Celebrating more than 50 years of wild horse and burro education and conservation, ISPMB continues its vision and mission as an international leader. Joining with Princeton University's Dan Rubenstein, PhD, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the research will begin this June to identify the "functional" social behaviors in wild horse society.
ISPMB manages a conservation center in South Dakota where 4 distinct wild horse herds live undisturbed. "One of the main reasons we have kept the groups isolated is so we can study various herd cultures," says ISPMB President Karen Sussman. "Even though the herds have been living in the same habitat for 12 years, the groups have maintained their individual cultures, so we are eager to understand as much as possible about the social behavior of wild horses and how they may affect management."
Dr. Rubenstein is well known for his global work on behavior and decision making in wild equids, particularly with zebra sociality. Investigating how animals "network" and what determines "leaders" in animal society will translate well into the ISPMB studies.
Joined by Dr. Cassandra Nunez, PhD, currently a research scholar at Virginia Tech and past wild equid researcher at Princeton, Dr. Nunez has been involved in previous wild and feral horse studies in the US.
Princeton student, Lydia Anderson will be in the field for about 10 weeks this summer working on her senior thesis and identifying critical factors in wild horse networks. "I am so incredibly excited to be able to live in the field and study wild horses", comment Lydia. " I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, loving nature, so this will be a wonderful opportunity to experience both horses and nature."
ISPMB Research Director, Mary Ann Simonds, MA Whole Horse and Equestrian Science Institute has been studying social behaviors, leadership and cognition in wild horses since her undergraduate work the early 1970s at the University of Wyoming. "I am thrilled to have such a great team of folks dedicated to assisting with this project. Being able to identify sustainable behaviors and how leadership takes place in functional herds will help us identify why the herds have maintained their various cultures and hopefully give insight into management strategies."
Princess and Ellie
Miss Little Ears
It will begin Sunday, June 9, as we gather for dinner around 5 PM. Afterwards, we'll all get together for a classroom session.
Although, this is a photography workshop with great photo opportunities and teaching sessions, it's more than that . . . it's a gathering of friends by invitation.
Space is limited to 10 people. Since 7 people are already signed up, the sooner you contact us the better. The follow link will take you to Weldon Lee's website where you can see details and more images from previous workshops HERE.
PO Box 55
Lantry, SD 57636-0055
ISPMB has 12 years of study on herd structures which ultimately could help the BLM make better decisions as to how roundups should occur.
We need to keep the herds together for further study.
ISPMB has been documenting wild horse behaviors on our wild herds now for eleven years. We have enough documentation to show that BLM's constant removals of wild horses have contributed the destruction the herds' social structures creating an increase in wild horse numbers due to the deterioration of their education system.
Simply put - when wild horses are rounded up and then returned to the wild (selective removals) - leaving the gates open and horses to fend for themselves as they return to their habitat areas (contracepted or not)- the younger stallions will take the opportunity to steal mares away from the older stallions that truly contain the herd wisdom. Over time, mentoring of the bands by younger stallions has led to breeding younger and younger fillies.
This behavior could lead to the loss of survival of wild herds over the long term!
We know that our studies will lead to the end of helicopter gathers by the BLM. That BLM will only be able to remove horses through bait or water trapping leaving band structures intact.
Wild horses and burros would not exist in our country today if it were not for the efforts of ISPMB and our first president, Wild Horse Annie, who were instrumental in getting Congress to pass federal legislation in 1971 that gave protection from death and harassment of wild horses and burros on public land. (PL 92-195) Read more about Annie here
Our goal at ISPMB is to prevent the elimination of unique herds and to find a solution that would help to raise the public’s awareness of the need to protect wild horses and burros on public lands. At present, ISPMB is creating a model management program for wild horses in our country and currently manages three unique wild horse herds – the White Sands herd, the Gila herd, and the Catnip herd.
Currently, ISPMB is continuing its observation and study of the herds so that a model management program can be derived. Fertility and recruitment rates are observed along with behaviors of bands and their interaction with each other. Each herd is blood typed and DNA tested. Wild horse herds are far more genetically diverse compared to any breed of domestic horse in our country. (Dr. Gus Cothran-Equine Geneticist)
ISPMB would like to share with you the extraordinary behaviors we observe in our wild horse herds. This information is intended to show the true spirit and magnificence of these wild animals which are fast disappearing from our American landscapes. Your donations will help our work.
Thank you for your generosity!