Wednesday, June 23, 2010

do we call the cows "feral"?

I don't care how you feel about wild/feral horses. There is something very wrong about targeting them for removal from public lands so that private ranchers have less competition for grazing livestock. Especially when the official population estimates are starting to look a little fishy. Even if the BLM is not over-estimating their numbers, wild horses are still vastly outnumbered by livestock. I'm pretty sure we can do better to share that land.


Retrieverman said...

No horses, burros, sheep or cows on public land.


I'm consistent.

But it's easier to defame cats than feral horses, because they have a huge, huge lobby in DC.

You know what Canada did to its feral horses, which were the same thing as our mustangs?

They were all rounded up. Shot. Rendered into mink chow, and then that was shipped to Atlantic Canada to feed fur-farmed mink.

That can't happen with our population. It's too large, and no one is farming mink.

"Cattle ranching on the public lands of the American West is the most sacred form of public welfare in the United States."

--Edward Abbey

Since we're not going to get rid of those horses, then we have to manage them.

There's not really a public health problem with them.

And then there's the whole Equus lambei discussion, which I don't want to get into here, because we're going to be back to lumping and splitting.

CyborgSuzy said...

It's funny because it's actually coincidence that I was thinking about wild horses yesterday; it had nothing to do with free-roaming cats. Probably because in my mind, they're two very different situations.

Retrieverman said...

Actually, they have a lot in common.

The biggest thing they have in common is that there are cultural reasons for tolerating them.

I do agree that the numbers are very fishy on feral horses. Maybe we can cut them some slack, just because there aren't that many of them.

See, I can think about things and change my mind.

You've seen the debate on Equus lambei, right?

There was a horse that lived in Beringia during the Pleistocene. One was actually uncovered in the Yukon, totally preserved. It looked exactly like an Icelandic horse, the Yakut horse, or the reconstructed Tarpan (Heck horse).

It was radiocarbon dated to the last Ice Age.

Then DNA was extracted.

In terms of its MtDNA, it was almost identical to the modern horse.

That horse was Equus lambei.

One could make the case, then, that the horse is native to North America.

But this was a horse of the Beringian steppes- an ecosystem that doesn't exist anymore.

Species that went extinct a very long time ago due to natural causes are not worth bringing back.

Otherwise, you'll get Jeff Goldblum's analysis in Jurassic Park.

CyborgSuzy said...

LOL, thinking-and-mind-changing duely noted.

It's true that the exact ecosystem that true wild horses lived in doesn't exist in North America now, but range of the western states where feral horses now roam is similar in many ways. Nowadays, feral horses are also the only equids grazing in that ecosystem, which is a different grazing style than any of the remaining native grazers. So, you could still argue that the modern 'feral' horse fills a niche that still exists.