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Author Topic: Wild horse population in Nevada
Geraine
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On the news this morning a topic came up and I thought I'd get everyone else's views on it.

Here is an article on it:

http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7017372427

Apparently there is a large group of wild horses in northern Nevada. The population doubles every 4 years. The horses do not have enough food to go around, and they are starving because of it. It is estimated that there are about 25,000 of them roaming around out there.

Yesterday there was an effort to round up 2,500 of them. The horses will be held in facilities in other states, and eventually be put up for adoption.

Some groups say this is illegal due to the Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, and that 1.2% could die during the round up and another 5% in the short term holding facilities.

So what do you all think? Do you round them up and risk many of them dying in the process, or do you leave them be and risk them starving?

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Xavier
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I'm not sure I understand. If they are a population of wild animals, isn't this something nature takes care of itself? Populations explode until they run out of resources, then a certain percentage starve each generation, keeping the population numbers stable from then on. I see it every time I watch a nature documentary.

I don't see what you gain by rounding them up, except delaying the problem for another couple of generations.

I hate to think of horses dying to starvation, being a fan of horses, but letting their population stabilize naturally seems like the obvious solution to me.

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fugu13
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quote:
Populations explode until they run out of resources, then a certain percentage starve each generation, keeping the population numbers stable from then on.
Without natural predators, the cycle tends to become gigantic boom-bust cycles, with no stabilization. Plus, the externalities of the horses (massive grazing when the population is expanding) can be significant.

Really, they should probably just have a yearly hunt of the horses, much like the periodic deer hunts around here to prevent deer overpopulation (which, without it, do a giant boom-bust cycle, plus cause a lot of damage to green spaces by overeating). Just target the size of the hunt to the current undesired population overage.

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Geraine
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I see what you are saying, but is there really that much of a demand for horse meat? Deer and Elk I can understand, but horse?
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
I don't see what you gain by rounding them up, except delaying the problem for another couple of generations.
Free horses.

(Or, if we didn't have such a hang-up about such things in this country, free meat.)

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Xavier
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quote:
Without natural predators, the cycle tends to become gigantic boom-bust cycles, with no stabilization
Yeah, I was thinking about the feasibility of introducing predation, but I don't know if wolves eat horses, or if they'd even survive in Nevada, etc.
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dabbler
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I imagine introducing predators would end up being a lot more damaging than letting horses overpopulate.

I don't like the costs and cruelty associated with keeping many of the caught horses in long term pens.

[ December 29, 2009, 04:06 PM: Message edited by: dabbler ]

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scifibum
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I wonder if the places that render roadkill would want to get licensed to harvest some of the wild horses.
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mr_porteiro_head
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Starting a few years ago, it is illegal to slaughter horses for meat in the US.

Before that, you could just take them to a slaughterhouse.

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Jamio
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quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
I see what you are saying, but is there really that much of a demand for horse meat? Deer and Elk I can understand, but horse?

I've heard Japan generates a good-sized demand for horse-meat. When I earned my certificate in equine sports massage there was this big dramatic thing where everyone was signing a petition to end the export of PMU-foals to that country, where they would be eaten. Interestingly enough, the same people signing the petition liked a thick juicy beef-steak for dinner. I don't understand.
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Mucus
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quote:
Agriculture in Québec seems to prosper under the prohibitions from the United States. There is a thriving horse meat business in Québec; the meat is available in most supermarket chains. Horse meat is also for sale at the other end of the country, in Granville Island Market in downtown Vancouver where, according to a Time magazine reviewer who smuggled it into the United States, it turned out to be a "sweet, rich, superlean, oddly soft meat, closer to beef than venison". Horse meat is also available in high end Toronto butchers and supermarkets, most notably in Fiesta Farms in downtown Toronto. ...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_meat#Canada

Huh. Interesting.
(I was also unaware that it is now illegal in the US. Good to know, I guess)

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mr_porteiro_head
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If I ever get a chance, I'd love to try a horse steak, just like I would with elk.

And even if Americans were too squeamish to eat it, you can always use it for dog food and the like.

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scifibum
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I can see why people feel worse about slaughtering horses for meat than domesticated cattle. Horses seem a lot more intelligent (and willful) to me. Probably partly a reflection of what characteristics have been selected for in the centuries of breeding, I suppose.
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Blayne Bradley
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Summon Bigger Fish!
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Probably partly a reflection of what characteristics have been selected for in the centuries of breeding, I suppose.
I'm sure that's at least part of it. Animals kept for meat are bred for docility, which generally means breeding them for stupidity.
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Sean Monahan
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
I can see why people feel worse about slaughtering horses for meat than domesticated cattle.

