Can You Help Save Wild Horses and Burros?

Wildlife — By on August 10, 2009 at 6:09 am
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Save Wild Horses and Burros (image from exfordy on Flickr)

In my home state of Oregon, particularly the Central part of the state in which I live, there are regular news stories about the horses roaming on federal lands.  Unfortunately, the news is not always positive for these magnificent animals.  Just last year, we posted about America’s wild horses at risk.  With the upcoming auction season about to start the end of this month, its time to consider how you can help save wild horses and burros.

The Background

“Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; (and) that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people.”
(Public Law 92-195, December 15, 1971)

2619416738 9f544384f8 Can You Help Save Wild Horses and Burros?

The BLM will auction off wild horses starting August 31 (image from exfordy on Flickr)

The Issue

As you can see from this online gallery on the Bureau of Land Management’s official site, many wild horses and burros have already been rounded up…. taken off the lands on which they were born and have been grazing.  They will be up for auction in less than one month.  The reason cited for this annual event is to keep number of the animals down to prevent “overgrazing.”  But that’s only part of the story.  The approximately 10,000 wild horses that live in the western part of the United States compete with over 3 million cattle for grazing lands.

You can bid on the corralled horses and burros simply by registering online for a $125 fee.  The opening bid amount is $125.  That’s right – for a mere $250, you could have your own horse.  Although the BLM requires that you submit sketches of corrals an shelters, there is no guarantee that the wild horses and burros will end up with a caring owner.  Oftentimes, the highest bidder is a slaughterhouse.

Even so, not all animals are so “lucky” to be up for auction.  Again, this is from the official BLM website:

“If an overpopulation of wild horses and burros exists on public lands, the BLM gathers excess animals and offers them to the general public for adoption. The BLM presents these animals at adoption events and at BLM facilities throughout the United States. In addition to placing wild horses and burros into good homes through the adoption program, the BLM has direct sale authority that allows the agency to directly sell animals that are more than 10 years old and those younger that have been passed over for adoption at least three times.”

Simply, not all animals will be adopted to homes.  In fact, the Bureau of Land Management even declared that it may euthanize some wild horses simply due to the costs of penning and feeding them.

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What is the fate of America's wild horses? (image from RoyvanWijk on Flickr)

What can be done

If you want to help save wild horses and burros, you’re in the right place!

Among other things, you can sign a Care2 petition, demanding that BLM not kill America’s wild horses.  If you want to take it a step further, then participate in legal proceedings which challenge the government’s actions with respect to the herds of horses and burros.  Just last week, a judge ruled that BLM cannot remove all the wild horses from an area of Colorado.  The lawsuit was initiated by the Colorado Wild Horses and Burros Coalition, the American Mustang and Burro Association, the Cloud Foundation and the Front Range Equine Rescue.  A ruling was issued stating that the planned round-up of wild horses would violate the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

The judge rejected the BLM’s argument that the entire herd were “excess animals” within the meaning of federal law.

You can also write directly to the federal government about its round-up and sale/disposal of America’s wild horses:

Bureau of Land Management Attn: Wild Horse and Burro Program 7450 Boston Blvd., Springfield, VA 22153 Phone: 800-370-3936 FAX: 703-440-1656

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Amazing wild horses need your help (image from Wolfgang Staudt on Flickr)

Don’t stand by and allow this symbol of American freedom to suffer this injustice.  You can help save wild horses and burros by making your voice heard!

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America's wild horses thank you for your help! (image from SamJUK on Flickr)

Wild horses and burros are an enduring symbol of our country’s wild, free beginning (just think of the Mustang logo on Ford’s popular car).  Take pride in your efforts to help save these magnificent creatures!

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  1. Ryan says:

    Seems to me like the problem of slaughterhouses rounding up wild horses only exists because the government interferes with the farming of edible horse meat. If there is a stable source of healthy meat available, natural horses may be left to roam free and a leaner alternative meat for human consumption becomes available once again.

    Natural horses are left alone; farmed horses supply food to the populace, their pets, and zoo animals; and we’re better off in the end.

    PETA might have a problem, but I can’t say I agree with their ideas of a future fiber-fueled world. Poor vegetables (sad things can’t even express their dismay at being eaten).

  2. Tom says:

    There were no horses in this country until Europeans came. They are an invasive species and not ‘natural’.

  3. Stan says:

    ^ Hey, shut up.

