While the word “rewilding” might seem rather self-explanatory, the need to “Rewild” has arisen since man’s growth in technology and need to conquer all things has destroyed thousands upon thousands of native species to the planet, native grasses and much of the biodiversity in the soil that farmers use for growing crops.
The true definition of Rewilding is “to bring things back to an original state of being.” As it is not possible to bring all things back, it is possible to put back specific species on lands that are able to work harmoniously with the environment. These animals are referred to as Keystone species. They can help bring back native grasses, help other species flourish, and help to bring bio-diversity back to the soil. This ultimately will help in the fight to slow down climate breakdown.
The rewilding movement has begun in Britain and throughout Europe about 75 yrs ago. As Europe has no public lands, private lands are being leased and used for Rewilding projects. Much of the large-scale rewilding efforts are usually focused on herbivores in an effort to return the grazing patterns is a critical component to all Rewilding projects. There has been a great success throughout Europe and they are leading in Rewilding practices around the globe.
Here in America, Rewilding is in its infancy. The need to environmentally reshape the ecology of the grasslands and plains of the Americas is critical. The land that once grazed herds of wild horses, has now mostly been cultivated or converted into agricultural land for agricultural farming, oil fracking, and drilling.
Man has left irreversible damage to some of our environments and ecosystems. We’ve brought highways, fencing, infrastructure, and ultimately reshaped the ecology of our world. But, it is not too late and we can do something about it. We must plan for the future and what we want to leave behind for the next generation. It is in our very best interest to manage the land better, restore habitats, conserve biodiversity.
Wild horses are one of the most valuable assets that we have for rewilding our lands. They are considered a “Keystone Species” and perform several key functions when preparing the lands for other species. But with the desire for big business and control of lands the horse has been the scapegoat in the land grab that goes on daily in government.
The Taylor Grazing Act was passed in 1934 before certain areas were preserved for grazing, these lands were often utilized for livestock. Today, livestock are grazed on grasslands that were once wild, resulting in soil erosion, loss of plant diversity, and unsurprisingly overgrazing. The ranching industry has little regulation, as they have much power in government. Thus creating a greater disregard for ecological dynamics.
Allowing such large numbers of cattle to any grassland will result in depletion, desertification, and an ecological imbalance. Along with improper management of the lands, they are literally stripped bare. Horses have been targeted specifically and have been made out to be the culprit of this situation. They are rounded up and held in government pens for containment, unjustly accused of land degradation.
Bovine and equine grazing habits differ greatly and have significant effects on the land. Cows lack incisors in the front of their mouths and are unable to clip up the grass when they chew. Instead, they twist their tongues around clumps of grass and rip up the plants, which often can be uprooted completely. Horses, on the other hand, have sharp incisors that effectively clip grass only at the tips, leaving the rest of the plant intact.
This grazing preserves grass cover and prevents soil erosion, while cattle have been known to be more damaging grazers. Simultaneously, horses have less aggressive digestive systems. The plant matter they consume isn’t broken down as much as it is cattle stomachs. This means that horse manure contains seeds that may be dispersed. The higher nitrogen content that aids in fertilizing the soil. This is where rewilding makes its case; restoring the natural equine residents to the area results in a better ecological balance. These are only a handful of environmental benefits that are brought forward by wild horses.
The rounding up and deportation of wild native horses have little to do with the actual horses and more so with those in charge of the land. It’s the time that we as a society decide what we truly value our horses and the need to preserve them. Rewilding and the opportunity that it brings is the future and the way to save our environment and all that is connected. We can do it without cattle, but we can not Rewild without our Wild Horses. The decision is an easy one as our future generations depend on us to lay the groundwork for there lives. Our Wild Horses will lead the charge in Rewilding our lands and hearts.
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