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Environment

What Should Be Done With Oregon's Wild Horses?

OPB | Feb. 7, 2014 12:06 p.m. | Updated: Feb. 7, 2014 2:03 p.m.

Wild Horses In Crisis

Wild Horses In Crisis

Vince Patton / OPB

Editor’s note: You can join the online conversation for this segment here: Wild Horses in Crisis.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is facing a crisis about how to deal with mustangs on its land. The wild horses pose an environmental threat if their populations are left unchecked, but the cost of keeping them in captivity currently totals $46 million a year, and space is running out in the government corrals. “We’re completely maxed out,” says Rob Sharp, the wild horses manager for the BLM in Oregon. “It absolutely can’t go on forever.”

Solutions have been offered, but none of them are ideal. Adoption programs have had limited success, but there’s not enough of a market for every horse to be adopted. The Humane Society of the United States says the BLM should leave more horses in the wild, but the BLM says that will damage the landscape and cause the horses to compete against one another and starve. Birth control has not worked well because the drugs wear off and the process is costly. And slaughter has proved to be a political non-starter.

What do you think should be done with Oregon’s wild horse population?

On Thursday, February 6 at 8:30 p.m., OPB’s Oregon Field Guide TV program devotes its entire show to wild horses. You might also like to check out the  full digital story on mustangs.

Join the online conversation here: Wild Horses in Crisis.

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