  4. Thomas says:

    There were no Europeans in the Americas until the Europeans came. They are an invasive species and not “natural”.

  5. Joel says:

    Tom – Most people are an invasive species to North America and therefore not ‘natural’. What was your point again?

  6. Randy says:

    While horses were not here when Europeans arrived, they “used” to be here but went extinct as the Americas were settled by Native Americans (aka they were eaten). So yeah, they are a natural part of the Americas, and fill an important role. Rounding them up to make room for cattle isnt a good idea.

  7. Alegrialegria says:

    I wish I was rich, to put all my money in saving CHILDREN, ANIMALS, and FOREST………
    Wake Up HOMO SAPIENS ! ( so called “human beings” !!! )
    PROSECUTED should be, anyone who attempt against those 3 !!!
    May God have mercy on those criminals ?! I don’t think so. Because everything is about G R E E D……….!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Andy says:

    I actually have a mustang that I adopted 8 years ago. I paid $125 when he was 18 months old. He was from the Augusta mountains near Winnemucca Nevada. He was processed in Sparks and was as wild as can be. I read him the first couple of Harry Potter books to get him used to my voice. It took 3 months of this an hour a day before he would let me touch him. Anyway it cost the goverment $1500 to catch and process him. I fed him for 2 years and sent him to a trainer. Basically it cost me $5,000 to turn him into a useable trail horse (not a good value though only a few dollars a day). My vet kids that he died and went to heaven.

    My mustang is honest about his intentions and has a strong sense of self preservation. He gets about 2/3 the food of my other horses and is still fat. I have no regrets that I adopted him, he is a good boy. (except for banging on the fence when I don’t bring his food fast enough) The BLM sells horses fully broke thru the prison system for just over 1K. Much better value. Anyway they can live on so little they should be left alone unless they are going to starve.

    Some horses should go to the slaughter house. Not all horses are good natured, some are mean or beyond there usefullness. With the closing of the US slaughter houses they are shipped to Mexico. You wouldn’t wish that on anything.

    We did have one small win in Arizona. A small herd of horses in the Apache Sitgreaves have been allowed to stay despite attempts to have them removed.

    Maybe there is some wisdom to the Wild Horse act as it cost a lot more to capture these animals than leaveing them be.

    If you have the time and facilities adopting a mustang can be very rewarding.

    I do know if I ever come into a any quantity of money in the lottery or otherwise I will set aside the majority of the money for a horse sanctuary.

  9. jake says:

    Hey Andy … I am researching a story on the whole Wild Horse issue. What you have written here is interesting; an authentic voice. Would you be interested in speaking with me on the record for a local newspaper in Jackson Hole, Wyoming? Please respond: Thanks.

  10. Mike O. says:

    The life some of these horses lead is not as romantic as you might imagine. Coming across from Nevada to Cali, near Death Valley, I encountered a herd of them. The temp was over 100F, and they were near death, moving very slowly. There were around 20 of them, and they took nearly 10 minutes crossing the road in front of me.

    The sight of them remains seared in my memory, 15 years later. I can not argue against what the BLM is doing.

  11. Sam says:

    You people are crazy. The government can’t even manage some to the most basic needs of its people and you really believe that they are doing the right thing. Have you ever considered what it costs the tax payer to feed all these horses. Look don’t get me wrong I love seeing them roaming the west but they can’t just stack up in government holding facilities relying on my hard earned money. There is a large BLM facility down the road and I once asked they if they felt the government should be managing the mustangs or the ranchers and farmers. They agreed that the herds were taken much better care of when the ranchers and farmers managed them, and that is straight from the horses mouth!

  12. Betty says:

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  13. bren says:

    If I had the money the government seems to have, I would adopt all these animals, and they would not end up in my dog food. Blm is not about preservation of the free roaming horses and burros. they are about the money they can get from selling them to mexico and europe for food. If any of you would go to a blm holding facility, you would cry at the inhumane way these creatures are treated. It would literally rip your heart out. These animals did not asked to be born to this. They are all trying to survive. This country of usa is so big and has so much unused land, they should be helping these animals survive, not push them to extinction. Which is what is happening. Another 10 years there will be no such thing as a wild animal. blm and people will push them into nonexistance.

