First and foremost, wilderness areas need to be established that are of sufficient size and habitat composition to provide for the long term survival of genetically viable, self-stabilizing wild horse herds.
To allow density-dependent population regulation, the design of each area should involve natural boundaries wherever possible, and where necessary, artificial horse-proof barriers. These dedicated wilderness areas should feature restored ecosystems, including wild horse predators such as mountain lions. A stipulation should be that wild horses and burros be the principal species in these areas, in conjunction with all naturally occurring wildlife.
One example of this self-regulating model can be found with the Montgomery Pass herd, on the California/Nevada border. For twenty-five years, these horses have survived unmanaged, and through natural attrition have maintained stable population levels of roughly 150 to 200 animals.
Such a model complies with the true intent of the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, ensuring preservation of America’s wild horses in a natural state, as part of our national heritage.
The Act calls for dedicated areas to be “devoted principally” to wild horses and burros. The Bureau of Land Management’s current policy contravenes this mandate by favoring private livestock and game animals on the very areas that were legally allocated to wild horses, steadily reducing wild horse management levels, sometimes to the point of eradication (the so-called “zeroing out” of a herd area).