Pockets of feral mustangs and burros roam throughout the western United States on public lands federally managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM horses and burros come in many different colors, sizes, and types. The challenges of managing them are as varied as the animals themselves.
The BLM gave a history of feral horses and burros in the United States, as well as an overview of their wild horse and burro management goals and strategies, at the 2014 American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Convention, held Dec. 6-10 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
BLM horses range from Thoroughbred- to stock- to draft-type animals. “Most trace their origins to modern domestic stock released or escaped within the last 100 to 200 years,” says Albert Kane, DVM, MPVM, PhD, a veterinarian who works with the BLM. Certain herds might also have links to Spanish or New World Iberian horses that Spanish explorers introduced to North America or those used by American Indians.
Burros living on public lands of the American West have a slightly more straightforward history, according to the BLM. Jesuit priest Padre Eusebio Kino is believed to have brought the first burros to the Arizona Territory in North American in 1679. He promoted the burros as pack animals in the expansion of the American Southwest. Prospectors also widely used burros during the Colorado Gold Rush, which started in 1858. Many of these anima