Wild mustang horses are free of saddles and spurs and can roam the vast expanse with a wind-swept hair. This is a strong symbol of the American West, especially in literature and film.

Since the mid-20th Century, wild horses of all breeds are protected by Congress. Western ranchers claimed that horses stole valuable grazing resources from cattle and began killing the herds. Wild horses of all kinds have a magnificent beauty that attracts animal lovers as well as nature lovers.

Native horses used to live in North America, but they died out more than 10,000 years ago. The horses we see today are descendants domesticated horses that were brought back to North America by Spanish explorers in 16th and 17 centuries.

Many domestic horses died in the hundreds of years of trading, breeding and warring that followed.

Wild Mustang Horses

The herds grew in size without natural predators. Prior to Congress’s 1959 and 1971 legislation, horses were subjected to unregulated hunting, as well as poisoning their water holes.

Even though there have been some disagreements about management, there are currently approximately 60,000 free-roaming horse in both the United States and Canada. Although the Bureau of Land Management considers horses wild, they better fit the definition of feral. This means that they are free-roaming descendants of domesticated horse breeds.

No matter what label they are given, these majestic horses cannot be denied. Both government agencies and preservation societies encourage people to view wild horses in North America, but only if they are kept at a safe distance.

These are the top places in North America to see wild horses:

These are the Best Places to See Wild Horses North America

These majestic and beautiful creatures can be seen from Nevada to Nova Scotia.

Wild mustangs are free of saddle and spurs and can roam the vast expanse with a wind-swept hair. This is a strong symbol of the American West, especially in literature and film.

Since the mid-20th Century, wild horses of all breeds are protected by Congress. Western ranchers claimed that horses stole valuable grazing resources from cattle and began killing the herds. Wild horses of all kinds have a magnificent beauty that attracts animal lovers as well as nature lovers.

Wild Mustang Introduction

The descendants of domestic Spanish horses escaped and brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers during the 16th century, the Mustang horses are the American equivalent of Spanish horses.

According to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries, the name comes from the Spanish words for “mestengo” or “mostrenco”, which translate as “wild or masterless cattle.”

Mustangs are technically not wild horses as they were domesticated. Therefore, mustangs found in the wild are considered wild. According to the American Museum of Natural History, AMNH. Although they can be found free roaming in the west United States, they are kept in captivity by humans and ridden as other horses.

According to Horse Canada, a government-run website about horses, Mustangs are strong and have hard hooves. This makes them ideal for trail riding and scouting.

The genus Equus includes horses. It evolved in North America around 4 million years ago and then spread to other parts of the globe.

Live Science reported that the last wild horse in America died around 10,000 years ago. This was likely due to climate change, interactions with humans and other factors.

Like other horses, Mustangs are measured in their hands. They typically measure 14-15 hands high. This is equivalent to 56 to 60 inches (140-150 centimeters). According to America’s Mustang, they weigh in at around 800 pounds (356 kilograms).

Various Kind of Wild Mustangs

Mustangs come in a variety of colors, and according to Oklahoma State University their coats reflect the full range of colors found on all horses.

They are usually either bay, which can be a reddish brown, or sorrel which can be a chestnut. You can have many different patterns, spots, and stripes.

Horse Canada reports that most mustang horses can run or gallop at speeds between 25 and 30 mph (40-48 km/h). However, a mustang was able to reach 55 mph (88 km/h) when running short distances.

The Last Wild Horses are Recovering from Extinction

Native horses used to live in North America, but they died out more than 10,000 years ago. The horses we see today are descendants domesticated horses that were brought back to North America by Spanish explorers in 16th and 17th centuries.

Many domestic horses died in the hundreds of years of trading, breeding and warring that followed.

The herds grew in size without natural predators. Prior to Congress’s 1959 and 1971 legislation, horses were subjected to unregulated hunting, as well as poisoning their water holes.

Even though there have been some disagreements about management, there are currently approximately 60,000 free-roaming horse in both the United States and Canada. Although the Bureau of Land Management considers horses wild, they better fit the definition of feral. This means that they are free-roaming descendants of domesticated horse breeds.

No matter what label they are given, these majestic horses cannot be denied. Both government agencies and preservation societies encourage people to view wild horses in North America, but only if they are kept at a safe distance.

These are the top places in North America to see wild horses:

Nevada is home almost half of the free-roaming horse population in the United States. Many of these horses belong to the Virginia Range herd which is located in the western half of Nevada.

These are the Best Places in North America to See Wild Horses

Wild mustangs are free from saddles and spurs and can roam the vast expanses with a wind-swept hair. This is a strong symbol of the American West, especially in literature and film.

Since the mid-20th Century, wild horses of all breeds are protected by Congress. Western ranchers claimed that horses took valuable grazing resources from cattle and began killing the herds.

