I posted an elaborate post about this two days ago, but it has vanished so here’s just a little piece to make up for lost time.
The Question: HOW IS A HORSE DETERMINED TO BE CALLED WILD OR LABELED FERAL?
At the beginning of my film “The Definition of a wild horse is one who roams freely within it’s home territory,within a social hierarchy adapting to it’s habitat over time.”.
The BLM classifies the wild horses as livestock or feral because there is a history of ranchers releasing large studs to breed wild mares thus giving the ranchers access to rope for larger stock – then “bust” or turn into rodeo bucking horses. The horses in the wild are all a “hybrid”. If people believe there wasn’t a trace of horses on this continent before Cortez then they have an excuse to call them all feral – ranch released – trespassers. But like Mary Ann says in the film “there’s not a horse out there that doesn’t believe it’s wild. It was born wild, it lives wild and it adapts and survives over time with it’s herd over time as wild.”
Question 2: HOW DO SOME WILD HORSES HAVE DIFFERENT DESIGNATIONS AND PROTECTIONS LIKE THE HORSES ON THE EAST COAST?
The horses back east all have traceable history, like shipwrecks and so on. Most of those bands are protected under what has developed into private/ civic protection. You can read the Wild Horse Burro and Protection Act as a pdf on the BLM website. The law protects the herds as “wild” and free-roaming but as Tom Gorey of the BLM states in my film, there are a lot of other laws, prior and after that have made it possible for the Department of Interior and BLM to work around and manipulate that law. If the law was as a clear and unencumbered as some advocates want to believe, then law suits would have been won by the wild horse advocates by now. The Taylor Grazing act of the 30’s is like The Ten Commandments of the range and of course who owns the water. Conservation groups like Western Water Sheds project, Wild Earth Guardians and more work at buying up old ranches, water rights and grazing permits. They retire the grazing permits and put the ranch land into a conservation trust and allow the water to be returned to nature. Western Water Sheds sees the wild horse as wild but not very many environmental groups do. If more would, then the horses would have more influential friends. That is one of my goals in making the film. – Mara