For some reason, this sentence made me wonder how impactful the song "Wildfire" would be if it had been about a cow.
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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
If I ever get a chance, I'd love to try a horse steak, just like I would with elk.

And even if Americans were too squeamish to eat it, you can always use it for dog food and the like.

I've tried both. Elk is a little gamey but for the most part has the consistency and taste of a very high quality beef roast.

Horse also tastes a lot like beef, but is not as tender. It is a very tough meat to chew. It has been about 20 years since I have had it. I remember my great grandather throwing a HUGE fit when he found out what he was eating. He grew up on a farm, and "Horses aren't meant to be eaten damnit!" It was 3 days before he spoke to my great grandmother again.

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King of Men
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Tenderness in meat comes from a marbling of fat; since we don't breed horses for food, they have very low fat-muscle ratios compared to beef-bred cattle. Hence the toughness.
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Godric
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quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
If I ever get a chance, I'd love to try a horse steak, just like I would with elk.

And even if Americans were too squeamish to eat it, you can always use it for dog food and the like.

I've tried both. Elk is a little gamey but for the most part has the consistency and taste of a very high quality beef roast.

I've never had an elk steak, but I've had elk hamburger. I think mine must not have been premium as it certainly didn't taste like high quality beef. It was more like deer meat texturally but without the sweetness in the flavor, and it was very lean (so it dried out a bit too much for how long I cooked it).
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breyerchic04
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There is a hangup on eating horses (I don't eat red meat so my values are even more skewed than most) in the US. Partly because of this Slaughter is illegal in the US. Because of that many horses are sold at auction and bought by "kill buyers" who take them to Canada or Mexico where the slaughter houses are not at all regulated and do not meet the requirements of any slaughterhouse here. This is a major issue in the horse world and makes the discussion of wild horses even harder. Fugly Horse of the Day discusses this regularly.

I've ridden Bureau of Land Management horses that came from the roundups. One from the Kiger Pass in Oregon and one from Nevada, I believe. Both were great horses. There was an Olympic level (i don't believe he qualified) dressage horse that came out of a herd and was originally trained at a prison before he was sold.

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scifibum
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My dad tried adopting a couple of BLM mustangs. It went very badly. But the main problem was lack of time and skill on his part.
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theCrowsWife
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
quote:
Populations explode until they run out of resources, then a certain percentage starve each generation, keeping the population numbers stable from then on.
Without natural predators, the cycle tends to become gigantic boom-bust cycles, with no stabilization. Plus, the externalities of the horses (massive grazing when the population is expanding) can be significant.
Yep. Most of that land is rented by cattle ranchers, because in the desert it can take many acres to feed a single bovine. If feral horses eat up all the grass, there's not enough left for the cattle.

BLM has been rounding up and adopting these horses for years and years. However, the horse market has been flooded with low-grade horses for years, and the bad economy has only made it worse. This means that a lot of the horses and burros that BLM has captured are just sitting in holding pens, meaning there's less space for new roundups. It's a giant mess all around.

My dad works for BLM (although not with the horses) so I hear about the issues sometimes.

--Mel

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Verily the Younger
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quote:
Originally posted by Xavier:
quote:
Without natural predators, the cycle tends to become gigantic boom-bust cycles, with no stabilization
Yeah, I was thinking about the feasibility of introducing predation, but I don't know if wolves eat horses, or if they'd even survive in Nevada, etc.
I say it's worth a try. Bring in the wolves to thin out the horse population.

Then, when the wolf population gets too big, bring in the gorillas to thin them out. Then bring in the wasps to thin out the gorillas. Then bring in the tapirs to thin out the wasps. Then bring in the zebras to thin out the tapirs. Then bring in the octopodes to thin out the zebras.

Sure, none of this will solve anything. But it'll be damn funny. [Big Grin]

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Sean Monahan:
quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
I can see why people feel worse about slaughtering horses for meat than domesticated cattle.

For some reason, this sentence made me wonder how impactful the song "Wildfire" would be if it had been about a cow.
*amused*
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Tatiana
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I think the reason people balk about eating horses is that they're people, meaning they're a species we've worked alongside and gotten to know really well through the years. Eating horses would be like eating dogs or cats. Instead of thinking "yum, meat!" people would think of the horse they were eating as an individual with a personality, habits, wants, needs, like themselves. The fact is that the same is true of cattle and even chickens, but we don't know them as people so it doesn't bother us so much to eat them.

