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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Misfit Management

Published 02/25/10
By Susan Trout, Program Assistant

Some of you may remember The Misfits, a 1961 movie starring Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. Gable portrayed an aging cowboy who caught wild mustangs that he sold for slaughter. As a child I found it very upsetting to watch those wild horses fight nearly to exhaustion for their freedom.

Fast forward to 2010. For those who care about these magnificent horses and burros, the anguish is as strong and the fight for their protection as critical as it’s ever been. Over the years people from all walks of life — from movie stars to politicians — have championed the cause of protecting and preserving one of our national treasures — the wild mustang. But the various interests involved clash on how best to protect and “manage” their numbers and, sadly, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is failing to humanely address this important issue.

Based on recent news reports the actions of the BLM are creating a firestorm of controversy over the alarming number of horse deaths attributed to the frantic roundups — from young colts to mature stallions. As a longtime horsewoman, it angers me to know what these helicopter-hazing chases can do to the hardiest and strongest animals. There clearly needs to be a complete review of the BLM’s practices and the detrimental effect they are having on the animals.

No caring animal lover wants to see horses die of starvation on rangeland that not only supports them but livestock and other wildlife. Yet rounding up and running animals to near exhaustion, which frequently results in serious injuries and death, is just unacceptable. Surely we can do better!

Mankind has benefitted immensely from the horse. Our progress down through the ages would never have happened as quickly without the horse’s faithful service. Is this the way we repay our trusted friend and companion? Run his brothers and sisters to their deaths or force them to live in corrals and feedlots, sometimes languishing there for years?

Our elected officials need to listen to the voice of the people. Please get involved and speak on behalf of these innocent creatures. Contact your congressional representatives and urge them to support legislation that protects and preserves wild horses and burros. Write to Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, and let him know that the Bureau of Land Management’s tactics need a complete overhaul. There is legislation currently pending in Congress. Please contact your elected representatives and urge them to sponsor, or at least support, its passage.

The horse will forever be a symbol of beauty and freedom. Don’t let the greed-driven destroy that symbol!

’Til next time,


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