The story of the wild American mustang is one of grit and hardship. Revered as a majestic icon of the West, behind the image is a cruel reality of competition, starvation, and degradation.
The Bureau of Land Management is tasked with managing a population of wild horses and burros that is growing exponentially. In a new report to Congress, the BLM concluded that its adoption incentive program—which pays people to adopt wild horses and burros—is a key part of achieving a sustainable program for the animals. Continuing incentive payments recently instituted under the program will promote adoptions in a way that benefits rangeland ecosystems and taxpayers.
With federal protections and no natural predators, the number of free-roaming animals has skyrocketed. The BLM sets an appropriate management level for wild horses based on the amount of rangeland available, a figure that currently stands at just under 2,000 animals in Utah. But the current population in the state is about three times that designated carrying capacity.
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