Our Mountains and Wild Horses Speak; We need to listen (Part 1 of 4)

05 Apr

‘”One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.’  — Aldo Leopold

Conservation biology protects biological diversity. In another word, whenever we have a dominant non-indigenous species (cattle in this case scenario and kill-off all other species for its safety and growth) within an Ecological system and throughout our natural environment, we are contributing to Mother Earth’s destruction overall; which, the poor health of an ecological system is not nature’s creation, but a human-kind complex of bad decisions based upon bad science, and simply bad knowledge or very narrow mind-sets. Why say this? Because nature shows us this and within many different ways.

“Diversity — not destruction of other species, for simply the growth of a single species — is required today. The first mandatory, the second is not conservation, but special interest driven and leads to wholesale extinction of several species, in order to save one.

The inevitable destruction of an Ecological System, we find, follows almost immediately when cattle chosen selectively, and all else destroyed for the cattle. We see the results of this today, on our Public Lands while we also observe, and understand why, the extinction ratios increase concerning America’s Wild Horses, as well as many other regional wildlife, due to bad decisions based upon non-conservation ideologies and bad science – and yet cloaked within a conservation-style only explanation given to the public by ignorance and special interests. . .” (i.e. John Cox, The Cascades)

The following are interactions, similar on a scale to biodiversity, nature and consequences; but keep in mind also, human-intervention does create further destruction when involved. The appeal toward conservation is to intercede wisely, from good science, in order to prevent total disaster; which, in this case Wild Horses and to prevent their extinction; thereby, another significant virtue of diversity (i.e. wildlife and vegetation, et al.) and the positive nature of a healthy ecological system to start with:

  1. Genetic Uncertainty, or random changes in genetic makeup due to inbreeding, etc., which alter the survival and reproduction capabilities of individuals;
  2. Demographic uncertainty resulting from random events in the survival and reproduction of individuals;
  3. Environmental uncertainty due to unpredictable changes in climate, weather, food supply, and the populations of competitors, predators, etc.;
  4. Catastrophic uncertainty from such phenomena as hurricanes, fires, droughts, etc., which occur in random intervals.

What we see, within a biodiversity situation and with the Wild Horses, is these four classifications do interact. A disease (an environmental uncertainty) could reduce the Wild Horse population on our Public Lands to numbers creating a short-term extinction (6 months to 1 year). The culmination of mares’ availability, for example, results within an unbalanced sex ratio (demographic uncertainty) could contribute to inbreeding (genetic uncertainty), and this could lead to few viable offspring and, eventually, extinction. But the forms of Pesticide PZP as well as other over-population (a falsehood due to the selection of a single-species = cattle) extremes, without concern or understanding toward biodiversity, or ignorant displacement combined with greed, can and is causing this exact situation currently.

Although these four stochastic processes are difficult to model, and thereby through incompetence of Bureau of Land Management employees to understand the difference. We find that the over-population modeling paradigms as significant (easily manipulated software programs), and the reality of extinction, based upon this same ideology to be quite extreme within the realms of reality – or to put it bluntly, what exists is a total ignorance toward any type of ecological system sustainability or diversity within it, what so ever.

The burden of saving our natural environment is upon us right now. Certainly, just as we protect our home, the planet upon which we live now needs our attention as well. The problem remains, we simply do not act toward resolving the issues, and as nature places them blatantly in front of us. We would rather make excuses, in order to not act upon them.

Aldo Leopold’s famous phrase that we are as “plain members and citizens” of Earth, we need to grasp these realities’; we need to understand that biology of life on this plant of ours is very real indeed; thereby, Leopold’s Think Like a Mountain – and take it a step further, and place those thoughts into action.

The situation becomes worse when the magnitude of “uncertainties” grow, or certainly have an effect on population dynamics as they increase, cause and effect, the effect being actual populations of the Wild Horses becomes smaller.

A viable population is one that maintains a vigor (health) and the potential for evolutionary adaptation. Populations face increasing risk as their numbers decline. This is why honesty is of a priority, in order to make good decisions. When numbers, or modeling criteria is manipulated, this entire situation compromised. We can also, in truth state clearly, when ignorance is at the helm, then everything is gone; Ecological Destruction is inevitable, and Extinction of Wild Horses a certainty.

True Conservation

Previously, ecologists used an “Island Principle” of approach toward conservation. For clarification, we can use the term Public Lands in eastern Oregon, for example, as a viable Island Principle, in order to understand the situation better, and within a conservation style or mind-set.

The fact is Public Lands in Oregon have been severed from its “continental source pool” of ancient forests, grasslands, by logging and ranching roads, cattle grazing, and human population growth. Since the early 1900’s, data shows us the lands in Eastern Oregon has indeed lost 42% of its resident mammals.

Is this evidence of a catastrophic “relaxation rate” that will further reduce the species, in this case scenario Wild Horses, over time? Absolutely, because the cattle-only mind-set is taking a priority over any type of conservation principle or ideology. Diversity, in wildlife and vegetation, is lost in total, thereby the Ecological System set for failure.

Those that call themselves Conservationists, such as hunters or trappers (but they are not really, because they prescribe to no Conservation style of modeling, principle’s, or ideology what so ever), also want such things as a good population of Elk, Deer, or other game-species as a priority-only circumstance.

Yes, to state ignorance is blind becomes an understatement here, and the Oregon Fish and Wildlife, and their business as usual concept of selling game license, is fundamental toward a true ecological systematic disaster, nothing more than a destruction process (defined by all four processes above) of our natural wilderness areas in Oregon.

The reality to all of this? The ability to foresee where ecological health reaches a point, where these so to speak islands or ecological zones, can become their own continental source pool, which equates to Conservation at its best.

Conservation and Wild Horses

With the wild horses, we all have asked what is the minimum viable population? Many of us have also debated the fact that, is not the use of pesticides within ecological zones, as well as other population controls used on wild horses, and being dispersed within our environment, really useful? In reality, there exists no reasonable answer given yet, which leads us to the fact that we have no idea, really, how many horses are running around our Public Lands, nor what effect does the chemicals from the population control drugs have on our ecology (it remains a variable that is ignored within all scientific research of, for example, pesticide PZP – this lack of variables represents bad science). . . Are we, in realty, shooting ourselves in the foot?

Once again ignorance, special interests, and political agendas enter the landscape of sustainability of our natural wilderness areas and habitats. Thereby, we have to move away from the Island Biogeography theory, to answer two very serious questions – How long can Wild Horses exist on our Public Lands, or how low can we go within any other wildlife situation, and still have healthy ecological zones? And — How big is big enough?

Yes, we are concerned with the diversity of species lost, in particular the 52% of all wildlife on an international basis, lost to extinction since 1972. That wildlife does not exist any longer. This is a tremendous statistic of fact to acknowledge, all by itself, and to understand its reality, and why it, indeed, it happened at all. This makes the questions we have, certainly, far more serious than simply the average management questions.

Those of us in the field ask, more often than not and noting the fragmentation taking place of our natural landscapes — What size, shape, and type of connections will maintain viable populations in a system of protected areas? HMA’s for example, and the Bureau of Land Management, disregard the Laws and Congressional Policies always – which, in truth bring about more questions of incompetency and corruption of those BLM employees?

None the less, viable populations and reserve size represent two paths toward the same goal, protecting biodiversity. The overall truth is, at some point a minimum viable population needs a certain amount of habitat to survive. So here we are, coming to the main question. What will it take to protect the diversity of wildlife, in this case the Wild Horses, on our Public Lands?


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