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Gbh Property Management – Gandalf, a 16-year-old stallion and possibly the oldest stallion in the range, at Wild Horse Ranch in Siskiyou County, California in March 2022. Gandalf was usurped by a younger stallion, allowing him to continue. the custom of being a member of the family band, a change to the usual family band makeup that typically includes a stallion in the lone band.
Like more and more people in the American West, naturalist William Simpson is familiar with wildfires. He lives in rural California’s Siskiyou County, where overgrown grass and brooms regularly cause scorching and deadly wildfires. This year, the McKinney Fire killed four people and burned more than 60,000 acres.
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But the wildfire four years ago was the biggest threat to Simpson’s home. The 2018 Klamathon Fire burned non-stop for 16 days, blowing huge flames towards Simpson’s property.
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Simpson told NPR during a visit to his property: “The fire broke out right on that side of the mountain. “[It] burned all the trees and destroyed all the coniferous forests up there.”
However, Simpson’s land and much of the local community remained safe. He credits the community Wild Horse Fire Brigade.
“It started to infiltrate areas where our local feral herd had run out of fuel… large areas of grazing became safe areas for staff and equipment,” Simpson said. of Cal Fire played before the fire,” Simpson said. “These horses helped mitigate the Klamathon Fire.”
This local herd is the poster child for Simpson’s proposal to reintroduce wild horses captured by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and put into government facilities.
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The BLM is responsible for the management of the nation’s wild horses under the Wild and Free Roaming and Burros Horses and Horses Act of 1971. Congress passed the act to protect wild horses and dogs. United States poachers have been hunted to near extinction. Whenever the BLM determines there are too many horses in a certain area, it can order the helicopter to rotate.
But the rounding is controversial. BLM helicopters sometimes swoop down above frightened feral horses, chasing them, sometimes for miles, until they’re trapped in range.
Kelsey Stangebye, a lawyer who authored a review article in 2017, said: “After this horrible marathon, they will be put in a barn and these animals have never been held in captivity in the wild. any form”. program.
Once trapped, the horses can panic. Videos show them prominently in fencing and other horses as they attempt to run away.
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“They’re all piled up in there and fighting the fences; they’re jumping over the fence,” said Stangebye. “It was dramatic, intuitive, horrible for the animal.” Horses were injured, some died.
BLM calls the situation unfortunate and says those numbers are small and unavoidable. The agency then transfers the captured horses to BLM detention facilities. Some receive new homes through the agency’s adoption program.
However, some of those horses that show up in auction houses are regularly killed by buyers who kill and send them to slaughter. Thousands of others live their lives in BLM holding facilities. As of May 2022, BLM statistics show that they have bred 58,314 horses in captivity at a cost of approximately $90 million for feed and care for the year and nearly $50 million more to conduct breeding operations. summarizing and operating the program.
Simpson says keeping wild horses in captivity makes no sense, especially with today’s hotter wildfires burning through entire forests and burning down towns.
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“Keeping wild horses out of the wild and locked up is like putting the fire department in jail during fire season,” he said.
Simpson lives on the edge of the Mount Soda wilderness with his partner Michelle Gough. It is an arid country, where clumps of juniper, oak, pines and fir trees dot the land that is home to about 90 wild horses. In the middle of it, at the top of a steep dirt road overlooking a large reservoir, is Simpson’s cabin.
“If we look south, you can see the summit of Mount Shasta right there,” Simpson said, gesturing toward the 14,179-foot summit of the volcano. “Then north, we have Oregon just two miles away.”
Simpson lived among the herd and studied these horses, a herd of about 20 family herds, using the same embedded observation method as primatologist Jane Goodall’s study of chimpanzees in Africa. Simpson was thoroughly familiar with all of his subjects – their personalities and their important status in the herd.
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“Hey, Baby, will you come and see us?” he told an avid follower as we moved our interview into a meadow below the cabin, where the horses used to congregate.
“This guy is down here,” Simpson said, pointing to a burly white horse standing a few yards away. “It was a stallion. We named it Mystic.”
“They were up there this morning by grazing rocks,” he said, pointing to the mountains above. “From here they can get to Oregon in an hour.”
Simpson says the horses go lightly in this environment. They use the same game that deer and elk make, trimming combustible grass and combing along the way – about five and a half tons, per horse, per year.
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Today, grazing takes place mainly on mixed-use public lands – alongside livestock operations, where ranchers and others have hunted predators. to protect their animals. Without mountain lions, bears and wolves, the herd of wild horses grew uncontrollably. That leads to resource competition with livestock and resource depletion across the ranges, which can cause scrambles.
Simpson said his proposal, called the Natural Forest Fire Mitigation and Conservation Plan, would help fix that problem. It calls for rolling up and humanely relocating intact feral horse families from areas in dispute with livestock and other land users and placing them in some wild areas instead. designated on the nation’s 110 million acres.
“These are highly protected areas that contain endangered and threatened co-evolved plant and animal species and are at high risk of burning – catastrophically,” Simpson said. Simpson said. “Putting horses in there helps protect those trees and ecosystems.”
Among the advantages of grazing horses in wild areas, says Simpson, is their ability to breed crops, including both native and endangered species. Unlike non-native cows and other ruminants that thoroughly digest their food, horses pass whole grains through their feces.
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“You can see them like little balls of compost with seeds,” he said. This is the product of millions of years of evolution with the local flora.”
“So when this one gets wet, it’s like a little potted plant,” he said. “It’s just starting to grow and it really has a significant survival advantage over other native seeds on the landscape.”
The horses also help fireproof the trees they use for cover by pruning branches 5 to 6 feet above the ground, the same extent that fire officials say. upright recommended for homeowners who want to protect their property.
Simpson said, pointing to a nearby Juniper tree that shaded some of the horses.
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In most fires in the West, grass and brooms and woodland are the main fuels that allow the fire to climb from the forest floor into the fragile canopy. Once there, they can quickly spread, killing trees and destroying entire forests.
But when animals trim these fuels, the fire burns low and slow. Deer help make that happen, but habitat loss, disease and other factors have affected Western deer populations in recent years. Wildlife data from California shows that their numbers have dropped by 80% since the 1960s.
“Those deer feed on three million tons of grass and brooms every year,” Simpson said. “That’s a lot of burning fuel.”
He points to a research team that links our era of catastrophic wildfires with the loss of large herbivores.
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He called the catastrophic North American fires “a whole new paradigm because we’ve lost the big-bodied herbivores that control grass and brush.”
For wild horses to help fill grazing gaps left by depleted deer populations, it requires them to relocate them – and in the case of captive horses, they will re-wrap – into areas Remote wilderness is most threatened by destructive wildfires.
Simpson says the ideal areas are too rugged for ranchers to raise livestock, which studies show cause severe damage to the lands they graze. That’s partly because they tend to stay in one area and graze thoroughly. The free-roaming horses move constantly as they graze, logging 10 to 20 miles a day. Simpson writes in his study: “Predator is the main driver in this movement.
Both animals are about the same weight, but a cow has a much smaller two-toed hoof, Simpson explained. Especially in wet and riverside areas, a cow’s hoof sinks into the ground like a heel in soft grass. The horseshoe is relatively wide and rounded, which helps to distribute the weight of the animal over a larger area, limiting hoof penetration and soil destruction.
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Simpson’s research includes photos that list these and other things
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