Inconvenient Truths about Wild Horses, Wildfire, and Forest Management

by Capt. William E. Simpson II


Wildlife and natural resource management priorities have been turned upside down and now prioritize greed and ego over intelligence, common sense and sustainability. 

The research and empirical evidence gathered over an intensive five-year study, which I have put forth within the contents of numerous published articles, are what might be termed as 'inconvenient truths', which are countered by the BLM & USFS and their minions (including some scientists seeking grants) by ignoring them.

The curated collections of the aforementioned articles are available for review and discussion and are published and available online at these websites, among many others:




Even though they have been invited many times, none of their scientists or officials will openly engage in a dialog with me publicly because they fear that their own illogical and unsound policies will become even more apparent and Wild Horse Fire Brigade will gain even more relevance while further shinning a light on the genuine facts of the matter, including arguable malfeasance on the part of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the United States Forest Service (USFS).

This statement as to 'malfeasance' is also borne out through conduct by the BLM that is readily observed via their own publications, which seek to intentionally misinform Americans and their legislators. For instance; last year the BLM issued new guidance to Congress, which I had questioned in a Letter and emails sent to Brian Steed and Victoria Christainsen (Chief of the USFS) by my lawyer.

The BLM has recently misinformed Congress in a writing (~May 2018) submitted to the U.S. Congress titled:  'Report To Congress - Management Options For A Sustainable Wild Horse And Burro Program' to wit:

On page-1 of their 'Executive Summary'it makes the outrageously false statement

*"Wild horses and burros have no natural predators..."

That *statement is manifestly false; nevertheless, helpful when engaging in the genocide of native species American wild horses under the false pretext of required population management. And they spend our tax dollars printing and submitting falsehoods like that to our duly elected Congress. Furthermore, that material misrepresentation is the KEY premise that drives the entirety of the so-called 'Sustainable Wild Horse and Burro Program'. It is a farce perpetrated upon the American public and taxpayers.  

The truth of the matter is that the apex predators on the North American continent are the naturally evolved predators of all equids (wild horses & burros), and are NOT the naturally evolved predators of invasive species cattle and sheep, which evolved in the Near East, off the North American continent. 

What the BLM's Executive Summary should correctly state is this, as I have offered in a writing to the BLM's upper administration, including Mr. Steed:

'In and around livestock production areas that involve HMAs where wild horses and burros are also managed, and where all apex predators must be (have been) abated with great vigor for economic reasons related to preserving livestock, wild horses and burros are relieved of all their naturally evolved predators.'

The *false premise presented in this latest BLM document is not an accidental oversight or mistake. And given they have massive budgets and numerous scientists on staff who obviously must read and sign-off on such thesis documents, this criticism is more than fair.

The BLM is intentionally (as is their longstanding modus operandi) misinforming our legislators and the People of the United States in order to manage public lands according to their will, and not that of the people of the United States of America. The BLM has already been called-out for misinforming the public by Dr. Ross MacPhee, the curator of vertebrates at the American Museum of Natural History. Here is a transcript of his testimony to wit:

The real issues at bar are money, ego and influence: 

Big Industry (gas, oil, mineral extraction, and the little guys by comparison; livestock industry) don't want yet another 'endangered species' on the public lands they are eying for exploitation. Dealing with species covered by the Endangered Species Act ('ESA') is a costly issue that also affects time schedules and profitability.  

Given the natural history of native-species American wild horses, they present an impediment to the development and use of public lands by industry if they obtain endangered or threatened species status. 

The BLM and DOI are using all their influence, which extends into some quarters of the scientific community, to keep our publicly-owned American wild horses from being officially recognized nationally as a 'native species'. If wild horses are identified as being a native species, which current preponderance of science supports, that would be the first step towards being recognized as an endangered or threatened species under the ESA. The reasoning is; as soon as American wild horses obtain 'native species' status, they could then be viewed through the lens of the Endangered Species Act. And due to their current numbers, range and biology, would likely immediately be considered a 'threatened species'. 

If Department of Interior's Director and the BLM's Brian Steed have their way, American wild horses will this year be put onto an irreversible path toward extinction via the BLM's devious three-fold plan:

1. Reduce total U.S. population down to just about 25,000 wild horses (maybe less); and,

2. Divide that number into smaller groups of horses, as small as 25-50 animals in varied locations separated across America; and,

3. Continue using PZP on free-roaming mares in the wild to allegedly control a contrived over-population canard. 

It's a scientific certainty that the combination of the three foregoing methods will assure the failure of the genetics of free-roaming American wild horses to wit:

1. Wildlife biologists (wild horse experts not under the BLM's thumb) have already opined that the genetic diversity that is required for the assured preservation of the species of native wild horses is not ideal even with a population of 25,000 free-roaming wild horses in a herd that has free association. Even in the early 19th century there was as many as 2-million free roaming wild horses on the American landscape and subject to the laws of natural selection. That number fell catastrophically in the following decades leading to the 1971 Congressional Act protecting them, an Act now disrespected and virtually gone by the boards. 

