The wild free-roaming horses and burros Act of 1971 states, "It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands." Read the full 1971 Act >
The Mustangs at Wild Heart Sanctuary each carry a brand on the left side of their necks indicating they survived a grueling round up and capture. In the photo, Noble Moon's branded badge of courage is seen. She received it at just six months old.
Clearly, the behavior of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which has chased horses up to 20 miles with helicopters to relocate them to holding pens, violates the legal protections and spirit of the 1971 Act. Herds are splintered, mares and fillies separated, and many tragically suffer severe injuries or death. Once rounded up, BLM staff assign the horses to one of two categories: those who will be sold, those who will be slaughtered.
Wild horses sold, then returned to the BLM because they cannot be "broken" for domestic use face imminent death if this occurs two times. We embrace this wild nature and currently have several drop-outs from the "I refuse to be domesticated" club.
State of Their Fate
Right now, the fate of the wild Mustangs is in the hands of the government. Since 1971, protections under the law recognized their historic pioneer spirit and intended them to remain part of the Western landscape. Yet, roundups of wild horses continue. In recent years, these protections have been at risk and this means wild Mustangs in captivity and in the wild could be freely slaughtered.
The strong cattle lobby claims the wild horses (and burros) are over grazing federal lands, while cows and calves graze on taxpayer property at almost no cost and the cattle ranchers profit. The argument is absurd when you consider the numbers: fewer than 48,000 wild horses on 31 million BLM-managed acres vs. 9 million domestic livestock grazing federal lands. There may actually be more wild Mustangs in captivity than in the wild.