The image of the cowboy riding off into the sunset has been a part of America’s soul since Hollywood made its first Western. And the picture of the gold prospector walking along side his trusty burro, out to seek his fortune, remains ingrained in our nation’s past. Even today, the thunderous galloping of wild horses across the desert plains continues to serve as a backdrop for the southwest’s stage. But these animals aren’t just characters in a film or photographs in a history book. Instead, they continue to thrive as part of our nation’s heritage.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) protects, manages and controls wild horses and burros under the authority of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act
to ensure that healthy herds thrive on healthy rangelands. The BLM cares for these living symbols as part of its multiple-use mission under the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act.
In Arizona, the BLM manages two wild horse herds totaling approximately 200 head in the Cerbat Mountains, located northwest of Kingman and nestled between the Cibola Wildlife Refuge and the Army’s Yuma Proving Ground. In addition, the BLM manages close to 1,600 head of wild burros roaming public lands in seven herd management areas and three herd areas.
One of the BLM’s major responsibilities is to determine the “appropriate management level” for wild horses and burros on the public rangelands. Because these animals have virtually no natural predators, their herd sizes can double nearly every four years. It is the BLM’s role to make certain the number of wild horses and burros exists in a balance with other public land resources and uses.
To help restore this delicate balance, the BLM gathers some wild horses and burros and offers them for adoption to people and groups willing and able to provide long-term humane care. Since its Adopt-a-Wild Horse or Burro program began in 1973, the agency has successfully adopted more than 207,000 animals into loving environments.