by JJ Sutton
Colorado – -(Ammoland.com)- Hunters are classified as the largest contributing body of conservationists in North America.
After decades of experience it is known worldwide as the “North American Model” and is being used globally in further conservation efforts.
Thru their individual love of the outdoors Hunters contribute with their fees, licenses, excise taxes, permits, education, and consumerism. Hunters fund a big part of management efforts for habitat, public lands, and animal species. It’s the Hunters and Outdoorsmen’s generosity thru charities, groups, and giving that funds large non-governmental conservation efforts that affect positive changes to public land, access, game habitat, individual species health and population management plans, and can even be credited for helping save some endangered or re-generating at risk game animal populations.
Hunters are starting to connect the dots where invasive species or feral species affect their game animal populations and habitats.
Notably and easily documented is the feral hog costs to the agricultural industries and the dollar amounts Farmers & Ranchers suffer from this invasion, hunters also suffer from lost habitat for game animals. The Lion Fish invasion off the coast of Florida is gaining documented damages as well and other invasive reptiles (snakes) are decimating some habitats.
One area Hunters are JUST starting to realize is causing damage to game animal habitats is the highly politicized mismanagement of feral horses. Hunters are losing game animal populations in once coveted hunting areas for Mule Deer, Elk and other game animals due to the habitat damages caused by feral horses and the total mismanagement of their population numbers. These impacts are costly but also are going to have long term effects on game animal habitats that could take decades; if ever to recover from.
Feral horses are NOT treated the same as “cute” little feral hogs are treated as an invasive species to our wildlands. There is NO season, NO limit, and NO mercy in the fight against feral hogs. Feral horses are considered oh so much more romantic, up to an including actual laws brought forth in the 70s by a school teacher using elementary kids to influence a couple politicians (No science, No facts, No well-funded lobbyists whispering in the ears, but a couple politicians influenced towards a decision by kids as puppets for a hidden agenda.). I wager that feral horses are causing as much if not more in damages both to sensitive habitats and cost wise as feral hogs are causing.
Get the Wild Horse Facts
See and review the fact sheets published by the National Horse & Burro Rangeland Management Coalition who is helping and advocating for a direct responsible approach with ideas on how to manage the feral horse populations within the current legal population requirements. The problem is that non-adoptable and over populated captured feral horses are costing the tax payers approximately $50,000,000 (That’s $50 MILLION) annually just to feed and care for. That number could double if the horse population was grown to the legal management numbers the law states are supposed to be on the ranges.
That does NOT include the dollars it is costing in damages to ranchers & farmers, to our States in lost Hunting revenues, and the incalculable cost in damages that our habitats are suffering due to the overpopulation of horses on the wildlands.
Fact Sheet # 1 : http://www.wildhorserange.org/uploads/2/6/0/7/26070410/nhbrmc_factsheet1_overview-may.16.pdf
Fact Sheet # 1 : http://www.wildhorserange.org/uploads/2/6/0/7/26070410/nhbrmc_factsheet2_managementoptions-may.16.pdf
Wild or Feral Horses , What To Do?
Hunters MUST realize the impacts this issue brings directly to key areas of interest for them and not sit on the fence hoping it gets handled. Hunters need their voices in the conversation and they need to be advocating for the conservation of their game land habitats on all fronts. Hunters need to educate themselves on this complex, political and environmental disaster and why the laws are being ignored. Hunters should realize why Federal Agencies are being prevented from doing their jobs due to outside intimidation and influence from loud minority advocacy groups on the wrong side of logic and science. Now is the time for Hunters to get involved and help make sense of the issues and make sound science based, responsible decisions that allow for the correct population numbers and protecting wildlife habitats and game animal populations. Your voices of reason, true conservationism, and responsible management are needed now more than ever.
- Hunters have a long history of responsible and successful conservation efforts. Hunters also have experience working with the private sector and the government sector on habitat and wildlife management issues.
- Hunters bring to the table large numbers of reasonable thinking true conservation & management ideas and experience.
- Hunters bring to the table advocacy and funding critically needed to balance the imbalance of a well-funded loud minority groups failing to listen to science and reason.
Feral Horses , Where to Start?
National Horse & Burro Rangeland Management Coalition is an organization helping forge alliances and partnerships (see their list of partnerships below; you will be surprised) to help raise awareness for the sound management of our habitats and wildlife as related to the feral horse issues. It truly is a complex issue with much misinformation from the minority groups. Hunters who get educated on the subject will learn how important the issue really is and how well it is aligned to their own conservation minded passions. Sign up and follow their bulletins, social media, etc and get educated on the real issues at hand that include scientific and solid minded ideas for control, conservation, and management. One of the groups you already support is probably a member of their coalition already!
Coalition partnerships of the National Horse & Burro Rangeland Management Coalition:
- National Rifle Association
- Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
- Mule Deer Foundation
- The Wildlife Society – Coalition Chair
- Wild Sheep Foundation
- Safari Club International
- Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation
- Masters of Foxhounds Association
- Public Lands Council
- Public Lands Foundation
- Society for Range Management
- National Wildlife Refuge Association
- American Farm Bureau Federation
- American Sheep Industry Association
- National Association of Conservation Districts
- National Association of Counties
- National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
- National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
- Colorado Wool Growers Association
- Montana Farm Bureau Federation
- Nevada Association of Counties
- Wyoming State Grazing Board Central Committee
- Wyoming Stock Growers Association
Please help raise awareness of this issue and the dangers feral horses pose to our native wildlife and the environment.
JJ Sutton, CPS, CMAS. Writes and contributes on numerous other topics but this cause is near and dear to his heart. JJ grew up on a remote SW Colorado multi-generational ranch which leads him to have a great respect for horses and the benefits they bring to a Ranch, a Farm, and for recreation. It’s painful to watch and see feral horses being caught in the middle of desperate mismanagement. Read more from JJ at ARHunters .