Wild horses are symbolic of freedom and are part of the mythology and legends of the American West. Yet growing herds are costing millions of taxpayer dollars as politics and society collide over how to manage them. Pulitzer Prize- winning journalist Dave Philipps of Colorado Springs digs into the history and the current battle over America’s mustangs in his new book, “Wild Horse Country.”
One argument against letting wild horses roam freely on western rangeland is that they aren’t seen as a native species. Many people say that they were brought to North America in the 1500s by Spanish explorers. Philipps says that the earliest prehistoric horses evolved in North America 55 million years ago and fossil evidence of them is found around the west. It’s possible that early humans hunted these wild horse populations into extinction, so he asks the question, if it was because of humans that a native species disappeared and it’s because of humans that the species returned, why isn’t that species native anymore?
Philipps speaks with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner about the history of wild horses in the West, the problems surrounding their current situation and what their future might look like. Listen to their conversation and read an excerpt from the book at cprnews.org