Oh those bachelors! What an important role they play in a wild horse herd.
Remember, every stallion started out as a bachelor! So don’t let your human emotions get in the way if you see a bachelor attempting to steal a mare or two from your favorite band stallion. They are just answering nature’s call and an important call it is.
Over the two plus decades that we have been watching the Heber herd we have noticed years where there were significantly more colts born than fillies. This results in a natural male gender ratio skew. In a wild herd with minimal human interference and no use of birth control or culls, a greater number of breeding age stallions will result in smaller band sizes and thus a deepening of the gene pool. A natural sex ratio skew is not the same as that imposed by manmade management plans which have the intention of shrinking the herd size for motives having nothing to do with the health of the herd.
Another advantage that comes with having a larger number of stallions...
“Having a larger number of males competing could favor females by enhancing the opportunities for mate choice, could mean that males of higher genetic quality would achieve harem stallion status, or both."
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program: A Way Forward. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/13511.
A research paper, “Population Characteristics of Feral Horses Impacted by Anthropogenic Factors and Their Management Implications” published in 2022 by Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution stated in their conclusion:
“We suggest minimizing human interference with these feral populations. This should start by not arbitrarily and irresponsibly removing the adult males because they are the key for group protection, both against predation or harassment from other males and for genetic variability.” Also noted in the conclusion was how research on equine behavior and ecology can “provide essential guidelines to aid population management and fight the extinction” of horse breeds.
Certainly more research on wild horses is needed in order for our wild herds to be responsibly managed in a way that protects them instead of destroys them.
Please call Secretary Vilsack’s office at 202-720-3631 and ask that the Heber Herd become a “Study Herd” .
Ask that the Secretary of Agriculture, TOM VILSACK, declare the HEBER HERD of NORTHERN ARIZONA a “STUDY HERD” for the next 7-10 years as requested by the NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES IN 1980; (As ordered by PRIA, Public Rangelands Improvement Act and never carried out by the BLM and FS)
That NO horses be removed until the study is completed;
That NO fertility control drugs ever be implemented on this herd.
Some of the boys...