The Last Wild Horses are Recovering from Extinction

Native horses used to live in North America, but they died out more than 10,000 years ago. The horses we see today are descendants domesticated horses that were brought back to North America by Spanish explorers in 16th and 17th centuries.

Many domestic horses died in the hundreds of years of trading, breeding and warring that followed.

The herds grew in size without natural predators. Prior to Congress’s 1959 and 1971 legislation, horses were subjected to unregulated hunting, as well as poisoning their water holes.

Even though there have been some disagreements about management, there are currently approximately 60,000 free-roaming horse in both the United States and Canada.

Although the Bureau of Land Management considers horses wild, they better fit the definition of feral. This means that they are free-roaming descendants of domesticated horse breeds.

No matter what label they are given, these majestic horses cannot be denied. Both government agencies and preservation societies encourage people to view wild horses in North America, but only if they are kept at a safe distance.

These are the top places in North America to see wild horses:

The Virginia Range, Nevada

Nevada is home almost half of the free-roaming horse population in the United States. Many of these horses belong to the Virginia Range herd which is located in the western half of Nevada.

Because of the decades-long struggle of “Wild Horse Annie”, Velma Johnston, to protect these horses and others free-roaming across the country, the herd is sometimes called “Annie’s Horses”.

Johnston was originally from Nevada and it was these horses that inspired her campaign. The 1959 “Wild Horse Annie Act”, (P.L. 86-234) was named for her.

The best way to see these horses today is to hike east of Reno to find a watering hole.

The mustang is often used to represent the American West. This symbolism can be seen at Theodore Roosevelt National Park on 70,467 acres. Here, 100-200 free-roaming horses can be seen galloping and grazing across the Dakota badlands.

Summer is the best time to visit horses as the young are still part their family herds. To better observe horses, the park recommends that you find a high point such as Buck Hill or Painted Canyon Overlook.

According to the park, you should also look out for “stud piles”, which are fresh manure used by stallions to mark their territory.

There has been much debate over how to best protect horses and the land where they graze. Contraceptive programs are being researched and studied as a humane method to limit the wild horses in the park.

About 160 horses roam free in the Pryor Mountains, which are located near Bighorn Canyon. The horses have distinctive markings, such as a long dorsal stripe down the back and “zebralike” coloration on the legs. They are also smaller than wild horses.

According to the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center, the animals are descendants of colonial Spanish horses that were brought to the region by Native American tribes during the 17th and 18th century.

The horses have had genetic tests done over the years and the results show that they have Spanish genetic traits.

Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service land accounted for 38,000 acres of the horse’s roaming area. After public pressure Stewart Udall, Interior Secretary, set aside 31,000 acres for horses as a protected public range in 1968.

A few years later, more acreage was granted under the “The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.” However, horses can still be seen along Highway 37 today, but it is worth visiting the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center first before you venture out. The center will provide current information regarding the location of the herds.

Although activists condemned the recent capture by the government of almost 350 mustangs it is a difficult task for those who are responsible for managing wild horses in drought-stricken West.

The helicopters arrived on July 13. The helicopters were operated by private contractors, who were commissioned by the Bureau of Land Management. They drove hundreds of horses from public lands to holding pens. Opponents protested the roundup and captured it on a nearby hillside.

BLM collected 435 mares and stallions from the Onaqui Mountains Herd Management Area. It is one of 19 areas it manages in Utah. One mare, a young mare, was injured in the frenzy. She had to be put down.

Just over 100 mares and stallions were given fertility injections by the agency before being released back into the wild. The remainder, which was approximately 350 horses, were sent to holding facilities to be placed in permanent captivity.

BLM must manage wild horse and burro population in a sustainable manner according to law. According to BLM’s website, the Onaqui herd was so large that it was beginning degrade the land. Due to drought, horses couldn’t find enough food and their health was declining.

According to the bureau, the Onaqui herd can sustain itself at a size of 121-210 horses, and no more than 26,000. It is authorized to gather the remainder.

Today, there are 86,000 free-roaming horsemen living on almost 28 million acres of public land in 10 western U.S. States. 55,000 horses were taken from the land and now live in government-run quarters.

According to the bureau, their numbers are increasing by 15% to 20% each year because they have no natural predators.

BLM removed 4,391 horses in the first half 2021. The goal was to increase that number to nearly 11,600 by year’s end. BLM has not responded to requests for comment.

Taxpayers spend about $100 million annually to manage this horse population. According to a 2020 survey from Utah State University, the majority of Americans don’t know much about horses, such as where they come from or where they live.

However, activists, scientists, government officials, and livestock owners who lease public lands and whose horses compete with horses for forage, it is a difficult problem to solve the ever-growing population of wild horses.

The Controversy

The Onaqui herd “gather”, the technical term for rounding up free-ranging horses, sparked renewed outrage among activists as well as the public. This led to protests at Utah State Capitol and social media outcry.

