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Are wild horses of the American West native?

Posted on Wednesday, 22 June, 2011 | Comment icon 53 comments | News tip by: Still Waters

Image credit: CC 2.0

By Offeiriad, Staff News Writer

Groups claim that horses in western US should be treated and protected like elk or antelope.

1.5 million years ago, the modern species of horse - equus caballus - roamed the land of North America. 10,000 years ago, they died out and what exists now is decended from domesticated European stock. Animal rights groups believe the longevity of this species' prior existence in North America means that horses are native to this country. The US Bureau of Land Management disagrees and their fight is coming before the US federal court.

"The wild horses of the American west should be considered a native species as fully deserving of protection as elk or antelope, even though they are the descendants of domestic livestock introduced by European settlers."

  View: Full article |  Source: New Scientist

  Discuss: View comments (53)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #44 Posted by SilverCougar on 21 June, 2011, 20:13
Or the prairie dogs.. *chuckles*
Comment icon #45 Posted by MJNYC on 22 June, 2011, 13:52
What the article failed to mention is that the BLM is breaking the law by rounding up and removing the wild horses from their land, because the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro act prohibits the government from removing the horses from the land. The BLM was supposed to be the horses "Protector" instead it has become the horse's jailer. The BLM is presently holding 33,000 horses that they removed from land designated for the horses because the BLM is in the pocket of the ranchers who lease our land for $6.00 per acre from the government so that their cattle can graze. This land b... [More]
Comment icon #46 Posted by crisb on 22 June, 2011, 14:19
It wasn't long ago that 36,000 wild horses were going to be slaughtered. Whether some like it or not, they belong here and we're the intruders. They are a part of our National history, our History. Have any of you ever saw a herd running through parts of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming? It's beautiful to watch. The first skeleton of a horse was discovered in the US. We have to protect them at all costs.
Comment icon #47 Posted by jaguarsky on 22 June, 2011, 15:05
From Live Science; Modern horses, zebras, and asses belong to the genus Equus, the only surviving genus in a once diverse family, the Equidae. Based on fossil records, the genus appears to have originated in North America about 4 million years ago and spread to Eurasia (presumably by crossing the Bering land bridge) 2 to 3 million years ago. Following that original emigration, there were additional westward migrations to Asia and return migrations back to North America, as well as several extinctions of Equus species in North America. The last prehistoric North American horses died out betw... [More]
Comment icon #48 Posted by Sundew on 22 June, 2011, 20:36
Because they have been such a part of the American West, they probably should not be completely removed. As to whether they should be controlled or allowed to breed and roam unchecked, it really should depend on whether they fill the ecological void left by the extinction of our native horses. This would be difficult to say, not knowing exactly how they lived, but they likely led similar lives (for "a horse is a horse, of course of course"). If one wanted a truly wild species perhaps Przewalski's Horses would fill the bill, but to prevent interbreeding the Mustangs would have to... [More]
Comment icon #49 Posted by TheSpoonyOne on 22 June, 2011, 21:45
So routinely hunted, shot and stuffed as trophies then?
Comment icon #50 Posted by farandaway on 23 June, 2011, 8:04
[left] [/left] LOL TheSpoonyOne But that probably sums it up, American style! I believe there was a school of thought---that if they rid the plains of buffalo, they would also rid the plains of native peoples. Now it seems they are trying to do the same with the horses. I think there should be room for these animals, King Cattle needs to not be so greedy. [left] [/left]
Comment icon #51 Posted by MJNYC on 23 June, 2011, 14:38
Absolutely must stop - the BLM is breaking the law. I heard one foal lost her hooves for being run down a mountain for hours. What sick creep could do that you might ask? Well, on top of all the other nonsense the that BLM has pulled they have hired a /convicted/ animal abuser to fly the helicopter. Top that one. and one more thing - in 2009 on Labor Day weekend they held a roundup of "Cloud's" herd - look up the Cloud Foundation and you will be amazed. But, what I wanted to add is that because they didn't announce this roundup and held it on Labor Day there was litt... [More]
Comment icon #52 Posted by Gatofeo on 24 June, 2011, 0:47
I live in the remote Utah desert, where mustangs (wild horses) are common. I seen them at least once a week. They are NOT native to North America and should not be given such status. Moreover, the desert can only sustain X-number of any given species. If you allow one species' population to explode, because of foolish sentiment, it will be at the expense of other species. But most of you don't see that. You see the propaganda spewed by groups who base their entire view on emotions, and blindly follow their party line. Removing some horses is necessary. I've seen years where mustang... [More]
Comment icon #53 Posted by Xpeople on 24 June, 2011, 19:16
This article raises an interesting question. Did the horse really became extinct?

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