February 28, 2012
There are more wild horses and burros living in long-term holding pens today than roaming free. Who thinks that’s a good idea?
Who would have even imagined that 40 years after the passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, that we would even be having this conversation? And yet that’s the state of things today, thanks to the Bureau of Land Management.
Don’t spread this around, but I remember when that legislation was passed. I was a seventh-grader, an avid pony clubber, and I was outraged by what was being done to the mustangs. I was also rabidly anti-Nixon, mostly because of the Vietnam War and also because my dad liked him and I decided that whatever my dad stood for politically, I was against.
Still, the legislation passed while Nixon was in office and even if I didn’t like him as a president, the passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act made me feel as though our government stood for some of the right things. It stood for wild horses and it stood for the will of the American people who overwhelmingly called for the mustangs to be protected. For a moment, I thought it also stood for me because, you know, I was a seventh-grader and a horse lover. And who pays seventh-graders and horse lovers any mind?
Well here we are today and Congress isn’t paying seventh-graders or even 70-year-olds any mind when it comes to a lot of issues, including the plight of America’s last wild mustangs and burros. What used to seem like a government that worked to accomplish the people’s business now works to establish businesses as people—and there appear to be more of those who want the mustangs rounded up, slaughtered, gone than ever.
You can read about them in my new article on Forbes.com, “Contraceptives For Wild Horses Are Just What The Government Ordered,”which examines the consequences of the BLM’s Wild Horses and Burros Program and how a lot of special interests are zeroing out the mustangs and laying claim to public lands without paying much for the privilege.
I spent about a month studying the issues, talking to a lot of people, hearing about their work and methods, watching YouTube videos and DVDs, looking at photos, reading reports they sent me and checking on various facts by browsing the BLM web site and comparing it against other data.
Trying to narrow down a story from so much available information was really hard. The data was buried all over the place and the issues never became clearer. They simply multiplied the more I dug.
Over the last month, I gave up a couple of times—but a small voice kept protesting. Don’t stop, keep going!
Please read and share the article and photo gallery, Rounding Up America’s Wild Horses. Follow me on Forbes.com and Twitter. Leave a comment and be part of the conversation there. My inner seventh-grader thanks you.