Wild horses restore fire damaged ecosystems

Wildlife Biologist Craig Downer (Photo © Cat Kindsfather)


Statement from Craig Downer, Wildlife Biologist, Wild Horse & Burro Expert

SAN FRANCISCO (November 6, 2011)–Esteemed wildlife biologist and wild horse and burro expert, Craig Downer, has given Protect Mustangs a statement explaining how wild horses help reseed the land after a wildfire. The preservation group urges the Bureau of Land Management to keep the remaining wild horses on the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA) to assist in healing and reseeding the land after this summer’s Rush Fire.

“We oppose rounding up and removing wild horses from the Twin Peaks HMA especially now that they can play a key role in restoring the land,” states Anne Novak, executive director for Protect Mustangs. “It’s time the BLM use good science and cut down on invasive techniques that cause global warming. Wild horses and burros can heal and reseed the range after the wildfire so let them do it.”

Statement from Craig Downer, acclaimed wildlife biologist and wild horse expert:

Wild Horses as restorers of a fire-damaged ecosystem

The wild horses would be the perfect restorers of an ecosystem after an extensive fire, since they would disperse many intact seeds in their feces which would form well-fertilized bed for their germination. The feces of the wild horses more greatly feeds the ecosystem and creates the vital humus component of the soils to a greater degree than is the case with most ruminants, such as cows, sheep, and deer.

Also, after passing through the post-gastric digestive tract of horses and burros, many seeds are perfectly conditioned for germination, as they have their coats made softer and more penetrable by the tender shoots. Many of these same seeds are killed after passing through a ruminant’s digestive tract.

In the Twin Peaks, the wild horses and burros would be the perfect, for natural, agents for ecosystem restoration for the above reasons and also because of their great mobility. They do not camp on wet meadows and around and in water sources as do cattle, for example.

Also most of the Twin Peaks HMA ecosystem did not burn and the wild horses and burros who survived the fire could subsist here then go reoccupying the recently burned areas as they are restored, all the while aiding in this process.


Protect Mustangs is a California-based preservation group whose mission is to educate the public about the American wild horse, protect and research wild horses on the range and help those who have lost their freedom.  

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Media Contacts:

Anne Novak, 415-531-8454  Anne@ProtectMustangs.org

Kerry Becklund, 510-502-1913  Kerry@ProtectMustangs.org