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  • Christie Bonham

Freedom Means but One Thing, Free

Updated: Jul 18, 2021

I have been sharing to my social media pages like like crazy lately. With all sorts of articles, photos and posts about the Wild Horses, my Facebook and Twitter accounts have been buzzing. It has been close to five years now when I went on my first trip to Europe that I have posted this much. But the posts are not about me. They are about the Onaqui. If you are my friend, you know my heart has always lied with animals of all kinds. Horses in particular. And the Wild Horses of the Utah, the Onaqui, seem to lie in every crevasse these days.

The articles and data I have shared are time consuming to peel through. The fight for the freedom of Americas Wild horse in not a new one. But it is now a desperate one. So while I have been sharing some of this information. I have been taking in much, much more.

I was on the Nextdoor app recently commenting about this topic. It still baffles me how so many of us are detached from something so beautiful, wild and free. And fewer still are aware of the fight they face for their futures. Even here in Park City which is just over an hours drive away the most worldly wild horses on the planet we have mostly been in the dark. How does that happen?

It has taken a lot of time to dig in and understand the big picture problem. What lies deeper is still very much a mystery. In time I will continue to learn all that I possibly can. At this moment though I feel that I can put this hot topic into my own words so that you may come to understand as well. Here er' goes.

Number One. The Wild Horses and Burros of America are Protected under what President Nixon signed 50 years ago called the Wild Horses and Burros Act of 1971. They have been assigned areas to live on public land and do not over graze. What has been happening, ever more frequently, is that the Bureau of Land Management grants grazing rights to the cattle and sheep ranchers to graze their livestock on the horses land. This is because the land outside the horses area have been destroyed by over grazing of the cattle and sheep. So they put the livestock on the wild horses designated areas, then claim it is being over grazed. The horse becomes the scape goat.

Number two. It costs $30.00 per year to give a mare birth control through a humane system where they are darted in the wild. It costs $2,600.00 per year to care for and house a wild horse once it is removed from the range. Why would they do this? Profit and politics.

Number three. These horses rarely get adopted. They mostly live out their lives in holding pens, not sanctuaries. Many of these holding facilities are owned by one of the largest meat processing companies in the country. Since they are on private land, they cannot be viewed by the public for a very long period of time. Sometimes years. These are wild animals. They are not domestic livestock. The only thing they have known is freedom and family. Which at this point have all been taken away from them.

Number four. They are ending up in slaughter facilities across the Mexican and Canadian borders. Which is why the house recently passed an anti transport amendment that will be sent to the senate for a vote. They also passed new language to reform the Bureau of Land Management and force their hand to use the birth control that is available.

And number five. These wild horses and the land they live on belong to all of us. They are a National Treasure that is facing extinction if the current "Path Forward" is followed by the powers that be. These creatures do not belong to the government to hedge and profit from year after year. The BLM is breaking the law by not adhering to the very language of the Freedom Act of 1971.

As of today there are approximately 51,000 wild horses and burros that are being held helpless to this system. This year the number the Bureau of Land Management plans to capture by these tortuous helicopter round ups is an additional 10,000. There are incredible, dedicated and vigilant groups numbering in the 100's that are pushing back on this system. It must change. But will it? And will it been soon enough?

What the future holds for all of them, only time will tell.

"The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated".

Mohatma Ghandi

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