America’s wild horses, while not native to the U.S (most are of Spanish ancestry dating back to the 1500s), are an important part of our heritage and a living symbol of spirit of the American West. Over 200 years ago, there were 2MM wild horses roaming public lands in 11 western states. Today that number is less than 73,000 and continues to decline at a staggering rate. These remaining wild horses live in tightly bonded family bands and herd groups. 75% of these groups are below population levels to guarantee long term survival.
Ranchers, urban encroachment, special interest groups and private industry are putting extraordinary pressures on the survival of these herds. With no economic value, horses are perceived as trespassers on public lands, primarily competing with livestock which outnumber horses 37 to 1.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages the public lands and have authority to manage these herds, has responded to this ‘problem’ by rounding-up wild horse herds through helicopters and other dangerous methods – displacing many stallions from their herds as well as mares from their foals – and holding them up in pens. More than 44,000 wild horses are now in long term holding facilities under harsh and stressful conditions – more than those that are living in wild. This solution is costing millions of tax dollar funds and the government can’t afford to feed or care for this many horses. Attempts to adopt them out has failed largely due to excess supply and low demand. As a result, many wild horses are sent to slaughter, with round ups continuing on an ongoing basis.
ABOUT RETURN TO FREEDOM
Return To Freedom is a California based non-profit dedicated to protecting the freedom, diversity and habitat of America’s wild horses through sanctuary, conservation, education and advocacy. RTF offers solutions for the management of the herds. RTF fights to keep family bands together on the range and to reunite them once removed from their lands. RTF currently runs a model sanctuary currently caring for over 40 burros and 500 horses rescued from 11 herd groups in its two locations and private ranches in California.
The Bodhi Tree is proud to support Return to Freedom’s educational and eco-tourism programs at its sanctuaries and on the range. A critical component of RTF’s mission is educating the public. The sanctuaries serve as a platform and model to educate the public and making them advocates for wild horse preservation.