Letter: Logic and care in wild-horse solution

May 18, 2015 -- The turmoil over wild horses and ensuring their future is emotional, and humans have created this reality with fences. There is no clean solution for too many horses in a fixed space. They are roamers and breeders.

As a scientist periodically living with wild horses on the range, I suffer when mares with foals stagger to a mud hole as an apparition of hide draped over bone. Yet the foal is still there nursing. So much for self-regulation of reproduction.

Nature proceeds without consideration of fences. The environment is not "natural" anymore. It is partitioned. Unregulated populations will eventually yield ranges as giant horse death camps, thanks to humans.

What options are there? Removing horses disrupts families and messes up the gene pool. Surgical sterilization is cumbersome, expensive and hard on the horse. The least intrusive means for long-term wild horse well being is to reduce the rate of foal production to match available habitat. There are wild horses and western range habitat right now that have clearly benefitted from reduction of foaling rates. These benefits also accrue to commercial grazing on public lands and to those people who want thriving wild horses.

It proves that logic and caring can coexist.

John W. Turner Jr., Ph.D.

Toledo, Ohio

Originally published in the Salt Lake Tribune May 18, 2105

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