An advocate of the American West's mustangs blasts a proposed government policy to cull the herds.
No Longer Home on the Range
Kill them, corral them, or let them run freewhat's to be done with America's wild mustangs?
By Tony Dokoupil | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Jul 1, 2008 | Updated: 6:12 p.m. ET Jul 1, 2008
After surviving the ice age, the industrial revolution and the slaughterhouse, America's wild horse population is facing a new threat: the U.S. government. The Bureau of Land Management announced this week that it is considering euthanizing wild horses to curb the population on the range and in federal holding facilities. There are an estimated 33,000 wild horses living in 10 Western states, and another 30,000 living in government corrals. The BLM is billing euthanasia as a way to cope with looming budget cuts, while still maintaining the mustang as a living symbol of the American West. But critics say that the herds have already been thinned to the edge of extinction with periodic roundups and auctions. A century ago, there were around 2 million wild horses roaming the West; now the BLM wants to cut that population to 27,000. In "Mustang," her new history of the wild horse in North America, Deanne Stillman explores why America is destroying the horse it rode in on. She spoke about the government's new proposal with NEWSWEEK's Tony Dokoupil. Excerpts:
Humans are also overpopulated, but obviously you're not going to see violence like this to solve that problem. This should get a lot of attention, but it doesn't appear to be getting much at the moment.