Does that assault your senses? Why? Would it have been more palatable if I had said: "let's let 50,000 horses starve?" Or how about "let's destroy 24 million acres of ecology?" Or how about this one?--"let's spend half a billion dollars keeping 20,000,000 pounds (that's 20 million in case you're a bit slow) of meat alive instead of using it to feed folks?"
Sometimes we have to just step back and appreciate how preposterous we've become as a culture. Yes, I know we have perhaps bigger issues confronting us, but if we can't even be reasonable about small things, how are we ever going to be reasonable about big things?
I don't live in the west, but I want ecological revitalization there as much as anywhere. So I'm going to do a post today regarding wild horses on 27 million acres of public land and the asinine proposition that horses are too sacred to eat. Plenty of cultures around the world eat horses. I've never eaten horse, but I imagine it would be similar to venison, and I sure love venison (think Bambi). I've certainly met plenty of people in other cultures who do eat horse, and I've noticed they don't have two heads and they do in fact know how to love and speak. Amazing.
The Bureau of Land Management estimates that the ecology can handle 27,000 horses, but the current population is three times that and doubles every four years. These wild horses were not part of the native ecology; they are invasives, brought here by Spaniards in the 1500s, just like pigs. Because nonsensical horse worshippers have convinced legislators in our country to outlaw killing horses (you can't even kill your own horse if it goes down--it must be submitted to licensed euthenasia at $100-$200 a pop) and shut down the last horse slaughter houses in the U.S. we have a serious conundrum.
The horses don't have predators like prong horned deer or even bison. They propagate like vermin. They denude the landscape of precious vegetation, the clothing of nature and even more precious in dry climates. They destroy the hydrology, desertify the landscape, and stimulate weeds rather than palatable grasses. Any reasonable person, faced with such devastating consequences, would plead for relief on behalf of nature.
But no, we can't kill the horses. So for years, the BLM rounds up some each year and keeps them in corrals, which have simply become institutionalized caretaking of an ecological pest. The problem is now so acute that the BLM will pay you $1,000 to take a horse. You heard that right--pay you $1,000 to take one of these critters. Realize that at 50,000 horses per year, that's 20,000,000 (20 million) pounds of meat that could offer nutrient dense protein at 1/3 of a pound a day to about 165,000 Americans. If you dropped it to every other day, it would feed great protein (way better than soybean burgers) to 325,000 people. That's a lot of food.
Why do we have such nonsensical thinking? Because we've lost our connection to agrarianism. This is disconnection disease. We could call it urban mental dystopia. I don't care what you call it, but it's foolishness masquerading as charity. I hope as we think about all the presents we just bought, received, and gave, we pause to think about the atomic-bomb-equivalent pummeling our collective thought process is foisting upon the fragile landscape of the arid west. And realize with grown-up sensibilities that a horse, truly, is no more human than a chicken.
I don't promote extermination. I do promote management and common sense. And not worshipping fantasy to destroy ecology.
If you were hungry, would you eat horse?