First, below is a history of the mustangs provided by (and all photos courtesy of): National Wild Horse Adoption Day
America’s mustangs are the descendants of wild horses brought to the New World by Spanish explorers and missionaries in the 16th century. Others come from stock that were released or escaped from miners, ranchers, homesteaders and others who settled the West. Although horses evolved in North America there are many different opinions as to why no horses or burros existed on this continent at the time of European exploration. Spanish explorers reintroduced horses to North America beginning in the late fifteenth century and Native Americans helped spread horses throughout the Great Plains and the West. Until as recently as the mid-twentieth century, horses continued to be released onto public lands by the U.S. cavalry, farmers, ranchers, and miners.
The “Pencil War”
By the mid-20th century, domestic markets for pet and chicken feed and European markets for horse meat emerged, further reducing the number of wild horses and burros remaining in the West. Public concern escalated in response to the brutal methods used by mustangers to capture and transport wild horses for sale to rendering plants. Horrified by the gruesome practices, Velma Johnston spearheaded a “Pencil War”, a letter writing campaign that generated more letters to Congress than any single issue besides the Vietnam War! Thousands of letters were written by school children concerned for the horses’ welfare.
Congress passes “the Act”
As populations on western rangelands declined to fewer than 20,000 animals, the Congress of the United States deliberated over the animals’ future and passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burro Act in 1971 (Act). The Act placed America’s mustangs and burros under federal jurisdiction, and charged the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service (USFS) with preserving and protecting wild horses and burros as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.”
Once again, here’s your chance to change the world and make it a more humane place for America’s wild mustangs and burros. Public outcry saved them in 1971 through The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act; I know, by joining together, we can do it again.
It’s a sad thought to imagine losing the wild mustangs and burros to extinction, let alone other outcomes such as slaughter, abuse and neglect, injury, and the terror inflicted during and after BLM round-ups. Just as sad is the thought of the world’s children and future children never having the chance to witness the grace and beauty of these animals — running free as they’re meant to be, on the land America promised them, across this great country born from their backs.
On so many levels, America wouldn’t be America without the horses and burros. The least we can do is protect instead of inflict, respect instead of betray, stand up for instead of turning away, and offer our outrage instead of our apathy. Their lives and well-being depend upon it.
Their continuing presence on this earth depends upon it.
Below is an Action Alert from the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. Please do your part, and thank you for helping save the horses.
– Mustangs on the Hill
Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 29, is ‘Mustangs on the Hill’ Day: Wild horse advocates will be lobbying their Senators for the passage of S.1579, the Restore Our American Mustangs (ROAM) Act.
This critical bill, which passed before the House of Representatives last July, amends the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act by adding important new protections and provisions, such as the banning of helicopter roundups and the reclaiming of land lost by America’s wild horses over the past 30 years.
A press conference will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. in Room 1334 of the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, DC. If you are unable to attend the day’s events, please call your two U.S. Senators, urging them to support the ROAM Act (S.1579). More generally, please urge your Senators to address the mismanagement of our wild horse herds on public lands:
1) Denounce the aggressive wild horse removal campaign currently under way at the behest of special interest groups and at the cost of millions of our tax-dollars.
2) Tell them that our tax-dollars would be better spent on an in-the-wild management program not based on removals.
3) Call for a moratorium on roundups until actual numbers of wild horses on public lands have been independently assessed.
To locate your Senators, please visit www.senate.gov. Please also call the Senate Committee on Natural Resources at 202.224.4971 to express your support for wild horses and the ROAM Act.
– Last of the Mojave Burros
The last remaining wild burro heritage herds in California’s Mojave Desert are threatened with removal this week. Please take advantage of this lobbying day to also call Senator Feinstein’s office at 202.224.3841 and ask her to intercede with BLM officials and put a stop to these roundups.
On behalf of America’s wild horses and burros, thank you for your support!
The AWHPC Team
American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign
All photos courtesy of: National Wild Horse Adoption Day