15th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest
Wild horses resting while the sun sets
This is a photograph of a herd of wild horses in San Luis Obispo California. They were rescued by Return to Freedom, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting America's wild horses. They were captured by the BLM from their home in Virginia. Wild horses in the United States are caught in the middle of a seemingly endless conflict between the federal government, ranchers, big oil, and conservation agencies. Public opinion about their presence is split between those that consider them a nuisance and those who see them as a icons of our nation's history and heritage. The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for the population management of these animals. Ranchers especially, put pressure on the government to thin their numbers, as they see them as grazing competition for their livestock. The BLM's management program involves rounding up wild horses by helicopter and trapping them in holding facilities. The horses are traumatized, and are ripped away from their herds and homes. They are held in the hundreds in cramped corrals, until they die, are slaughtered, or adopted. Currently the Trump administration is attempting to pass legislation that would allow for the mass euthanasia of wild horses.The horses featured in my photograph, are some of the very lucky few who have been adopted. Rather than be tamed, RTF allows them to stay wild on the sanctuary's 2,000 acre property. They have been reunited with their families and are able to live out their lives as free, wild animals.
© Paloma Ianes.
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||Nov. 2, 2017, 2 p.m.