Protect Mustangs asks CNN to correct glaring error about the indigenous American wild horse

Wild War Horse (Photo © Cynthia Smalley, all rights reserved.)

We were surprised to see CNN publish the error about American wild horses in  Polish pony that survived the Nazis uniting Europe’s nature reserves. The author states that zoologists claim the American mustang is not a wild horse so we sent them comments and are asking for them to correct their article.  Here are our comments:

RE: Shocking Error Published by CNN

American wild horses, aka mustangs, are an indigenous species. The horse originated in North America.

The author of this article appears to make erroneous claims about American mustangs, “zoologists say that strictly speaking these are really feral domesticated horses.” That is incorrect. Recent science proves mustangs are not only a wildlife species but most importantly indigenous.

Which zoologists are claiming the American mustang is not a wild horse but a “feral” back alley horse? Why didn’t the author cite the names of the alleged zoologists?

Most zoologists are familiar with the work of PhD.s J.F. Kirkpatrick and P.M. Fazio and the revised January 2010 paper Wild Horses as Native North American Wildlife. The Science and Conservation Center, ZooMontana, Billings. 8 pages seen here:

Their scientific paper states, “Thus, based on a great deal of paleontological data, the origin of E. caballus is thought to be about two million years ago, and it originated in North America.”

Also the paper cites, “The fact that horses were domesticated before they were reintroduced matters little from a biological viewpoint. They are the same species that originated here, and whether or not they were domesticated is quite irrelevant. Domestication altered little biology, and we can see that in the phenomenon called “going wild,” where wild horses revert to ancient behavioral patterns. Feist and McCullough (1976) dubbed this “social conservation” in his paper on behavior patterns and communication in the Pryor Mountain wild horses. The reemergence of primitive behaviors, resembling those of the plains zebra, indicated to him the shallowness of domestication in horses.”

We kindly request CNN correct this error immediately.


Anne Novak

Executive Director of Protect Mustangs


Taking action to inform, protect and help America’s wild horses

CNN Article:

5 thoughts on “Protect Mustangs asks CNN to correct glaring error about the indigenous American wild horse

  1. I also await a correction by CNN, and or the names of the American Zoologists that claim the horse is not indigeous to North America as recent scientific findings and reports claim.

    From an individual standpoint, it appears that CNN is bias against the American Wild Mustangs and the current movement in the USA to stop the slaughter of them, which is “Saving the Wild Mustangs” and to Overturn the Legalization of Horse Slaughter for Human Consumption as 80% of us disapprove. If it were not for big lobby $$$ the bills pending in Congress to protect American wild mustangs would be law. Lastly, CNN printing an article that compares the Nazi’s WWII criminal acts of human selection also with beasts such as the European wild horses, the ‘tarpan’ just sent shivers down my spine!

  2. We support you “Protect Mustangs”~: and stand with you in truth.. our wild horses and burros are “native” to North America. “ “Dear Ms. Simon,
    I am writing to briefly comment on your WSJ article on wild horse castration, but only with regard to a particular scientific issue: the “native” or “endemic” vs. “alien” or “invasive” status of wild horses in North America. Although these terms are used in different ways by different people or interest groups, I’ll stick with an evolutionary definition of a “native” species as being one that differentiated or diverged from its immediate ancestor species within a specific geographical locale.
    In my view, the primary considerations are these:
    1. It is correct that the standing crop of wild horses in the US is recently derived from lines domesticated in Europe (and Asia).
    2. But those lines themselves go much further back in time, and converge on populations that lived in North America during the latter part of the Pleistocene (2.5M to 10k years ago). The evidence for this, until recently, has been primarily morphological, based on comparisons of living vs. fossil horses. The genetic evidence from ancient DNA is still preliminary, but it seems to point to the same conclusion, which is that the species Equus caballus–the species encompassing all domestic horses and their wild progenitors–arose on this continent.
    3. The evidence thus favors the view that this species is “native” to North America, given any rational understanding of the term “native”. By contrast, there are no paleontological or genetic grounds for concluding that it is native to any other continent.
    4. From a scientific standpoint, it is completely irrelevant that native horses died out in North America 10,000 years ago, or that later populations were domesticated in central Asia 6000 years ago. Such considerations have no bearing on their status as having originated on this continent.
    5. It is worth noting that dozens of other species in addition to native horses died out at the close of the Pleistocene, in an episode termed the megafaunal extinctions. The only major difference is that, long before 10,000 bp, E. caballus had established itself on other continents (South America as well as Eurasia) by crossing landbridges. There they survived. Reintroduction to North America 500 years ago is, biologically, a non-event: horses were merely returned to part of their former native range, where they have since prospered because ecologically they never left.
    5. Whether these considerations should play a role in policy decisions I leave to others. At the same time, it needs to be more widely understood that the horse’s status as a native North American species is beyond serious question, whatever side of the debate over wild horse control one leans toward.
    Ross MacPhee, PhD
    Division of Vertebrate Zoology
    American Museum of Natural History
    New York NY 10024

  3. Rather slipshod reporting, CNN! Dr.’s Jay Kirpatrick and Patricia Fazio of the Science and Conservation Center, ZooMontana have published work that, not only is North America the plan of origon for all equid species, furthermore, there are no significant genetic differences between the original horse of 10,000 years ago and the domesticated varieties of horses that exist today.
    Dr Craig Downer, in his book, “The Wild Horse Conspriacy”, has detailed how the horse is a “keystone species” in the North American ecosystem and that the drastic reductions in numbers of horses by the BLM is the cause of significant degradation of the ecology of the west, furthermore, currently under investigation by scientists is the relation between removal of the horses by the BLM and the catistrophic range fires in the west. this is because the real invasive species in the west is a kind of grass called “cheat grass”. Cheat grass is a significant player in fire risk.
    The role of horses is this: Wild horses range on average 20 miles or more daily to find food and water and significantly reduce cheat grass. However, cattle, which outnumber horses 50 to 1 on the range don’t move around much….they hang around the water sources fouling them and don’t go far searching for food.
    Recent finiding details in thewildlifenews describe the latest research releases that welfare ranching (leasing our public lands to ranchers to exploit) is the main source of ecological destruction in the west. before i sumit and article, i do a bit more research that one source…..are your writers too lazy to do that?

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