Managing Feral Horses on National Park Service Lands

Horses and ponies currently reside several National Park Service units. Here’s how the service cares for these animals.
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This is a synopsis of a presentation to veterinarians during The American Mustang session at the 2014 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 6-10 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

For most people, the mention of wild horses in the United States conjures images of Bureau of Land Management (BLM)-administered American Mustangs roaming the West. However, pockets feral horses also live throughout the country on National Park Service (NPS) lands and are managed by this federal agency.

Jenny Powers, DVM, PhD, an NPS wildlife veterinarian, presented the unique challenges of managing feral horses on NPS lands during the 2014 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 6-10 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She also described the NPS’s relationship with the BLM in co-managing these horses.

Horses and ponies currently reside in about 20 NPS units; 10 units contain feral donkeys and burros. These herds include, among others, the famous Assateague Island ponies residing off the coast of Maryland and Virginia, the Shackleford ponies of Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina, and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park feral horses in North Dakota

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Michelle Anderson is the former digital managing editor at The Horse. A lifelong horse owner, Anderson competes in dressage and enjoys trail riding. She’s a Washington State University graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business administration and extensive coursework in animal sciences. She has worked in equine publishing since 1998. She currently lives with her husband on a small horse property in Central Oregon.

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