As a new book makes clear, Velma Johnston, a.k.a. "Wild Horse Annie," must be rolling over in her grave at the peril thousands of America's mustangs once again face today.
The video below depicts a gruesome roundup in northeastern Nevada of a small band of the nation's wild horses: mustangs who, under federal law and policy, must be protected and managed by the very government agents whose helicopters here terrorize, corral, and injure them. This grim roundup, at the Antelope and Antelope Valley Herd Management Area, occurred in early October. It came just a few days after ProPublica, the non-profit, investigative journalism endeavor, published a damning piece accusing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of selling captured wild horses to a known horse slaughterer, which is prohibited by law.
Approximately 180 horses were rounded up in the fashion you're about to watch below. (Or not. I would not show this video to my son, who loves horses.) The Obama Administration's Department of the Interior, led by a rancher, says it must reduce the size of the herd in this particularly violent and dangerous fashion to save the horses from drought and the effects of wildfires, and to bring the herd's number "back into balance with other range land resources and uses." The plan this fall is to "gather" thousands of America's wild horses from nearly 20 venues across the American West, and herd them into dirty, unsafe holding pens -- all at taxpayer expense.
As a matter of logic and economics, this makes no sense. The horses cost us practically nothing when they are left alone in the wild. They cost a fortune to trap and hold. And they are being rounded up at a rate much greater than the rate they can be adopted out, even to genuine horse lovers who have the time and space to give them a home. Today in America, there are perhaps 20,000 more wild horses in domestic pens than there are out on the rangeland. Here, then, is a government program that has gone out of its way to create a "welfare" class in America -- and then seen its federal stewards complain about the costs.