An editorial of an educator, with some facts thrown in….
by Val Cecama-Hogsett
I often wonder if I am talking to myself, if people think I am paranoid or some conspiracy nut. I get really frustrated because I see a picture, I see if unfolding and growing, and I see the path that has to be followed to get to an outcome I can live with.
We all have such unique perspectives and the way we interpret information is just as unique. Those individual perceptions can take people in different directions, and that is necessary for a diverse and productive society.
That said, it makes moving forward as a cohesive unit very difficult. And right now, the wild horse advocacy has failed as a cohesive unit. But that’s not something I want to address here, I just can’t focus on the negative.
I once asked my husband, “Why is it so damn hard to protect these wild horses? People protect bears, wolves, birds, all kinds of things. WHY can’t we fight for and get anywhere for our wild horses?
His reply was so simple it stunned me, but he is absolutely correct. He said, “Seeing a wolf or a bear in the wild, for most people, is a once in a lifetime experience. Seeing a horse in the wild, to most people, is something they see every day as they drive past them in pastures. They don’t see the difference between the domestic horses and a wild horse.”
Mull that over a bit…….makes sense right? So we have to show these wild horses, and HOW they are different from domestic horses. Wait? Can we? No. why? Because domestic horses are the same species, the same genus, equus caballus. When you take a horse from the wild, you can tame it to make a domestic animal, but if you set it free again…it forgets everything you have done and is once more wild.
Again….digest that…..get it now? Wild horses, domestic horses, really all horses are wild, tamed perhaps, bred in captivity yes, certain physical traits bred in or out yes, but has it change the horse? NO…all horses technically are wild, tame maybe in captivity, but all came from the horses that were here for 58 million years…it doesn’t matter if they left and were brought back, and the ecosystem changes here were the same in Europe, wild horses evolved with plant changes, animals species change. They evolved and adapted and are surviving and thriving on this continent.
People compare wild horse to domestic horse as they do wold to dog. The two situations are completely different. When wolves began being bred in captivity they changed. As certain traits were bred in our out dogs underwent physical, biological and behavior changes that created a new genus. That has never been the case with horses. Their ears never flopped, but are instead still erect with a slight inward curl. Their tails never curled , but most of all, the never became unable to survive in the wilds on their own. You may see stray dogs that form a pack and hunt, and sometimes they are successful. However, most of the time a dog will stay close to people when they do not have a home, they look to people to help them, feed them etc.
So where do we go from here, what is the biggest obstacle? We need to be a bigger, louder voice than we are. Why can’t we be? How do opponents of wild horses gain so much control and have so much success?
These were things that had to be answered in order to see the path forward that I believe will work. This is when I researched the livestock industry, the Bundy’s and their claims that just were outlandish to me. I was stunned to find what I did. These people, and there are MANY MANY MANY of them. are so organized, and very well funded, and they have a lot of power.
I realized that most wild horse opponents are ranchers, there are some others, oil, gas, etc., but most of them are ranchers. The reason they have decided to focus on wild horses I believe is two-fold. I believe it is a battle that appears to be over land…but it isn’t. It is also a battle to stop what they see as a ‘slippery slope’ leading to more and more animal rights which flies in the face of using cows simply to make a profit.
Let’s look at the first again, Is it or isn’t it a battle over our public lands? Is it because they want all the land? Is it because they want all the forage for their livestock? I don’t think so. I believe if they could not make the claims they do about wild horses destroying riparian areas and delicate western lands, they would be in the spotlight even more for all the damage being done by the livestock. Think of it as one sibling blaming the other when caught by their parents doing something wrong. The wild horses are just being used as a scapegoat for the livestock damage.
The second is the fear of animal rights gaining any momentum. They fear any progress humans make in respecting any animal as a sentient being, as having the right to freedom. It threatens their way of life, and if these wild horses win they have stated it is a beginning of a slippery slope that will be the end of their livelihood. I think they are a bit dramatic. What wild horse advocates, at least the ones who walk in my journey with me, want corporations off public lands. We have no issue with a small family farm, THAT was the way of the west, the culture, and heritage we love. But that is NOT the common case out here now. We have the majority of permits for grazing on public lands being handed to huge corporations.
Why would a family whose been using public lands to graze cows and support their family, need over 2 million acres of public lands? The don’t, but a corporation does! As a taxpayer, I am not ok with paying for the land management which in turn wants to gather, remove and kill my wild horses.
I am not ok with paying for an agency whose only mission is to kill predators of livestock (wolves, mountain lions, bears). And I am not ok with paying billions of dollars in subsidies for ranchers, the majority of which are corporations. I don’t eat the product, I don’t use the leather, very little of it is even kept in this country. But while I lose value of the property they damage, and I lose my wildlife, I am not being subsidized for those losses by receipt of some of their profits am I?
I elect people who are supposed to represent ME, not corporate, special interest groups. So why have I found connection after connection that started at the boots of Cliven Bundy, and worked it’s way to POTUS. Why didn’t anyone hear me when I started screaming about the connections and power these thugs had 2 years ago?
Can you hear me now?
Read a 3 part series by this author here:
Other interesting reading on the subject:
Welcome to the Bundy administration The scofflaw rancher’s friends reach all the way to the too
It was only a matter of time … by Caren Cowan, exec. director, NM Cattle Growers Assoc.
TAKE ACTION NOW – TELL EPA TO KILL WOTUS – a livestock industry reaction to court ruling in favor of wild horses.