Mountain lions are eating California wild donkeys. Why scientists say this is a good thing
If you believe, as I do, that if you remove all the humans from a system, nature, in its pristine form, will restore itself, nature needs to be taken into account.
If nature is not fully restored, the result is not well-balanced, and not well-organized. If it is not well-organized, there is the danger of the system reverting to chaos.
The fact is, if California’s wild horse population were to return to pre-19th century levels, there would be a huge reduction in the range of the remaining feral horses, and we would have to face the fact that there’s no room for these free-roaming horses on our public lands.
A study by the United States Geological Survey and California Department of Fish and Wildlife, “Effects of California’s wild horse population reduction on other wildlife,” was published in the Journal of Mammalogy on May 19, 2014. This study is very telling of the situation that we face.
The original survey was done in 2004. The authors of the report, Gary McVay, California Fish and Wildlife biologist, and Michael D. Smith, California Game and Fish biologist, conducted a field survey of more than 200 wild horses in the Sierra Nevada mountain range from February 2004 to April 2004.
The report is well worth reading, but one point of interest to me is the following:
“Wild horse mortality estimates ranged from 1% to 2.5%. Based on estimates of wild horse mortality, we modeled an estimated 13,400 to 15,500 wild horses that died in California, for a potential wild horse human population of 6.9 to 9.6 million, and of 11.6 to 14.2 million wild horses in all of North America over the past 50 years.”
What the authors were trying to point out was that what they had in their model wasn’t the wild horses of California alone, but all wild horses in North America.
That’s an important point. There are some places in the world where feral horses are in their pristine form, in other places wild horses have been removed, and some places they’re still there, but the point is that what we’re looking at in these places is a mixed