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Wild horse organization seeks land to lease for pasture due to drought; encourages adoptions

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by Tasiyagnunpa Livermont

Due to this summer’s drought, a 50-year-old local wild horse organization and sanctuary announces the need to lease grazing land and adopt out eligible horses.

The International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burrows mostly feeds hay in its operation. The recent hay prices and drought have exacerbated the need for pasture.

Due to a long history of extermination by federal and state authorities, wild horses, like the buffalo, have faced various threats, as well as enjoyed various allies.

ISPMB was created in 1960 by Velma “Wild Horse Annie” Johnston, who helped pass wild horse protections, first in her home state of Nevada and then federally with the Wild Horse Annie Law (PL86-234) in 1959 and The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act (PL92-195) in 1971.

Current president Karen Sussman relocated the organization to South Dakota.

The organization currently hosts several separate herds, two of which have their ancestral social structures still intact. These herds serve as the subjects of an almost decade old study of wild horse social patterns that could inform better federal treatment of wild horses and create a model management program for conservation.

In the wild, 179 herds currently exist, Sussman said, with less than 30,000 wild horses left.

Wild horses are often called a heritage species of the American West. As such, Sussman’s discussion of the herds both as a heritage species and a conservation project is unique among other animals to the mustangs’ history both recently and in the fossil record.

ISPMB’s philosophy follows, like others working to save heritage breeds, that genetic diversity is far greater in heritage breeds than in modern domestic breeds.

From there, conservation takes over, with young horses unable to survive birth or youth being culled out of the herd, as death would do in the wild. Other horses needing modern interventions for survival are also culled out, treated, but almost never allowed back into the herd.

That is where ISPMB’s adoption program kicks in. Others in the adoption group include young bachelor horses.

These horses are kid-gentle, said Sussman, gesturing to a group of horses that are up for adoption from the various herds in the sanctuary.

She said she observes especially that those from the herds with intact social structures are more respectful in general as part of their life in the herd, because they are being trained by older horses in good herd behavior which transfers to their human owners.

From there, they are well accustomed to humans thanks to ISPMB staff and volunteers.

Qualifications for adoption include an adoption fee, about 144 sq. ft. bedding space, about 400 sq. ft. turn out space and the promise to never turn the horse over slaughter and to provide a lifetime home.

Time spent with the horse by the owner, Sussman said, is the most important qualification.

For more information regarding adoption or to place a bid for a land lease, contact Karen Sussman, International Society for the Protection of Mustands and Burros at 605-964-6866 or 605-430-2088.

Find more information on visit their website, www.ispmb.org.

 

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