NOREEN: Take a look. The real culprit is in the mirror

October 4, 2012
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To some Colorado readers this week, Tom Davis became a villain.

Wild horse advocates suspect Davis, who has purchased 1,700 wild horses from the Bureau of Land Management since 2009, has simply sold them to slaughter. Killing wild horses is illegal under the federal law that has governed them since 1971.

A story that ran in The Gazette and the Denver Post this week detailed Davis’s horse trading, as well as the troubled history of the BLM’s wild horse program. The story broke as BLM began conducting another wild horse roundup, expected to gather about 3,500 horses between now and February in Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

Wild horse advocates want the roundups halted.

Ginger Kathrens, executive director of the Cloud Foundation in Colorado Springs, said “If I can keep the BLM from removing thousands and thousands of horses, I will.”

Although there are an estimated 35,000 wild horses in the West, Kathrens said, “What I see is we are losing all our herds.”

BLM’s problem? The agency is charged with maintaining rangeland and it can’t kill the horses, which multiply because predators cannot control the herds’ numbers. BLM has tried to get the public to adopt the animals, but the adoptions don’t nearly keep up the with numbers of horses rounded up.

Thus the formerly romantic mustangs become wards of the state, kept in corrals and fed at taxpayer expense. Crazy, right?

“They have been made welfare horses by the government,” Kathrens said.

Ok, but we can’t just let them keep multiplying. Despite the federal law protecting them, the horses would never be classified as an endangered species. The wild horse would not be there at all if not for man.

The 1971 law calls wild horses “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.” Some might agree that phrase applies to ranching families, too.

But Kathrens backs removing tens of thousands of cattle so there is more food for the horses. So much for ranchers.

Unable to find adoptive homes for all the wild horses, the BLM is unwilling to pay to feed them when they can survive for years — but certainly not as a wild mustang. The answer, as ugly as it seems to some people, is a guy like Davis, who will cull your herd for a price.

The wild horse program, begun with a fundamentally flawed federal law, is what happens when animal rights trump good ecology. We should be able to have wild horses and healthy ranches.

Tom Davis a villain? He is merely a reflection of us and the law our Congress created 41 years ago.

Listen to Barry Noreen on KRDO NewsRadio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM at 6:35 a.m. on Fridays and follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at 719-636-0363 or


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