History of the Wild Horse & Burro Program—
Wild Horses and Burros
The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 directs BLM to manage and protect wild horses and burros on public lands. With no natural predators and a reproduction rate of more than 20%, wild horse and burro populations have increased dramatically since the Act went into effect. The current population of more than 45,000 animals exceeds the rangeland carrying capacity of 27,000; and has resulted in degraded habitat and conflicts with other uses, such as wildlife and grazing. The Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program is the primary tool that BLM uses to reduce populations and find homes for excess animals.
We administer the Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program throughout our 31 state jurisdiction, conducting approximately 40 adoption events and finding good homes for 2,000 to 3,000 animals each year. We ensure the animals are cared for humanely through a diligent compliance program, averaging 2,000 inspections per year. Thus far in FY 2001, we have found homes for 1,521 animals through 19 temporary and through our contract facility in Cross Plains, Tennessee. These efforts show the major role that we play for the Bureau by adopting more animals than any other BLM office.
New and innovative efforts are continually in the works in the Eastern States. We are constantly trying new ways to integrate the public into this exciting and dynamic program:
Our Internet Adoption website was begun in 1998 and we now conduct 3 to 4 “on-line” competitive adoptions each year, including several for animals with “special needs”. This site has become very popular with the public often receiving 500 hits on a daily basis.
In partnership with the Mississippi Governor’s Office, an interactive Adopt-A-Horse or Burro Program CD- ROM is now available in all 49 library systems in the State.
The pending acquisition of Meadowood Farm in Northern Virginia will offer an opportunity to establish and manage a small holding and demonstration facility, expanding the visibility of the program in the greater metropolitan area and establishing a centrally located site on the central Eastern seaboard for visitors and adoption activities.
Eastern States Wild Horse and Burro staff continue to play a role in the horse community in the East. We attend numerous equine events each year, such as the Equitanna, USA, in Kentucky, one of the largest equine affairs in the world; Equine Affairs in Ohio and Massachusetts; the Carolina Classic Horse Expo; and the U.S. Pony Club East Coast Championship. In addition, the Wild Horse and Burro program makes use of an extensive array of volunteers to promote the program, assist in the adoption events, and help other horse owners. During Fiscal Year 2000, our volunteers donated 11,680 hours of their time for these animals.
Partnerships with horse associations and educational organizations have greatly enhanced the Wild Horse and Burro Program. Of significance are:
Long-standing cooperative efforts with the Kentucky Horse Park where an interactive wild horse & burro exhibit is available to approximately 300,000 visitors each year. The Horse Park also provides a home base for the Mustang Troop–a group of inner-city youth who work with and ride mustangs under the guidance of the Lexington Police Activities League.
The Salvation Army’s Camp Puhtok in Monkton, Maryland have adopted and use three prison-trained wild horses for environmental education purposes.
The Girl Scouts of America used seven adopted horses for riding during summer at their Camp Wildwood in central Florida.
Four horses have been adopted and are in training by the Connecticut Governor’s Guard. These animals will be used by the Guard in parades and other special events throughout the State.
A small holding facility is now available for use at the Piney Woods Environmental School in Mississippi for repossessed, abused or other special animals in need.
The U.S.Army at Fort Myer/Arlington, Virginia adopted another trained mustang for their ceremonial caisson work in parades and burials at Arlington National Cemetery.