It has been estimated that an absolute minimum herd size of 200-horses in close-association is required to maintain the basic genetic vigor of the species. Today, herd sizes created and managed by the BLM in herd management areas (HMAs) contain less than 200 wild horses, with many HMA populations numbering 50 animals or less, or zeroed-out entirely, and these metrics demonstrate the truth of the matter.

2. By segregating the total population (per the BLM's current plan) into small groups of 25-50 wild horses, in-breeding is assured resulting in genetic failure; and,

3. Using PZP on these small groups of wild horses in the wild further accelerate the genetic damage via the way that zona pellucida vaccine (aka: 'PZP') works on the reproductive organs of the mares that are darted with this chemical. The method of it's action is; PZP causes the a mare's immune system to essentially attack the ovaries, which prevents conception. And the stronger the immune system, the better the drug works. Therefore, mares with a poor immune response to the drug could still conceive a foal, which offspring also likely carry a genetically weak immune system.

Notably, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California recognized wild horses as native species, explaining that BLM “establishes Appropriate Management Levels (“AMLs”) for populations of native species - including wild horses, burros, and other wildlife - and introduced animals, such as livestock.” In Defense of Animals, et al. v. U.S. Dept. Interior, et al., No. 12-17804, *6 (9th Cir. May 12, 2014).

On Sep 28, 2011 (See Craters AR at 16698. Memorandum Decision & Order) The court addresses “sensitive” species pursuant to BLM's 2001 Special Status Species Policy. This Policy requires that “sensitive” species be afforded, at a minimum, the same protections as candidate species for listing under the ESA. It called on BLM managers to “obtain and use the best available information deemed necessary to evaluate the status of special status species in areas affected by land use plans . . . .” See Policy at § 6840.22A. Under the Policy, those land use plans “shall be sufficiently detailed to identify and resolve significant land use conflicts with special status species without deferring conflict resolution to implementation-level planning.”

The bottom line is that big-money industry (which now arguably includes the burgeoning wildfire suppression industry) view American wild horses as an impediment to the growth of their revenue models, when in fact that are key to protecting wilderness and forest ecosystems via their evolved symbiotic presence. And moreover, in the wilderness, the evolved predators of wild horses and burros (mountain lions, bears, wolves) effectively control equid populations via the perfect evolutionary process of 'natural selection'.

If a native-species herbivory were reestablished across at-risk remote wilderness landscapes (areas now known as 'firesheds'), science proves that catastrophic wildfire would be devolved, and that is a financial loser for those who already have or are making capital investments into the wildfire suppression business models. This obtuse money-driven process will continue to yield devastation, loss of human life and assets across the landscape. 

Intellectual dishonesty must never be rewarded via ongoing support and grants, which is the current paradigm. The funding of some scientists and their studies in the provision of studies with predetermined outcomes that support profit ahead of sane natural resource management must be called into question and ended.

William Simpson is the author of Dark Stallions – Legend of the Centaurians, proceeds from which go towards supporting wild and domestic horse rescue and sanctuary.

Capt. William E. Simpson II is a U.S. Merchant Marine Officer with decades of boating and expedition sailing experience, having logged more than 150,000 miles at sea. Simpson has successfully survived long-term ‘off the grid’ at sea and at remote uninhabited desert islands with his family for years at a time. He holds a U.S.C.G. 500-ton captain’s license for commercial-inspected passenger vessels and he is also a commercial airplane and helicopter pilot.

Simpson spent his formative years growing up on the family’s working ranch in the mountains of Southern Oregon, where horses were an integral part of the daily life. William left the family ranch to attend college, which turned out to be a stepping stone into a bizarre lifestyle that led him around the world on an entrepreneurial quest. An adventurer at heart, Simpson and his best friend and wife Laura, spent many years at sea during two sailing expeditions (1991-1994 and 2008-2011) where they experienced some of the many wonders and mysteries of nature. Since retiring, Bill and Laura have changed lifestyles and are once again engaged in a new adventure; living an off-grid lifestyle in the remote wilderness of the Siskiyou Mountains, where they enjoy coexisting with herds of wild horses, along with a myriad of other wild animals. The staggering beauty of the local mountains and valleys is awe inspiring and has influenced Bill to frequently write on subjects related to wild horses as well as wild and domestic horse advocacy, rescue and sanctuary.

The opinions expressed on MyOutdoorBuddy are those of the author and do not represent the opinion of MyOutdoorBuddy or that of the author's employer unless otherwise stated.