain the strong. It is all about the strong surviving.
In 1971 the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act (ROAM Act), was passed, for the protection of mustangs and burros to insure they would not be slaughtered or hunted for sport. The Act provides protection for them, which is enforced by the BLM, as well as land to be set aside for them to roam. The BLM is also responsible for monitoring the growth of mustang herds. Because of the Act, the BLM is the only agency that is now allowed to gather and capture mustangs. James Lewis writes in The Newsmagazine of Veterinary Medicine, that in previous years, no agency protected the mustangs; therefore, they were hunted for sport or captured and shipped to Mexico or Europe to be slaughtered for meat. They were also sold to pet food plants to be made into dog or cat food. Without the protection that the BLM offers to the mustang herds, such tragedy would still occur today.