Vickery Eckhoff responds to “Wild Horses, BLM and Logical Solutions” FB page


December 4, 2015
Vickery Eckhoff

I got kicked off the Wild Horses, BLM and Logical Solutions FB page after posting James McWilliams’ article on Mustang-Safe beef labeling and sticking around to debate it with the group members there. Don’t lament this, folks. It’s their page. They make the rules. And one of the apparent guiding principles is to center every discussion (and solution) around bringing WHB populations down to appropriate management levels (AML). That is their idea of “logical solutions.” But it isn’t mine.

So I went on over to the BLM’s WHB Program FB page and posted this:


“Let’s be real.

AML is all about preserving higher stocking numbers of cattle than wild horses, not about providing ecological balance under multiple uses. Livestock producers keep arguing that getting down to AML and adopting out a few WHB are necessary to reduce overgrazing, preserve public grass and forest land. But they don’t provide proof that it’s horses doing the damage.

There happens to be extensive proof on the other side: data showing the degree to which private livestock outnumber WHB. How long are those looking to remove more wild horses going to pretend this isn’t relevant, and keep trying to silence those who bring it up?

Yes, there are fewer livestock on public lands today compared to years past. This is obviously hard on ranchers. Yes, wild horses need to be managed on the range. But the constant drumbeat of “over AML” “adopt out WHB” “use PZP” and “join the WHB advisory board” won’t remove the giant gorilla in the room: the damage is on the livestock side.

Go look for research to the contrary (you can find a sample here on page 14). What little exists says that, because there’s no historical data on grazing by livestock in HMAs, that pinning damage on wild horses is impossible. Go seek out studies on the negative impact of livestock production, both in the US and globally. A search of Google Scholar turns up thousands of results. Read a sample of these studies (available here on page 13). They minimally mention other species (like wild horses) on the condition of public lands. There’s a reason for that.

The COP21 climate talks now going on in Paris will continue to escalate the discussion, and livestock production, as the public is becoming increasingly aware, has a carbon footprint to rival transportation’s, and a massive water footprint, to boot.

If you want to solve the environmental problems that keep getting threaded into the “over AML” argument, you are going to have to confront this preponderance of evidence.

The public is getting informed, albeit slowly.

Why not address the issue within the livestock sector honestly instead of kicking the can down the road? And part of that discussion needs to be the cost of public grazing allotments, which cost taxpayers much more than the WHB program. Frankly, both are burdens on taxpayers, but the federal grazing program is the biggest of all. There needs to be honest discussion on that. Who wants to participate?”


I’m very interested to see who steps forward.

A note to newcomers: I am a writer and journalist published on, Newsweek/The Daily Beast, Alternet, Salon, Laika and the site I run with James McWilliams, The Daily Pitchfork. I used to work for The New York Times, Forbes Inc., Dow Jones and spent some time at The New Yorker and Time Warner. So please do not call me a horse advocate. My only advocacy is to the public and its right to be correctly informed on important policy issues by the media. To this end, I seek out research on the federal grazing program, land use and climate change, as well as data missing from most MSM coverage because it is time-consuming to find and analyze.

reprinted for educational purposes from:

6 thoughts on “Vickery Eckhoff responds to “Wild Horses, BLM and Logical Solutions” FB page

  1. Am sharing on FB. Thank you for writing this.
    It is time we save these horses from extinction .

  2. Excellent expose on the gross unfairness of the status quo establishment toward the wild horses and burros, the gross favoritism of the business-as-usual and very ecologically damaging and life-threatening public lands livestock industry! So many lies! Such ignoble motivations! This must change and quickly!

  3. Thank you raising this critically important issue: The health of our lands. As they say: “Its all in the soil” … and the cattle industry needs to understand this. Applying pressure to Govt and Govt agencies wont make the problem go away. A good read: that address this and the many consequences arising from the industry: “The World Peace Diet” Will Tuttle.

  4. The “Wild Horses, BLM and Logical Solutions” FB page is run by cattle ranchers. You are not the first nor the last to be kicked off the page for bringing up issues that contradict their viewpoints. Its a rite of passage to be removed..not sure why they exist but to have a forum to talk amongst themselves.

  5. Thank you Vickery for going right to the source and pointing out the giant elephant in the room that the BLM refuses to acknowledge. How long can the BLM go on refusing to admit that livestock over-grazing is the issue? Do they think we are all idiots and don’t know how to do research of our own? Anyone that continues to think that wild horses are the culprit, or that their numbers are “exploding” is sticking their head in the sand and are not willing to acknowledge the facts. We advocates are much smarter than they give us credit for and we won’t be silenced.

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