Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The plight of the mustangs

Mustangs — wild horses that live in the American West — are in some serious danger, according to this article, which talks about a possible change in how mustangs are treated: The government is thinking about euthanizing wild horses to control the population.

For years, mustangs have been protected from this kind of thing, partly because they have been perceived as a symbol of the American West. Think about cars like the Ford Mustang, and movies such as Spirit. To control herd population, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rounds up mustangs and puts them up for adoption. Adoption fees are minimal, but you usually have to prove that you have enough land and enough horse sense to gentle a wild horse. Even after a mustang has been adopted, it is still protected under the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971.

Unfortunately, in 2005 this protection was weakened substantially with a bill that allows mustangs to be sold to slaughter if they are older than 10, or have failed to find a home after three or more adoption attempts. Now the BLM is poised to all but eliminate the protection altogether by approving euthanization as a method of population control.

Did you notice that the article rarely called them mustangs? I noticed the curious near-absence of the term, and went back and counted: The word mustang was used only twice, while the term wild horses was used more than half a dozen times. My guess is that the media is aware of the symbolism that mustangs hold for many Americans, and that they were trying to soften the impact of the article — and perhaps avoid some of the inevitable public outcry — with their word choices. Think about it — while mustang conjures up images of the nobility and free spirit of the American West, wild horse makes you think more of stray animals.

I think the term wild horses was deliberately used more heavily than mustangs, the term that most people would recognize, in order to convey an impression of the horses as pests — like an overgrown rat population that requires extermination. I am appalled that our government would consider revoking protection for a national symbol such as the mustangs. For someone who lives in the West and loves what these horses stand for, it's kind of like deciding one day that it's perfectly okay for hunters to kill bald eagles.

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2 Comments:

At July 3, 2008 at 6:33 AM, Blogger The People History said...

It is only about one issue the use of the BLM land cattlemen pay for the right to graze the land , Mustangs just do not have credit cards and large wallets

Mustangs loose

 
At July 3, 2008 at 11:33 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Thanks for visiting. At first I misinterpreted your comment and thought you were one of the anti-mustang folk, but after seeing your MidWestHorse Blog -- this post in particular -- I realized you were being sarcastic.

I assume you are trying to point out how wrong it is that the mustangs are losing out because they don't have money, and I totally agree with you. It's too bad our society is so corrupt that we consider money of the greatest importance when making decisions like this.

 

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