Indigenous wild horses are not ‘feral’ and should stay on public land

Photo ©Rachel Anne Reeves all rights reserved

For immediate release:

Breaking News: Native wild horses misclassified to push for massive removals

Conservation group wants error fixed and wild horses used to combat desertification

SAN FRANCISCO, Ca. (November 28, 2012)–Native wild horses have been erroneously classified as “feral” horses in the recent publication in the journal Environmental Management. The authors of the report call for wild horse removals from U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management rangeland–to fight climate change. The report also calls for the removal of livestock grazing on public land and reintroduction of predators to control native ungulate populations.

Protect Mustangs is asking for the errors to be corrected because America’s wild horses are a native species and play an important role in reversing desertification. The horse E. caballus originated in North America. The Conquistadors reintroduced the native species to it’s native land. Americans want these native ungulates also known as the American mustang–to be protected.

“This report has glaring errors,” states Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs. “It avoids classifying America’s wild horses as natives to justify removing them from large areas of public land. Commercial livestock and the extractive industry is destroying the range not wild horses. We object to the proposal to remove native wild horses. We request they rectify the error calling them “feral” horses. Indigenous wild horses need to be protected not wiped out. They can help heal the land.”

Science proves wild horses are native wildlife in North America. According to a paper by esteemed PhD.s J.F. Kirkpatrick and P.M. Fazio entitled Wild Horses as Native North American Wildlife:

“The key element in describing an animal as a native species is (1) where it originated; and (2) whether or not it co‐evolved with its habitat. Clearly, E. 6 caballus did both, here in North American. There might be arguments about ‘breeds,’ but there are no scientific grounds for arguments about ‘species’.”


“The non‐native, feral, and exotic designations given by agencies are not merely reflections of their failure to understand modern science but also a reflection of their desire to preserve old ways of thinking to keep alive the conflict between a species (wild horses), with no economic value anymore (by law), and the economic value of commercial livestock.”

The newly published Environmental Management report titled Adapting to Climate Change on Western Public Lands: Addressing the Ecological Effects of Domestic, Wild and Feral Ungulates calls to protect large tracts of the range and suggests climate change will worsen impacts. The report calls to remove the miscategorized “feral” horses as well as burros from large areas of public land.

In contrast, Princeton University and the Savory Institute have stated wild herds heal the grasslands. Recently Princeton published studies mentioned in Wildlife and cows can be partners not enemies in search for food. The Savory Institute has proved that Holistic Management, which mimics wild herds such as wild horses, can heal the land so livestock can thrive.

“Removing the very last of the wild herds is a bad idea and calling native wild horses feral is bad science,” states Inez Fort, vice president of Protect Mustangs’ board of directors.

Protect Mustangs is asking the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to utilize native wild horse herds to combat climate change and help livestock grazing programs on public land. Reintroducing predators, to control population in a natural way, is deemed acceptable by the wild horse conservation group.

“Native wild horses heal the wild land–they can reverse desertification and replenish the biodiversity of the West,” explains Novak.

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Media Contacts:

Anne Novak, 415-531-8454

Kerry Becklund, 510-502-1913

Links of interest:

Environmental Management report titled Adapting to Climate Change on Western Public Lands: Addressing the Ecological Effects of Domestic, Wild and Feral Ungulates:

Princeton University: Wildlife and cows can be partners, not enemies, in the search for food

How Copying Nature can Reverse Desertification in it’s Tracks:

Holistic Planned Grazing according to the Savory Institute:

Native wild horses:

Feds plan to roundup of 3,500 wild horses, burros in six western states:

Link to this press release

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