Federal project finds new uses for wild horses

Aug 14, 2009
by WLJ
Federal project finds new uses for wild horses

What began as a pilot project for the U.S. Border Patrol’s Spokane, WA, Sector to use wild horses to patrol America’s borders is quickly becoming common practice for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in an initiative dubbed Project Noble Mustang.

In the last two years, various Border Patrol stations have adopted 31 mustangs through the BLM Colorado Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP). Another 10 are still in training.

WHIP is a cooperative agreement between BLM and the Colorado Department of Corrections at the Ca on City, CO, Correctional Institution and is part of an inmate rehabilitative program. The inmates provide personal and extensive training for wild horses before the horses are adopted by the Border Patrol. The Ca on City facility is the largest of five facilities in the country that hosts training for the horses.

“The WHIP is an excellent program that helps rehabilitate the inmates and helps the BLM provide trained mustangs to the public, and now with Project Noble Mustang, we’re bringing this process full circle to reduce the number of wild horses in holding facilities,” said Fran Ackley, horse lead for the BLM Colorado. “With the success the Border Patrol is having with the mustangs, we hope to one day be the primary provider of horses for the agency.”

Of the 31 already adopted, 21 are positioned along the northern border within the Spokane Sector at six different Border Patrol stations from eastern Washington to western Montana. Because of its success, the program has expanded to include 10 mustangs along the southwest border at four different Border Patrol Stations. Of the 10 currently in training, four will go to the northern border and six will go to the southern border.

The BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program manages wild horses and burros to ensure healthy, free-roaming herd populations at levels consistent with the land’s capacity to support them. BLM manages more than 37,000 wild horses and burros (approximately 33,100 horses and 3,800 burros) that roam public rangelands in 10 western states.

WHIP is open two Fridays each month for adoptions and offers saddle trained, halter trained, and untrained horses for adoption. For more information about BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro program or adopting a mustang, please visit www.blm.gov/ wo/st/en/prog/wild_horse_ and_burro/adoption_of_ wild_horses.html. To see some of the 2,200 horses currently available for adoption in Ca on City, go to www.coloradoci.com. — WLJ