It's Uplifting to Know That Wild Horses and Burros Still Live Free in the Owyhee Wilderness

The Jarbidge Mountains

The Jarbidge Mountains are the high country above the Owyhee Wilderness and the headwaters of all three of the major rivers that form the Owyhee Canyonlands of southwest Idaho, southeast Oregon, and northeast Nevada. The area is one of the most remote and inaccessible areas of the continental US. and filled with sagebrush and juniper covered deserts, beautiful mountains, hoodoos and natural arches, and incredible river canyons carved into the ancient rhyolitic lava flows.

The Duck Valley Indian Reservation is situated in a beautiful,green valley on the Nevada/Idaho border surrounded by the Owyhee Wilderness. My daughter and i visited the area by taking Nevada Rte. 225 north outta Elko one early spring morning on one of our yearly road trips. Incredible vistas, one small general store/?, open roads, raging river, running, as they all do thereabouts, toward the Snake River.

The faeries still rule in the Owyhee, but the cattle ranchers and their BLM mercinaries work everyday to overthrow them. Corporate culture is at war with the wild, everywhere, including the Owyhee. The ranchers think the wild horses and burros, who together might number 2000, are overgrazing areas that their cattle should get. BLM was forced to stop simply rounding them up and auctioning them to be slaughtered, now their idea is a 'spay, neuter and release' program.

Of course they refuse to consider allowing the wolves, the coyotes, the cougars, the odd grizzly perform the magic of the trophic cascade. Wolves and other predators have a powerful effect on the well-being of the ecosystems around them including that their presence discourages the presence of mesopredators who often become nuisance species - think raccoons.

It's uplifting to know that wild mustangs and burros still move up and down from the Jarbidge Mountain high country to the protected river canyons with the seasons, still raise their young, still live freely. BLM may be able to capture some of Owyhee's wild horses, but it can never contain their spirits.

Several bands of wild mustangs, about 25 horses total, near Coyote Springs on the Coyote Grade Road in Owyhee County, Idaho. Music: "Cowboy's Dream" by Marty Stuart.