Neda DeMayo is the executive director of Return to Freedom, which is a sanctuary for wild horses and an advocacy group. “This tragedy could have been avoided if we had implemented a successful fertility program many years ago.”

She says that the herd is easily accessible and would have been a great case study to rely on only on-range fertility control. Drugs can be administered using a dart gun, temporarily corralling horses, or via the use of a dart gun.

Roundups are criticized by many activists as inhumane. They break up families, traumatize people, and confine free-ranging animals to confinement. “Horses live in herds. DeMayo states that horses are social and sentient beings who suffer when they are separated from their family groups.

Gathering and bringing horses to a trap area is a chaotic process. Horses are forced into an area, where they suddenly become all smushed together. Celeste Carlisle, Return to Freedom biologist, says they are “frenzied”.

Domestic Horses Vs Wild Mustang Horses

Many scientists, including BLM’s, believe that the land isn’t capable of supporting the increasing number of horses free to roam, which aren’t a native species – or even wild – depending on who you ask.

These horses are descended from domestic horses that were brought to Europe in the 16th century. Terry Messmer, a professor at Utah State University’s department of wild and resource management, says that all of the horses are free to roam. “They [came] into an ecosystem that they didn’t coevolve with.”

As worsening droughts and rising temperatures increase competition for food and water, reducing the impact of horses roaming on public lands becomes a more urgent concern, Carlisle says. He is also a member the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board which is a group that advises BLM.

(Some activists claim that BLM unfairly targets horses. Instead, they should focus on reducing the number of livestock grazing on public lands.

Mustangs are found in grasslands of the west U.S., where they mainly eat grass and brush. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management manages the wild horse and burro (donkey) populations and allows them to roam freely on 26.9 million acres (10.9 million hectares) of government land.

The range is divided across 10 herd management zones in Colorado, Nevada Arizona, California, Idaho and Wyoming. According to Smithsonian Magazine, feral horses can also be found on the Atlantic coast, as well as on islands like the Sable, Shackleford, and Assateague Islands.

Wild Mustang Horses in North America

Herds are groups of Mustang horses. According to the Humane Society, a herd is composed of one stallion and eight females with their young. However, separate herds can mix together when in danger. A mare or female horse leads each herd.

The head mare will take her herd to safety in dangerous situations and the stallion will fight.

As with other mammals, mustang horses also give birth to young foals. According to “The American Mustang Guidebook”, Willow Creek Press, 2001, mares have an 11-month gestation period with their foal and usually give birth in April or May. This allows the horse to mature before it enters the winter months.

Most domestic horses, including mustangs, live between 25 and 30 years in captivity. However, some may live to their 40s.

Wild horses, such as the wild mustang populations in the west U.S.A., have shorter lives spans than those living in the wild. However, they can live up to 36 years according to the University of Michigan’s Animal Diversity web (ADW).

Spanish immigrants brought the first horses to North America. They bred them with domestic horses over the years, so mustangs often include a mix of different breeds. National Geographic lists these breeds as draft horses, which are large horses that were bred for work.

Patterns of Wild Mustangs

Mustang interbreeding patterns vary between populations, and some Mustangs are closer to their Spanish horse ancestors. Kiger mustangs from Oregon, for example, live in isolated herds. Their bloodline is largely descended form early Spanish horses which means that they mix less with other breeds.

Mustang horses are wild horses, but can be trained to ride and be controlled like other horses. Horse Canada says that this will take longer if the horses are taken from the wild and not bred in captivity. Also, they may be less comfortable being handled by humans.

Mustang horses are not wild animals, so they cannot be considered endangered. The IUCN Red List of Endangered Species does not include any fertility populations that are descended from domestic animals like mustangs.

According to America’s Mustang program, there are more than 70,000 free-ranging Mustangs in the United States. America’s Mustang program highlights that Mustang numbers dropped dramatically after horses were captured and killed for various reasons including human and dog food.

In 1900, there were approximately 2 million mustang horses in North America. By 1971, the population had dropped to 17,300 according to AMNH.

The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act protected Mustangs and burros on public lands. They were declared “living symbols” by Congress as “living symbols for the pioneer spirit and historic West.” They could also be managed and controlled by this act.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management manages mustang and burro populations on public lands. They capture, hold and offer them up for adoption.

This controversial process has been criticized by some groups such as the American Wild Horse Campaign. Officials should not remove mustangs or burros from public lands, and should instead use contraceptive treatment to manage their numbers.

AMNH says that the mustang horse population can grow rapidly without human intervention because there are not many predators like wolves to control them naturally.

The Wildlife Society is a conservation and wildlife management organization. They consider feral horses or burros to be an invasive species, non-native species that can cause damage to native wildlife and local economies.

According to The Wildlife Society, horses and burros are a threat to native wildlife. They also damage their habitats by overgrazing or trampling plants. AMNH says cattle ranchers are also unhappy with having to share their land with feral horses.

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