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Straying Wild Horses and the Range Landowner: The Search for Peaceful Coexistence

By Alfred W. Buckley, William W. Buckley

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In 1971 Congress passed Public Law 92-195, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and -Burros Act,' to preserve a vanishing symbol of American pioneer heritage.' Before this statute was enacted, wild horses and burros were in danger of extinction. Today the success of the Act has prompted much controversy as to whether wild horses overpopulate the public rangelands in the Western United States. Private landowners adjacent to federal regions often complain that wild horses "stray" onto their parcels and consume their forage and water. While owners have the right to use and enjoy their property free from incursions, Congress intended protection of a living emblem of the Nation's spirit to be of paramount importance. This article will examine the conflicting interrelationships between wild horses and private property holders. An analysis of the Wild Horses Act and the relevant case law will demonstrate that the prevailing method
used to eliminate the "straying problem"-extensive governmental removal of horses from public and private lands-countermands the protective purposes of the Act and of related public lands statutes. So long as intensive culling remains the standard agency practices to relieve straying, current mechanisms must be improved to reconcile removal and the Act's goals. This article suggests various superior management systems and several innovative approaches to balance the needs of landowners and of wild horses.


Katie Carroll

Date 1983
Publication Title Public Land & Resources Law Review
Volume 4
Pages 29-50
Publisher University of Montana Alexander Blewett III School of Law
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals in culture
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Horses
  5. Land management
  6. Land use
  7. Mammals
  8. Nature
  9. Physical environment
  10. rangelands
  11. stray animals
  12. Wild animals