Missouri Wild Horse League

Summary
<em>Edit Conservation Project/Cause</em> Missouri Wild Horse League -  | Sandy Brooks
Purpose/Mission: 
Missouri Wild Horse League cares for and protects the wild horses of Shannon County, Missouri
Start/End Date: 
Sunday, 11 February, 2018

Missouri Wild Horse League is responsible for monitoring the horses, removing any sick or injured animals and supporting the habitat so they can be free ad healthy. This is an all volunteer group that maintains the fields, cares for any sick animal and monitors the herd size. While there is seldom a problem, the group still has expenses related to ahbiat care and veternarian care for the occasionally sick animal. Any donations support the local efforts to maintain this pastoral environment.

Objective(s): 

Defray costs of habitat maintenance

Defray costs of vetinary services 

 

Background: 

It literally required and act of Congress to protect the wild horses on the federal National Scenic Riverways. In the early 1990s, the National Park Service planned to remove the horses. Two local residents started the fight to keep the horses. From the Springfield News Leadr on 7/27/2016:

"I didn't like the fact that the government was messing with something everyone seemed to love," Kennedy said. After a meeting in Van Buren with local residents and Park Service officials, Kennedy said it became clear to him that park officials had already made up their mind to remove the horses, despite public outcry.

He offered his legal services for free to fight the Park Service plan.

"The Park Service at the time said the horses were starving and not doing well, and that they were a non-native species that were also harmful to the Swainson's warbler, even though that bird was not found in Shannon County," Kennedy recalled. "We later found out that the Park Service had done a study that reported the horses were fat and slick and doing well. It became a case of post hoc rationalization — they were looking for reasons to support what they wanted to do."

Kennedy filed and won an injunction blocking the removal of the wild herd. But the Park Service appealed the ruling and won their case. Kennedy said he then filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the removal, but the high court declined to hear the case.

"When the Supreme Court wouldn't hear the case we thought that was it," Kennedy recalled.

But the court's inaction sparked a highly visible protest. Kennedy said 3,000 people — 500 on horseback — marched and rode down U.S. 60 Highway to Park Service offices in Van Buren.

"Every local legislator was there, there were so many people," he said. "Congressman Bill Emerson was one of our legislators and he said he was getting five calls in support of the horses for every one call against. That's how upset people were to having these horses removed."

In October 1994, Emerson introduced a bill in Congress to protect the horses, which was supported by Missouri senators Christopher "Kit" Bond and John Ashcroft.

 

President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law on Oct. 3, 1996, noting that the horses had become a permanent part of Ozark National Scenic Riverways and could not be removed.

The same bill also authorized the Missouri Wild Horse League to look after the health and welfare of the herd. As a compromise with the Park Service, the herd's size was capped at 50 horses to keep it from becoming too large and causing problems with local landowners and motorists.

When the herd exceeds 50 animals, the Wild Horse League, based in Eminence, rounds up some of the younger horses, especially stallions, and adopts them to horse lovers around the country.

The Wild Horse League also works with the state conservation department and Park Service to refurbish several old fields that had become overgrown with weeds and thorns. They were replanted in grass to benefit wildlife and help keep the horses from roaming too far and into traffic.

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