CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Bureau of Land Management officials hope that Mountain State horse lovers will help put the West in West Virginia on Saturday by adopting 40 wild horses removed from Western public rangelands threatened by overgrazing.
Ranging from yearlings to 5-year-olds, the horses being made available for adoption at the Good Evening Ranch near Canvas in Nicholas County are among 7,269 wild horses gathered during the just-ended fiscal year from federal rangelands stretching from Oregon to Arizona.
"The BLM manages, protects and controls wild horses and burros under the authority of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act," said BLM Eastern States Director John Lyon. "This law authorizes the BLM to remove excess wild horses and burros from the range to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands."
The 40 wild horses up for adoption at the Nicholas County event can be previewed from 2 to 7 p.m. Friday. Adoption hours on Saturday will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with adoptions being made on a first-come, first-served basis.
Prospective adopters must have sturdy corrals that are 20 by 20 feet in diameter or larger, and at least six feet high for adult horses. For horses younger than 18 months, corral fences must be at least five feet high and have an attached shelter. Adopters must use a stock-type step-up trailer, rather than side-by-side two-horse trailers, or trailers with ramps.
A minimum adoption fee of $125 will be charged for animals less than 3 years old, with a $25 minimum fee being sought for horses 3 and older. Those adopting a horse for $125 can take home a second "buddy" animal for $25. All horses up for adoption have been examined by a veterinarian and have been vaccinated, de-wormed and blood-tested.
"While the adoption process is simple and straightforward, anyone considering adoption of a wild horse should remember that the animals are wild and require gentling and training," Lyon said.
The 40 horses up for adoption at Canvas are, in keeping with federal law, unbranded, unclaimed free-roaming horses found on Western public rangelands. They are the descendants of animals released by or escaped from Spanish explorers, American Indians, ranchers, explorers, miners or U.S. Cavalry personnel.
With no natural predators, wild horse and burro populations have been known to double within four years in some locations. Mule deer and elk often compete with the wild horses for the same grazing terrain, prompting the removal of thousands of horses from federally managed rangelands each year. BLM biologists estimate that about 37,300 wild horses and burros can be found on BLM-managed land in 10 Western states -- about 11,000 more animals than the range has capacity to support in balance with other rangeland resources and uses.