I feel like humans have a responsibility to take care of all members of species we've domesticated. The situation isn't really any better for feral cats or dogs. They die in huge numbers and we aren't able collectively to take care of all who are born.

Maybe a good idea would be to round up some of the horses and sterilize them and re-release them into the wild.

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scifibum
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"Maybe a good idea would be to round up some of the horses and sterilize them and re-release them into the wild."

the BLM does that too, I think.

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theCrowsWife
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I don't know if they do or not, but it can only really be done with the males. Spaying is a far more serious and expensive operation on a horse than a dog or cat, and I understand that there can be lots of complications afterward.

--Mel

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
Eating horses would be like eating dogs or cats.

Which happens in plenty of countries.
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fugu13
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Yeah. We're pretty clearly causing cruel and inhumane treatment of the horse population by not being willing to kill them to thin them, like all the other wild animal populations (including dogs and cats) we're willing to kill.

I'd be fine with doing it in a way more like feral dogs and cats, where there are "horse shelters" that they're taken to, and they can be adopted, but when they reach capacity and can't find anyone to take some, the least desirable among them are killed.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
I think the reason people balk about eating horses is that they're people, meaning they're a species we've worked alongside and gotten to know really well through the years.

I find this attitude (that animals are people) bewildering and disturbing.
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
I think the reason people balk about eating horses is that they're people, meaning they're a species we've worked alongside and gotten to know really well through the years.

I find this attitude (that animals are people) bewildering and disturbing.
Out of curiosity, do you feel the same way if people (homo sapiens) are described as animals?
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katharina
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In the sense that it is okay to eat them because they are, oh yeah.
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
In the sense that it is okay to eat them because they are, oh yeah.

I agree, it would be disturbing if the purpose of the categorization was to equate humans with food animals, or to deny their human rights.

If Tatiana meant to say that horses are equivalent to humans, then I would find that a pretty bizarre claim, and potentially disturbing if she meant to seek to expand human rights to horses.

But that's not the way I read Tatiana's statement. I understood her to mean that certain animals relate to humans in emotionally significant ways (significant to humans, although possibly also to the animals); that their individuality is apparent and valued. "Horses are people" is a pretty imprecise way to express the concept (though my own rendering of it is not exactly elegant), but in context it pretty clearly doesn't mean that "a horse is the same thing as a human being", or even that "a horse deserves some of the same rights as a human being."

So, the question is - does the concept that animals participate in important relationships with humans disturb Porter, or is he only talking about the idea that animals are equivalent to humans (which I think wasn't intended by Tatiana)? I thought asking about it the other way around - humans are animals - might uncover what it is that he finds disturbing.

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Farmgirl
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I think fugu put it quite well, above.

The general public has a similar feeling toward dogs and cats as they do horses -- yet there are places you can have them euthanized when there is an overpopulation.

Such a system doesn't exist for horses (unless the owner of the horse pays a vet personally) that I know of. Thus more overpopulation.

Slaughterhouses used to take care of this, to an extent. But you don't have to have a system set up that slaughters them for exported meat (for consumption)or for dog food. It could instead just be a system similar to what we have currently for excess dogs and cats.

The last time I had a horse die from old age, I had to pay $100 for the rendering plant to come pick it up. Horses aren't exactly the easiest animals to dispose of. It's not like I own a backhoe.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Verily the Younger:
Then, when the wolf population gets too big, bring in the gorillas to thin them out. Then bring in the wasps to thin out the gorillas. Then bring in the tapirs to thin out the wasps. Then bring in the zebras to thin out the tapirs. Then bring in the octopodes to thin out the zebras.

Hmmm ...
quote:
Scientist: I have combined the DNA of the world's most evil animals to make the most evil creature of them all.

[A pod reminiscent of the ones from the movie "The Fly" opens with a cloud of steam. It clears, revealing a naked human male.]

Naked Man: It turns out it's man.

quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
I think the reason people balk about eating horses is that they're people, meaning they're a species we've worked alongside and gotten to know really well through the years. Eating horses would be like eating dogs or cats. ...

Presumably this would not be true about the people eating horse in Toronto, Quebec, and Vancouver in that aforementioned Wiki article.

In fact, going further in the article it also claims that horse meat is mainly a taboo food in only the English-speaking/Christian cultures (and a few minor ones) while being perfectly acceptable in Europe, Asia, and South America.

