Tag Archives: Wild Horse and Burro Act

Wild Horses in Peril

Guest Post by Karen McLain

In June of 2009, I was on my way home from a workshop with Cowboy Artist of America, Jim C. Norton, when I first visited wild horses. It was the Onaqui herd, located west of the Salt Lake area in Utah.  As I began to paint them, I had no idea the profound impact they would have on my heart, and the important way they would change my painting. The first series I painted, “Among the Mustangs,” featured that Onaqui herd, and 10 days before I first exhibited them, 200 of those horses were rounded up.

Onaqui herd

Onaqui herd, Utah. ©Tribe Equus

History of Wild Horse Management 

At that time, I began to learn about the problems facing wild horses and see what solutions were being worked on. In 1971, the Wild Horse and Burro Act was passed and the BLM and Forest Service were mandated to manage wild horses where they existed on the range lands at that time.

KarenMcLain-Stallion Bunch

Stallion Bunch. ©Karen Mclain

During the past several years Herd Management Areas have been zeroed out, (or vastly reduced, threatening the genetic viability of the herd), and the horses taken to Long Term Holding. Currently, there are more horses in Long Term Holding facilities than are living wild on the range.

In 2011 the National Academy of Science (NAS) did an independent study of BLM management practices and the wild horse program. The findings of that study were recently published and brought before the BLM Advisory Board. It is imperative that the BLM follow the recommendations of the NAS study for a science based and consistent, humane management approach.

Current Needs of Wild Horses  

KarenMcLain-Mare foal

Mare and Foal. ©Karen McLain

My hope is for more on-range management with accurate (not over reported), numbers of wild horses and low stress removal as needed. I also would like to see the continued use of PZP, a vaccine that blocks fertilization. The other aspect that is vital is the collaboration of community partnerships—onsite projects, waterholes, trash clean up, herd monitoring—as well as giving the land a break from multi-use (cattle and sheep grazing) in primarily Wild Horse designated areas.

KarenMcLain-Apache sparr

Apache Sparr. ©Karen McLain

For further information see:

Wyoming RemovalsThe Peril of Cloud’s Famous Herd“Why Wild Horses”,

“Why Wild Horses” by Carol Walker, National Academy of SciencesFacts to Consider

Please enjoy these videos:

Karen McLain

Karen McLain Videos






Painting Wild Horses