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Wild Horse and Burro Program - UtahHerd Management Areas

They live on Utah's public lands and roam free in 20 herd areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Wild horses have a long, colorful and eventful history...

Horses became extinct on the North American continent some 10,000 years ago. Around the mid-I500s, they were reintroduced by Spanish explorers. Horses were used to pull wagons, help build the railroads, carry mail along the Pony Express Trail, and plow our fields. Sometimes horses would escape from farms, ranches, or the Cavalry. Finding the Western open range a great place to live, their numbers increased. The pioneers considered the wild herds to be a good source to replenish their stock. However, at the turn of the century and the advent of motorized vehicles, the demand for horses declined.

During the 1920s through the 1950s, some people saw the horse herds as an opportunity to make a quick profit. Mustangers rounded up large numbers of wild horses and sold them for meat and pet food. This practice angered many who considered these majestic animals to represent the spirit of the West. The efforts of Nevada’s Velma Johnston (Wild Horse Annie) and thousands of school children were instrumental in the passing of laws protecting wild horses. The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 provided for the protection and control of wild horses and burros on public lands.

In Utah, 4,000 wild horses and 300 burros roam freely within 20 herd management areas (HMAs), two of which have burros. The areas range from 15,000 to 262,000 acres and numbers within the areas vary from 35 to over 400 animals. The BLM and U.S. Forest Service strive to preserve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship in these areas. Each year the Utah BLM offers excess animals for adoption at various facilities around the state. Through the Adopt-A-Horse or Burro Program, the BLM invites and encourages qualified applicants to provide good homes for these living legends.

It is unlawful to chase, harass, injure and/or capture wild horses and burros. If you hear of or witness an illegal act please call the BLM hotline at (800) 722-3998