  14. Erin Pearson says:

    The wild mustangs should have an inalienable right to live and breed and survive where and how they have for hundreds and thousands of years, even if there was a minor interruption in their existence in North America-which is still up for debate. It’s ridiculous that our government is spending this money to exterminate these horses that wouldn’t cost or hurt anything if they would just leave them alone-and amen, let the ranchers and cattlemen who live there work with them and if NECESSARY occasionally, gather some and put them up for adoption to people who have already signed up for one. America will be a sad and soulless place to live if these horses are destroyed.

  15. Robert says:

    For Those That Comment Without Knowing What They Are Saying..

    About 15,000 years ago Equus ferus “Horse” was a widespread, holarctic species. Horse bones from this time period, the late Pleistocene, are found in Europe, Eurasia, Beringia, and North America. But by 10,000 years ago, the horse became extinct in North America and rare elsewhere.The reasons for this extinction are not fully known, but one theory notes that extinction was contemporary with human arrival.

  16. stable mat says:

    Horses were historically used in warfare. A wide variety of riding and driving techniques have been developed, using many different styles of equipment and methods of control. Many products are derived from horses, including meat, milk, hide, hair, bone, and pharmaceuticals extracted from the urine of pregnant mares.

  17. Annie says:

    her the wild horses are the sible of th ewild west and ther want to bey like us to be able to run around and the slauderhous im going to tri to stop them and im going to go to my gol

  18. Annie says:

    but i need help to do that ok the person who want to save wild horses do a donation to the protetion of the wild horses

  19. I’ve really enjoyed reading your articles. You obviously know what you are talking about! Your site is so easy to navigate too, I’ve bookmarked it in my favourites :-D

  20. Please sign up to advocate of the Unified Letter Calling for a Moratorium on Roundups,

    Happy Thanksgiving! The impact of our collective statement is gaining steam! In addition to over 140 organizations now in support, celebrities are joining the cause as well: Sheryl Crow, Mariana Tosca, Ed Harris, Wendie
    Malick, Viggo Mortenson, Kevin Nealon, and Michael Blake. We have good news to share too- in case you haven’t yet heard: In Defense of Animals (a supporter of this moratorium) filed suit against the BLM to stop the

    massive and inhumane Calico roundup, and because of this suit the BLM has agreed to delay the roundup by 28 days so that the case can be heard! Read the full press release here. We would encourage everyone to put

    a link or the letter itself on your websites and blogs (all details here on the Cloud Foundation site or here from Equine Welfare Alliance site!) A fine example (with a fun comic too) is the Int’l Fund for Horses.

    Supported by the undersigned on November 18, 2009 Click here for a list of supporting organizations, celebrities and scientists. Thank you ahead time.


    Barbara Ellen Ries
    Wild Horse advocate
    Cloud Foundation was founded by Emmy Film Director Ginger Kathrens

    Supported by the undersigned on November 18, 2009
    Click here for a list of supporting organizations, celebrities and scientists.

    Home NewsAction AlertsMoratorium Letter to President Obama and Secretary Salazar
    Moratorium Letter to President Obama and Secretary Salazar
    23 November 2009
    Individuals: sign on to this letter & send your request & comments to President Obama and your Representatives in one easy step. click here to support the moratorium
    Organizations: we still need your support! Upload sign on form here and send to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ?cc= This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it &subject=Moratorium Letter- please add my organization” $included=”null” This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    A Unified Call for an Immediate Moratorium on Wild Horse & Burro Roundups
    And a humane, fiscally responsible plan for preserving and protecting the iconic,
    free-roaming wild horses and burros of the American West
    President Obama, Members of Congress and the Department of the Interior:
    We, the undersigned, request major changes to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro program. This must begin with an immediate moratorium on all roundups. While we agree that the program is in dire need of reform, and we applaud your Administration’s commitment to avoid BLM’s suggested mass-killing of horses, the plan outlined in October by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar raises numerous concerns. These include:
    Perpetuating the flawed assumption that wild horses and burros are overpopulating their Western ranges.
    In reality, the BLM has no accurate current inventory of the 37,000 wild horses and burros it claims remain on public lands. Independent analysis of BLM’s own numbers reveal there may be only 15,000 wild horses remaining on public lands.
    Continuing the mass removal of wild horses and burros from their rightful Western ranges: The BLM intends to spend over $30 million in Fiscal Year 2010 to capture more than 12,000 wild horses and burros. This stockpiling of horses continues even as an astounding 32,000 are already being held in government holding facilities at enormous taxpayer expense.
    Scapegoating wild horses and burros for range deterioration even though they comprise only a tiny fraction of animals and wildlife grazing our public lands. Far greater damage is caused by privately-owned livestock, which outnumber the horses more than 100 to 1.
    Moving wild horses and burros east off their Western homelands to “sanctuaries” in the east and Midwest at an initial cost of $96 million creates significant health concerns if animals adapted to western landscapes are managed on wet ground and rich grasses.
    Removing tens of thousands of horses and burros from their legally-designated Western ranges and moving them into government-run facilities subverts the intent of the 1971 Wild Free-roaming Horse and Burro Act, which mandated that horses be preserved “where presently found.” A 2009 DC district court case held that “Congress did not authorize BLM to “manage” the wild horses and burros by corralling them for private maintenance or long-term care as non-wild free-roaming animals off the public lands.”
    We appreciate your Administration’s recognition of the horses’ value as an ecotourism resource. However, the display of captive, non-reproducing herds in eastern pastures renders them little more than zoo exhibits, further discounting the contribution to our history and the future of the American West.
    We believe that workable solutions to create a healthy “multiple use” of public rangelands, protect the ecological balance of all wildlife, and preserve America’s wild horses and burros in their rightful, legally protected home can be achieved. We are calling on the Obama Administration to reform the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Management Program.

