The emotional attachment to the feral horses, says Gornish, is disastrous for both the horses and the environment. These horses are destroying vulnerable habitat very quickly, especially native plant communities.
“However, people really dislike the ideas of killing horses, so they push back against control measures,” she says.
The result is too many horses in really bad condition, the irreparable destruction of critical native habitat, and the consumption of management resources to capture and then cage the horses.
“Because people are so far removed from the direct experience of seeing native habitat become destroyed from these feral horses — or the terrible condition they, the horses, find themselves in because there are not enough resources to sustain the exploding population — people who emotionally connect with horses cannot get over the idea of their removal. So they make it difficult, if not impossible, for managers — particularly, the government — to do its job, and the environment suffers greatly,” Gornish says.