The Wild Mustang Population

Horses at the Fence
Horses at the Fence

The wild mustangs on the range are a population of free-roaming horses in the western United States, which are believed to be descendants of domesticated horses brought over by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. There are currently estimated to be around 95,000 wild mustangs on public lands in 10 western states, including Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, Utah, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho, and Colorado.

The management of the wild mustang population has been a contentious issue, with some advocates calling for their protection and preservation, while others argue that the horses compete with livestock for resources, damage the ecosystem, and can be a safety hazard for motorists.

To manage the wild mustang population, the U.S. government established the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act in 1971. The law mandates that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service manage the wild mustang populations and balance their needs with the needs of other wildlife and livestock that also rely on the land.

The BLM uses a variety of methods to manage wild mustang populations, including roundups, contraception, and adoptions. However, the methods used have been controversial, with some advocates arguing that the roundups can be inhumane and lead to the horses being sent to slaughterhouses.

In recent years, there have been efforts to develop more humane and sustainable management strategies for wild mustangs. These include the use of fertility control vaccines, natural management techniques, and increasing public awareness and education about the importance of preserving these iconic animals.