Saturday morning I happened to catch a news story on ABC about the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) catching wild mustangs. It seems the herd is somewhere around 3000 horses and they are trying to get it down to 500. In other words the land has 2500 more horses than it can carry. ABC showed horses that were thin and said some of the horses could not be saved.
A quick history lesson would tell us that the horses came from ancestors turned loose or abandoned by humans starting with the Spanish. Horses are not a native specie, they are introduced. Even as such, they are a part of our western heritage and probably should be maintained. However, grazing lands have only so much carrying capacity (grass for the animals to graze on) and the herd needs to be thinned down.
That is were the rub comes in. It seems a number of celebrities and big names (Willie Nelson and T. Boone Pickins wife) have come out against this reduction of the wild mustang herd. Willie sights the heritage of the mustang and the wild west. Mrs. Pickins is wanting to throw millions of dollars into a refuge where the horses can run free.
What they don't understand is that only so many animals can graze an area of grass. Horses are some of the most aggressive grazers and can quickly damage the grass if not managed correctly. This is very important because the same BLM lands are important grazing lands for local ranchers, many who have been there for generations (yes, family ranches). This does not even take in account the wildlife that depends on this range.
So Mr. Nelson, I too am a fan of the wild mustang. However, we seem to differ in opinion of western heritage. I guess I see the hard-working ranchers who utilize the BLM lands to carry on generation old ranches as preserving our western heritage. Oh and they are providing beef and feeding the world at the same time. So Willie, put that one in your pipe and smoke it.