term "Mustang" refers to the wild horses that roam the
ranges of the western United States. The Mustang is not a
breed but rather a mixture of many breeds that have co-mingled over
many years. Swift, sure-footed, tough, and intelligent,
Mustangs weigh from 600 to 1000 pounds and are well suited for the
rugged conditions of life on the western ranges.
These wild horses are
descendants of animals that escaped from or were released by Spanish
explorers, ranchers, miners, soldiers, and Native Americans.
In the mid-seventeenth century they numbered between two and four
million. Today, only about 50,000 survive. This drastic
reduction in their numbers was due in part to the "mustangers"
who rounded up wild horses and sent them to slaughter.
After a nationwide
grassroots effort to protect these magnificent creatures, Congress
passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act in 1971 which
states: "..wild free roaming horses..are living symbols of the
historic and pioneer spirit of the West; they contribute to the
diversity of life forms within the nation and enrich the lives of
the American people".
The Bureau of Land
Management (BLM), an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior
that administers 264 million acres of public lands, was entrusted
with the responsibility of preserving and managing the wild horse herds
to maintain an ecological balance between wild horse hers to
maintain an ecological balance between wild horses, native wildlife
and domestic animals grazing on western public lands.