Current read: The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown
Did you know nearly 37,000 wild horses and burros --descendants of the Wild West -- roam Nevada, California, and Wyoming? Another 32,000 are tended in corrals and pastures in Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. While the Bureau of Land Management rounds p thousands annually for adoption, there have been fewer takers the last few years.
In recent months, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Ken Salazar had warned that the slaughter of many of these animals might be inevitable. Water and forage are limited in the West, he said, and drought and wildfire threaten both range land and the animals' well-being. There are actually ranchers, Western lawmakers, and even a few Native American groups who long for this practice! Fortunately, Salazer, who is a former rancher, rejects this idea along with most of the American public.
Secretary Salazer has just announced to Congress a new plan to protect both the animals and range by moving thousands of horses and burros to preserves in the Midwest and East. Five preserves in addition to two already maintained would become refuge for 25,000 wild horses and burros. Many remaining on the range would be neutered, and reproduction closely monitored.
The planned preserves, essentially large ranches, would be accessible to the public, ecotourism. Salazar's plan is highly praised as it reverses decades of government policies that consider these critters "nuisances."
The thought of slaughter broke my heart. Horses and burros are tightly woven into the fabric of the Old West. I almost wish those buckaroos were called horseboys in honor of those elegant, hardworking, temperamental equines. And as for burros, well, I just love them and have sponsored three at a sanctuary in Israel.
If only I lived on a farm or ranch and not a typical suburban cul-de-sac. There would be no end to the number of critters in my homegrown zoo. (I'll write about the Safe Haven for Donkeys in Israel soon.)
And maybe Salazer's compassion will reverse the recent horrible decision to open hunting of wolves in Idaho. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. HOWL!