    We ask that you reverse the current course and immediately take the following actions:
    Place a moratorium on all roundups until accurate and independent assessments of population numbers and range conditions are made available and a final, long-term solution is formalized.
    Restore protections included in the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. Update existing laws that protect wild horses by reopening certain public lands to the mustangs and burros, thus decreasing the number in captivity. Return healthy wild horses and burros in holding to all available acres of public land designated primarily for their use in 1971. If these lands are not available, equivalent and appropriate western public lands should be added in their place.
    Support federal grazing permit buybacks. Reduce livestock grazing and reanalyze appropriate management levels for herd management areas to allow for self-sustaining, genetically-viable herds to exist in the west.
    Conduct Congressional hearings regarding the mismanagement of our wild herds and further investigate the inability of BLM to correct the shortcomings of the program as audited by the Government Accountability Office’s 1990, 1991 and 2008 reports.
    Supported by the undersigned on November 18, 2009
    Click here for a list of supporting organizations, celebrities and scientists.

  21. AJ JONES says:

    Hello i am a cowboy in east tn i put shoes on lots of horses people in east tn love horses we have hundreds of acres that has elk and deer on them but no wild horses TVA and the goverment owens hundreds of acres at the lakes and old stripp pits that will run hundreds of horses to me give the horses a second chance they are smart animals and need homes to survive check out campbell claiborne scott union countys remeber the best gets better take care of the horses hope to see them in east TN THANKS AJ

  22. chris says:

    It’s true that Europeans brought horses back to North America. They say it’s because they became extinct either through the migration process or dying out but I don’t think they died out. See how well they populate here in America. Bringing them back just helped reverse whatever happened that’s all. Maybe these early American Settlers knew what they were doing more than we give them credit for, after all they did discover an entire continent(they were smarter than most of us here today). Can you say that?
    Horses were used for many things but wars were bloody and cruel for the horses and the poor(slaves) because they didn’t have horses. Horses always did their fair share of hard work and that was often cruel too. In other instances when people used them for transportation, they had to take good care of them. In the west a horse was often considered mans best friend and if you stole one you would be hung with out a trial. People are cruel and it was always WRONG.Pregnant mares urine? It’s scientifically proven to be toxic. UN NATURAL don’t you think?
    FACT: Horses are not just a big part of American history but human history.

  23. chris says:

    One more fact: It’s true that some (not all) Europeans eat horse meat. I think a plate is around $800.00. I don’t know who but the richest can afford it but they don’t need America’s imported horse flesh for that. After all, they had horses before America was discovered. Mexico and China are supposedly the big buyers of American Imported meats. You wouldn’t have good luck trying to convince Europeans to change their ancient and well known meat eating habits.

  24. Jean Wood says:

    Please don’t present the Wild Mustangs with the same fate as the uncaring, earlier, and mostly greedy settlers did to your buffalo (bison) in the 19th century.

    The USA has so much open country and also has such wonderful wild animals, how can your leaders allow such things to happen.

    Please stop this right now.

    As an English lady I must say that I have never heard of horses being eaten anywhere in the UK. We consider horses our friends, and so should the American people.