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breyerchic04
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They actually are giving oral contraceptives to mares at least in some parts of the country. This causes another problem, if for some reason the mare isn't getting it year round (it's left in hay) they may come into heat late and have a fall foal. The fall foals are less likely to survive any rough winter.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
I think the reason people balk about eating horses is that they're people, meaning they're a species we've worked alongside and gotten to know really well through the years.

I find this attitude (that animals are people) bewildering and disturbing.
Out of curiosity, do you feel the same way if people (homo sapiens) are described as animals?
Depends on the context.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
But that's not the way I read Tatiana's statement. I understood her to mean that certain animals relate to humans in emotionally significant ways (significant to humans, although possibly also to the animals); that their individuality is apparent and valued. "Horses are people" is a pretty imprecise way to express the concept (though my own rendering of it is not exactly elegant), but in context it pretty clearly doesn't mean that "a horse is the same thing as a human being", or even that "a horse deserves some of the same rights as a human being."

That's possible. I suspect, however, that what she means is close enough that my comment would still stand.

Because, after all, "recognizing and appreciating their individuality" is not mutually exclusive with eating that animal. I should know.

[ December 30, 2009, 06:28 PM: Message edited by: mr_porteiro_head ]

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rivka
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Yeah, he eats critters with names!
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0Megabyte
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Well, as a pet owner, I get it. I know my cats and all their personality foibles, clashes with each other and each with their own habits and preferences.

Still, though a nice friendly kitty cat is something I'd go "aww" over, I still don't mind eating hamburgers.

I guess I came to a crisis of conscience some years back about this. But my decision amounted to "yeah, if I got to know them I'm sure I'd like some of the individuals... but darn it I just don't care. Pass the ketchup."

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Verily the Younger
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quote:
Originally posted by 0Megabyte:
I guess I came to a crisis of conscience some years back about this. But my decision amounted to "yeah, if I got to know them I'm sure I'd like some of the individuals... but darn it I just don't care. Pass the ketchup."

I have to say, I find this attitude disgusting, offensive, and, frankly, inexplicable.

I mean, you actually put ketchup on it? [Eek!]

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rivka
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Verily, I agree with you entirely.

Sean, every time I see this thread's title I hear "Wildfire". [Razz]

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Kwea
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lol


I know there are plenty of people who use these horses as riding horses, and they are great for that purpose. Hobby Horse Stables in Mancelona, MI uses them, and they had a large number of kids who rode them as therapy horses.

While I have no issue with killing some of them off, I think that adopting them out has been very successful as well.

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theamazeeaz
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My horse-loving (and owning), has disposable-everything friend says that the ban on horse slaughter for meat is actually a pretty bad thing.

I don't know the fine details and we had this conversation a couple of years ago, but basically disposing of dead horses is now extremely difficult. There are so many things you aren't allowed to do with the bodies, whereas making the body into animal feed was a lot similar, environmentally friendly, and economical.

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scifibum
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Why do we have the ban, I wonder?
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dabbler
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Tugging at heart strings. Attempt to make those who oppose into Evil Slaughterer of Beautiful American Creatures.

Sadly practical and mathematical arguments don't win as often as they (mathematically? Heh) should.

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scifibum
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_slaughter

OK, from what I can find the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act didn't pass. It is illegal in several states and apparently existing slaughterhouses were closed down recently, but it's probably still legal (although perhaps not feasible) to slaughter horses for meat in some parts of the U.S.

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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by Farmgirl:
The last time I had a horse die from old age, I had to pay $100 for the rendering plant to come pick it up. Horses aren't exactly the easiest animals to dispose of. It's not like I own a backhoe.

For some reason when I read this I read "It's not like a own a blackhole," which would certainly solve the problem as well.
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Cyn
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Well, part of the squabble that isn't described in the article or on this thread (so I think...I browsed through most) is that they're also messing up the natural ecosystem of the desert.

Sorry, no wolves. [Wink]

Mountain lions and rattle snakes would be their only real problem. That would be about zero.

I think part of it deals with cattle ranchers dealing with food resources in the presence of the mustangs. They're pretty ravenous. They tear up the landscape and that's an issue for those who want to keep Nevada the was it is rather than change its ecology around. (shrugs)

I see both sides of the issue a little and it's not an easy one. And by no means have I expressed the full emotion or details of either side of the debate.

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Scott R
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quote:
I was thinking about the feasibility of introducing predation
Okay, this is beautiful. Are you ready?

Percolate on this:

Genetically modified saber-toothed tigers.

What could go wrong? Am I right? Huh?

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