Andean Tapir Fund
The mission of the Andean Tapir Fund is to protect the wild horses and burros of the American West (as well as other members of the Order Perissodactyla including the tapirs). The Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Act of 1971 mandated that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) protect the wild horses and burros on our public land. Around 70 million acres of public land should have been originally allocated for wild horses and burros in 12 Western states.
The founder of the Andean Tapir Fund, Craig Downer, is a wildlife ecologist and author who has spent more than a half-a-century out studied and observing the wild horses and burros out in the fields and prairies of the western United States. His new book, The Wild Horse Conspiracy, describes the long history of the wild horses and burros on this continent, including the fact that all members of the horse family throughout the world originated in North America. He documents this by describing fossil remains, citing key research by other noted ecologists and biologists, and by his many references to the scientific evidence. Downer also describes how wild horses and burros are highly beneficial to the ecosystem, including the fact that their digestive tracts help to decrease the odds of catastrophic fires.
In response to a number of special interest groups, the BLM has been systematically conducting roundups in the ten western states still containing wild horses and burros. The primary groups that have been exerting influence on the BLM include the public lands livestock industry, the energy and mineral extraction industries (natural gas and oil drilling, etc.) and the big game hunting lobby. Some otherwise well-intentioned groups which have been misled on this issue have joined the wild horse adversaries. The negative claims that anti-wild horse groups make are baseless, and are meant to confuse the public.
For instance, the claim that the wild horses and burros are inherently destructive to public lands ecosystems is patently untrue. Ironically the massive number of cattle or sheep that have been allowed to graze on our public lands for as little as $1.35 per cow calf/5 sheep per month are indeed doing severe damage. Many people knowledgeable on this issue believe that the primary motive of the public lands livestock industry is to eliminate the wild horses so that they can graze even more cattle and sheep on our public lands.
The BLM-contracted roundups of the wild horses and burros often involve the use of helicopters and traps and cause severe trauma to the wild horses and burros and their foals. This campaign of roundups and removal has led to the elimination of most of the wild horse and burro herds on the public lands. Wyoming, Nevada and California have each zeroed out approximately 5 million acres of legal herd areas. Some scholars estimate that there are less than 20,000 wild horses remaining on our public lands. At the same time, the BLM is currently incarcerating over 50,000 wild horses in government-held enclosures.
The wild burros have met a similar but even more extreme fate as a result of this campaign to eliminate them from our public lands. The so-called Appropriate Management Levels which have been assigned by the BLM and the USFS, the two agencies charged with protecting and preserving wild horses and burros in the wild, are woefully substandard and represent a cynical set-up for dysfunctional societies and the eventual die-out of these magnificent animals, which have done so much for humanity. This is a total subversion of the true and noble intent of the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971!
The Andean Tapir Fund is seeking to protect and restore the wild horses and burros by educating the American public as well as people throughout the world on the tremendous value of these magnificent creatures. We do this by utilizing public relations, advocacy, and at times by participating in legal action.