Currently on the Navajo Nation, it is estimated that there are over 40,000 feral horses roaming and grazing on the land. This number increases annually. Horses have been a large part of the Navajo lifestyle and culture for centuries. However, today we are seeing large-scale damage on the native wildlife and vegetation from the large population of feral horses. This damage has been observed and recorded, showing:
Decreasing native deer population on the Navajo Nation
Large-scale land erosion and desertification
Decreasing population of native plants
Harmful human interactions; big safety hazard for vehicle operators and passengers, fencing damage, livestock corral damage, and depleting livestock owners' water troughs
Acknowledgement that this is a sensitive issue:
The Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife (NNDFW) acknowledges that the issue of feral horses is a sensitive topic. Horses are a big part of many Navajo's lives in the form of; livestock, transportation, recreation, therapy, and companionship.
However, the NNDFW works to be the voice of the plants and animals that are native to the Navajo Nation, as well as to promote the welfare of our ecosystems. The large population of feral horses is having a negative impact on these native plants and animals, thus requiring the NNDFW to take action in mitigating their impact.
Currently the NNDFW is working to address this issue through:
Educating the public, schools, communities and chapter houses, on livestock management and round-up procedures
Tracing the genome of the feral horses
How can you help?
You can help reduce the impact on native plants and animals by:
Castrating your stallions
Being properly prepared for the financial demands and time responsibility of owning a horse(s)
Find alternative methods of releasing animals
Maintaining healthy livestock with shelter, food, water, and attendance