WILD HORSES TIMELINE

1400s-1500s Spanish explorers bring mustang descendants to North America, where the ice age had killed prehistoric wild horses. 1800s Horses travel west with settlers, including to the Great Basin. 1897 Nevada passes a law allowing citizens to shoot unbranded horses on public lands. 1901 Nevada law is repealed after ranchers protest their horses were being shot. 1900 Up to 2 million wild horses roam U.S. rangelands. Early 1900s Wild horses rounded up, sent to Europe in World War I. 1920s Mustang roundups increase along with a commercial demand for horse-related products, from pet food to glue. 1930s During the Great Depression, poor farmers use captured wild horses to replace tractors, which they can no longer afford to use. 1934 Taylor Grazing Act passes to manage grazing on pubic lands, where cattle and sheep compete with wild horses. 1946 The Bureau of Land Management is formed to handle grazing rights and other uses of public land. 1959 Wild Horse Annie Act passes Congress, prohibiting the use of motor vehicles for hunting wild horses and burros. 1971 Wild and Free-roaming Horses and Burros Act passes Congress, providing federal protection for herds on public lands with the program administered by the BLM. 1975 BLM begins first wild horse roundups. 1976 U.S. Supreme Court upholds constitutionality of 1971 Act. 1976 Congress allows humane use of helicopters to capture wild horses as part of Federal Land Policy and Management Act. 1978 Congress passes Public Rangelands and Improvement Act to require the BLM to inventory herds and determine appropriate management levels of wild horses and burros on public land. 1982 Under public pressure, the BLM director issues moratorium to end the destruction of excess wild horses that can't be adopted. Late 1980s BLM begins contracting with long-term pastures to hold excess wild horses to live out their lives, mostly in the Midwest. 2004 Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., inserts a rider into an appropriations bill to permit the BLM to sell excess wild horses "without limitation," opening the door to sanctioned mustang slaughter. 2005 BLM implements new rules to prevent wild horse buyers from sending them to slaughter after discovering some had been killed. 2007 Last three horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. close, although animals can still be exported to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. 2008 The General Accounting Office concludes the BLM's wild horse and burro program isn't doing enough to control the mustang population on the range and holding costs. "If not controlled, off-the-range holding costs will continue to overwhelm the program." It recommends considering "humane destruction and sales without limitations" as allowed by the amended act. 2009 In response to the GAO report, BLM Director Bob Abbey and Interior Secretary Ken

Salazar announce a new strategy to turn around the program. The effort focuses on slowing population growth rates on the range through better fertility control and managing sex ratios. 2011 As part of its developing new strategies and under pressure from Congress, the BLM puts out requests for bids on private and public-private partnerships to establish sanctuaries to care for wild horses as an alternative to costly short-term holding facilities.

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