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.

The NPS formed under the Organic Act of 1916 with the mission “to conserve the scenery and the natural historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” Further amendments solidified the NPS’s value of preserving the “naturalness” of parklands, Powers explained.

And, within t