  25. What a wonderful blog…and for such a deserving subject matter. There are several moving posts, but I have to laugh at a few that seem to forget that the “Indians” had “Indian ponies” when the Europeans first arrived. In addition, the Europeans were amazed at these smaller, quicker horses and the fact that the Native Americans used no saddle.

    But to my reason for writing here…what keeps anyone from capturing a few horses on their own?

    If anyone cares to answer, please contact me at

    Thank you

  26. Barbara Ries says:

    Welcome to the Real American West!
    Located on 680 acres in the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation, ISPMB is dedicated to the rare blend of land preservation, wild horse conservation, and the protection of Native American heritage. National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Stephen Spielberg’s film crew, and the Associated Press have all recognized the historical significance of this effort, and made repeated visits to photograph our horses and the beautiful landscape on which they live.
    Come as a photographer, a nature lover, or a researcher of ancient American horses. Surrounded by the sweet scent of prairie grass, your personal tour guides will give you detailed information about the preservation of these unique wild horses, the interweaving of the Lakota culture with the horse, and the geologic formations and pre-historic fossils found in this lush old sea bed. Tours are led by wild horse historians, behavioral experts, and local Lakota guides. We also offer the opportunity to observe and use horse whisperer techniques in the training arena. Enjoy your tour via four-wheel vehicles or horse-drawn wagon.
    Tours run from May 15 through October 15, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. We are located on the Cheyenne River Lakota Sioux Reservation. Take scenic Highway 212 East, just 2.5 hour northeast of Rapid City, South Dakota.
    One Hour Introductory Tour
    Enjoy interactive tours of the wild horse range with a wild horse historical and behavioral expert as your guide. Feel the rumbling of the ground as you view a rare and unique herd of galloping wild horses, whose ancestry dates back to 500 years. See the splendor of the scenic Great Plains. Tours begin on the hour from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. $35/person – cost includes tip and taxes. Children 6 and under are free. Reservations preferred.
    Half Day Tour
    This tour includes the one-hour tour, as well as a four-wheel trek across the beautiful Great Plains. You will have a great photographic opportunity to take up-close shots of a larger herd of colorful wild horses. Explore the land, seeking out fossil laden rocks with a break to enjoy refreshments. Tours begin at 8 a.m. $75/person – cost includes tip and taxes. Children 6 and under are free. Reservations preferred.
    Full Day Tour
    This includes the half-day tour, except you will travel by horse-drawn wagon (when available) instead of the four-wheel drive vehicles. Your Lakota tour guide who will take you back in time on a journey through history. Enjoy lunch overlooking wild turkeys, prairie dogs and deer. Tours begin at 8 a.m. $150/person – cost includes tip and taxes. Children 6 and under are free. Reservations preferred.
    For more details, contact Karen Sussman:
    PO Box 55
    Lantry, SD 57636-0055
    *We can provide you with transparencies for inclusion with your brochures, and any other supporting information you might need. We arrange tours from one hour to two days in length, and are happy to tailor them for your clients¹ interests.
    Native Healing Center Project
    Tourism is an integral and vital aspect to the success of the ISPMB. We are dedicated toward strengthening our tourism program through the creation of “The Native American and Native Horse Human-Animal Healing Center”, a non-profit center designed to help heal both Native people and animals. Native American children are the newest generation of a culture whose roots, identity, and language are on the edge of extinction, due to the rising crises of unemployment and alcoholicsm in the Native community. The Center will collaborate with our hundreds of rescued wild mustangs to provide rehabilitation and animal-assisted therapy both to the Native people and the animals themselves. All projects will be temporarily held on the President of ISPMB’s private 680-acre ranch, until enough funds are raised to purchase the wild horses’ permanent ranch. Here, in keeping with our motto of conservation and sustainability, a green center will be built to promote tourism, respect for the land and its cultures, and education of the Native people.
    Read more about the on Project

    Karen Sussman President touring the Wild Horses today!!

  27. michele belfry says:

    No animal should be treated like they don’t matter they are beautiful creatures. They deserve to be free.

  28. Meg says:

    I see that the wild horses are in trouble and would like to help like all of you. I grew up on a farm and had horses. Im experienced with the animals. Im interested in buying a 1000 acre ranch in Wyoming. Would it be possible to house some of those wild horses on my ranch? If they had a small river or pond to drink out of and grass to eat, would it be possible? WOuld the government allow it and would the horses stay?

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