This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable

Need to Know, August 26, 2011: Texas textbooks, wild horses, hurricanes and climate change

Thousands of wild horses roam western states in the U.S. This week on Need to Know, we explore the controversial removal of horses from the wild by the Bureau of Land Management.

We also delve into the controversial process involved with implementing changes to textbooks in the Texas school system. We revisit the Texas State Board of Education’s battle over these changes last year amid criticisms that they were injecting religious and political beliefs into school curricula.

Also: We take a rare look into the Somalia of the past, when Mogadishu was once a thriving city. How did it become the failed state that it is today?

And: With Hurricane Irene threatening the East Coast, what’s the link, if any, between weather and climate change? We also interview New York Times food writer Mark Bittman on the politics of food in the U.S.

Check your local listings for details.

Watch the individual segments:

The controversy over Texas textbooks

Despite Governor Perry’s statement that Texas schools teach evolution and creationism, Texas recently voted not to add creationism or intelligent design to its science texts.  But the actions of the state’s school board continue to be closely watched  by the nation. Need to Know caught up with the Board last May as it was considering changes to be made in its social studies curriculum— changes that critics said inserted politics and religious beliefs into textbooks. (Originally Aired: May 14, 2010)

The ghost city: Inside Mogadishu, Somalia

As Somalia struggles with a devastating famine, Need to Know takes a rare look inside Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, a city struggling from decades of civil war, Islamist militants, famine and piracy, to learn more about how the nation came to be in the state it’s in today.

Are deadly hurricanes the new normal?

As the first major hurricane of the season threatens the Eastern Seaboard, Need to Know investigates the links between extreme weather and climate change. (Originally Aired: May 20, 2011)

Interview: Mark Bittman

New York Times op-ed columnist and author Mark Bittman talks to Alison Stewart about the intersection of food, politics and the environment.

Removing horses from the wild

There are thousands of wild horses roaming America’s western states. We speak to filmmaker and wildlife activist, Ginger Kathrens about how the wild horses live and interact with one another and about the controversial removal of horses from the wild by the Bureau of Land Management.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.



  • Granella Thompson

    We are horse owners and lovers.
    Your program was far from accurate.
    Spaniards abandoned horses, DOMESTIC horses, these wild horses are all descendents of those domestic horses.  Indians made very good use of these horses. The breeds called Mustang and Appoloosa developed from that.  Today’s wild horses also have a mix of horses let go by people who no longer want to feed and care for their horses. 
    There are WAAAYYYY too many wild horses.  They are overgrazing, they are destroying the lands, they have health problems.  The nearby reservation has a very very large herd causing much destruction.  The East Oregonian newspaper located in Pendleton Oregon has had several articles on the subject.

    You need to BALANCE your programs.  Having a representative of BLM have AS MUCH TIME as that lady photographer would have been very very nice.

    Granella Thompson
    Weston, Oregon 97886

  • lt129

    While the debate about wild horse round ups continues, I’d like to point out that too many domesticated horses are being abandoned every day as the economy continues its decline. I don’t claim to have answers, but I do question why we continue to pull wild animals out of their habitats for adoption when we are struggling to find homes for the domesticated ones.

  • douglas norris

    why are you making such a big deal about animals that arnt even a native animail to the american caunts they wernt over here until the spainish brought them over hores were one of the reasons that the naitive amreicans wrer rain off their land and the bulfo were rain off the land I say get rid of the wild horese and put back the animals that belong in the wild in this land such as wolf cyitoeve cugors panthers bears and other native animals and not mack such a big deal about animals that were trans planted

  • Linda Hanick

    Thank you PBS for this excellent segment on what’s happening to the wild horses–to enlighten Americans about the massive removal of these Amerian icons, that were protected by a law passed by Congress in 1971.  The BLM’s response at the end with their pat line about 20% reproduction, is false. The USGS has done studies on wild horse reproduction rates, and it is closer to 15% and that doesn’t take into acount for annual mortality of old, injured, and young horses.  There is no real science with BLM decisions–that is the real problem.  And there is also a tremendous fiscal problem–the BLM spends $270,000 EACH DAY on helicopter roundups and feeding/housing 40,000 wild horses now in holding facilities that would be free back on their designated land.  That equates to millionaire helicopter pilots and non-reproducing herds in long-term-holding facilities–which certainly equates to eventual extinction.  Wake up America to this fiscal black hole that is perpetuated.  

  • N.E.

    Ms. Thompson is exactly correct.

    Which gives rise to concern over who is editing Need to Know.
    Usually I’m a big fan of the show, but then occasionally you do a piece like this,
    that is so slanted with emotionalism,
    without careful examination of all sides of the facts.

    These are horses that were let loose by the Spanish-
    some were rounded up and driven south into Mexico, as early as the mid-1800′s.
    Over-grazing was already a problem by then.

    As environmentalists, we are concerned about indigenous plants and species.
    To that point, wild horses- as pretty and sweet as they may be-
    are an introduced species that have the potential to destroy habitat for indigenous species.

    In the interview, Ginger makes a point about Native Americans having horses that really called for a challenge.

    First Peoples did not have horses until the Spanish arrived.
    Then, certain tribes made use of horses– in part to offer resistance to the Spanish-
    but also to prey upon their own tribal neighbors.
    Not for peace-loving activities.

    Should all species on this planet be treated kindly?  Yes, without a doubt.
    But choices need to be made.
    Need to Know would be doing us a greater service by providing all sides of an issue.

    Thanks for usually doing a great job.

  • Christie

    You need to do your homework. Horses evolved in North America. Mitochondrial DBAlaces them here as recently as 7,000 years ago,but does not imply the mass extinction so many have believed happened here.

    Equus caballus is the genetic equivalent of Equus lamb. The horse evolved here in North America for 55 million years. If you need a non-native animal that didmnot evolve here, look in the mirror.

  • Linda Hanick

    Thank you Christie.  Yes–in doing your homework, you’ll also find out that there are only 3 species living in N. America today that evolved here.  The turkey, the pronghorn, and yep, the horse.  All others evolved elsewhere and were brought here and traveled the landbridge, including humans and cattle.  The wild horse is a reintriduced species that thrives because this is the source of its evolutionary life.  I am an environmentalist, a wild horse advocate, and a realist.  Ginger is the only person in N. America who has studied the wild horse society and biology of individual wild horses and knows so much about the extensively.  Too bad the BLM has not done the same, but their priorities are elsewhere.  

  • Elizabeth

    I loved the piece on the Texas Board of Education. Big lesson is to pay attention to (read) what your children are reading and what your State Board is doing.  and wouldn’t it be nice if there was one set of books for each grade nationwide that everyone agreed represented the facts (and not opinions) like oh what do you call them…an encyclopedia and dictionary.