The last wild horses
The horse is a universal symbol for freedom, but now the wild horses in the US are about to become eradicated.
I have been visiting people who are fighting for them to survive and this is an ongoing project.
While the majority of Americans value wild horses and want to see them preserved and protected, the Bureau of Land Management who is in charge of all public land, plans to eradicate wild horses, while continuing to allow intensive commercial livestock grazing on public lands. Destroying such a strong symbol of freedom merely for the pursuit of profit is a reminder of the distance between the dream of freedom and the cynical view many people and governments have of nature today. What happens when we fail to protect the wild animals, when we tame nature into an obedient tool. The hunt for the last wild horses is a prey on a threatened species, like so many before. But also a predatory act on man's dream of being able to live with the wild, to be in harmony with nature instead of being its superior.
100 years ago there were over a million wild horses. Today the Bureau of Land Management estimates that there are around 80,000 wild horses on public land but sets a population cap at no more than around 20,000 total. The Bureau of Land Management has an agreement with farmers around the country to allow their animals to graze on public land. These farmers continue to push for more pasture for their livestock to see to the meat industry. They believe that the wild horses compete with their animals for access to grass and water. However, with the permission of the Bureau of Land Management, the farmers have about one million cattle grazing on these public lands which in turn pushes the wild horses out of those places.
Each year, the Bureau of Land Management uses low flying helicopters to brutally capture, and remove wild horses by the thousands. The horses are then stockpiled in small government holding facilities. Only a few of the horses get auctioned off and they are sold for such a low price so they often end up in the wrong hands where they are abused.
I have had the opportunity to visit the Wild Horse Rescue Center in Florida several times the past few years.
It is run by a woman named Diane Delano and she rehabilitates some of these abused horses and also try to tame them so that they can be placed in new loving homes. Diane and her volunteers have saved hundreds of horses. Unfortunately it is illegal to free wild horses once they are captured by the Bureau of Land Management.
I went to Colorado to meet Ginger Kathrens, a documentary filmmaker who fought her whole life to change the laws to better protect wild horses. I also visited Ramona Sierra in Utah, she works with rehabilitating animals and people suffering from post-traumatic stress. And a few years ago I went to South Dakota to meet Dayton O. Hyde an old cowboy who had bought a huge piece of land and then bought 600 wild horses from the Bureau of Land Management to then release those horses into the wild again on his own land, now their sanctuary. Daton O. Hyde passed away at the age of 93 but his legacy lives on, those horses will always be free.
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