Feral Mustangs | Why They Need Our Help

The Feral Mustang - a Symbol of Strength and Freedom

In 1971, the Congress of the U.S. designated mustangs as "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West, which continue to contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people."
What is a feral mustang?   Originally the Spanish mustang was brought from Europe to North America in the 1600s.  Horses that escaped their captors and so became wild were referred to as 'feral', or 'mestenos', meaning wild.  

Mustangs became an invaluable part of the development of the American West.  In wild herds that multiplied, many began to think of them more as pests than as valuable animals or part of American history. 

Since 1971, the fate, control, and population of the feral mustang and burros has been in the hands of the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management, through the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. 

Some of what they have accomplished has been for the protection of the wild horses, like making it a criminal felony to shoot or poison the animals. 

The 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act was written to ensure that the herds stayed healthy and could thrive on good rangeland. 

They determined guidelines for the techniques that could be used to round up the Mustangs, ensuring they were humane.  One method, using a Judas horse, peacefully led the frightened horses into a temporary corral. 

Wild Horse Adoption Practices

Adoption practices were determined to provide the horses with homes and long-term care. Those who wished to adopt one of the mustangs was required to pay a small fee, ranging from $25 to $125.  Some abused this provision, however, purchasing the feral horses to be immediately re-sold to the slaughter houses. Because of that, an amendment to the bill was instituted preventing buyers from re-selling the horses within a year's time- except under certain conditions.

Unfortunately for the wild horses, too few were being adopted out, and the pool of captured horses began to increase.  As a result, in January 2005, a very controversial amendment was made to an appropriation bill before Congress.  

Former Senator Conrad Burns added to the adoption program, which allowed the sale of captured horses who were older than 10 years old and who had unsuccessfully been put up for adoption at least three times. Some progress has been made to repeal this amendment. But the work goes on of saving the wild horse, including the closing of the slaughter houses.

50,000 Feral Horses in Captivity

Since there are not enough adopters, the sheer number of captured wild horses remains high. There are approximately 50,000 feral horses in captivity.

The conditions they have been forced to live in for the last several years - stuffed into holding pens where they can barely move, no trees or shade, no room as typical active animals to run or roam - is deplorable.

Madeleine Pickens, wife of billionaire T. Boone Pickens, has proposed a excellent solution to the problem, one that would be good for every party involved - the horses, the government, and people who love the horses and cherish their freedom.  Her project, the Wild Horse Eco Sanctuary, is well under way.  Find her Facebook page Mustang Monument: Wild Horse Eco Resort here

Mrs. Pickens' proposal is to loose the captured animals into a sanctuary where they could roam and run as they were intended to do.  She herself would provide the land, and turn it into what would amount to a protected national park, where anyone could visit and enjoy these beautiful creatures native to North America. 
Join in supporting the cause to save the feral mustang from slaughter, and possibly extinction.  Visit Mrs. Pickens' website, and volunteer your support and help. 

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