Wild horses are an issue in the United States at the moment. Kept in a range 100 miles southwest of Denver, Colorado, their 80-acre holding pen is starting to get too small. Much too small. And putting them back in the wild may not be the best solution.
The dispute going on has to do with the fact that their number increases drastically, but apparently releasing them in the wild is not an option at the time. When they are removed from the ‘wild’ pastures, they are place into enclosed pastures, where they are in contact with humans for the first time in their lives. Either way, they aren’t truly free anymore.
Advocates claim that this transitioning action back and forth, along with their lack of freedom, is needlessly cruel and should stop. They and the government, however, do agree on one thing: things are getting out of control. And much too expensive to continue at the rate they are going.
They are a mix of descendants of US Cavalry horses, workhorse and those brought by Spanish Settlers and the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 allows the government to remove any excess population from the wild since they do not have natural predators, allowing the population to double every four years.
As for the main reason for the advocates’ complaints, it has to do with the roundups – they are not humane and quite dangerous. They are advocating change in the way they are handled on the range instead. An example of the dangers is how some can run into barbed wire fences by accident, or at times foals can be trampled. A secondary one is the depression that comes after separation from their family members.
Although some can be put up for adoption, most don’t get that opportunity and the removal from the wild and transfer to captivity is now at its limit. However, the care they receive is great, making it a very good reason to keep the land open: in the wild, drought and winter makes it hard for the horses.
The number of adoptions is in steep decline due to increase in the price of hay. But this means an increase in costs for the organization as well. Therefore, they are looking into using fertility-control for the mares – approved by advocacy groups.
Unfortunately, selling isn’t always the best choice, either – most sold are sent to slaughterhouses outside of the US, especially in Mexico. But, the ultimate goal for advocates is still full freedom.