Wild Horses as Native Wildlife
I'm writing a college research paper on wild horses in North America, and I'm arguing that they should be reclassified as reintroduced native wildlife because 1) Horses originally evolved here 2) Humans may have caused the extinction of the horse 3) the Native horses were the same species as domestic horses 4) Horses have been in N. America for several hundred years and have become a part of the ecosystem
. If anyone has any websites or print articles with research regarding this, I'd appreciate it if you left a comment or sent an email. So far I have started the paper and am going into the evolution of the horse in North America, from eohippus up through Equus in the pleistocene epoch. I am looking at the various theories of the extinction-- there appear to be two major theories, the "overkill" hypothesis that states early humans hunted large mammals to extinction, and the "climate" hypothesis in which the animals were unable to adapt to a change in weather and vegetation. The most popular theory appears to be a combo of the two.
I also heard about a third less popular "surviving horses" theory that states that some horses may have survived and may have interbred with introduced horses. But there is no fossil evidence. I'm curious as to why anyone seriously considers this theory as possible. I can't find any scholarly articles on this theory, other than a reference to "Clutton-Brock 1981" but I'm unable to locate this source.
I also heard of some small horses that live on the Pima indian reservation in Az... actually when I was down there I met a young Indian woman who said her brother captured some to train them. I checked with the BLM and there are no herd management areas there, so who owns these "wild" horses? Are they property of the tribe? Are they spanish mustangs? If anyone has any info on this I'd really appreciate it.
It's interesting to see how we humans define "nature" and "natural". If the horse had "naturally" been reintroduced to North America, or had been hunted to the brink of extinction but later experienced population expansion, it would be considered native. But if it was released by humans, it no longer is considered native. The truth is that there is really little-- if any-- nature left, and when we set up these goals to preserve something as natural, or to manage things to keep them 'natural', by our very interference we are making things unnatural... I could turn this essay into a commentary on our society and how we view ourselves as separate from nature, but how we really aren't.