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U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

About the Wild Horse and Burro Program

The Bureau of Land Management's Wild Horse and Burro Program logo

The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, as amended by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 and the Public Rangeland Improvement Act of 1978, directs the protection and management of wild horses and burros on public lands. The USDA Forest Service, by authority of the Secretary of Agriculture, is responsible for managing the nation's wild horses and burros on National Forest System lands. The Forest Service administers 34 active wild horse or burro territories in Arizona, California, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah. Approximately 24 of the 34, mostly in Nevada, are jointly managed in coordination with the Bureau of Land Management.

The Forest Service's primary responsibilities are:

  • Protect wild horses and burros from capture, branding, harassment, or death.
  • Manage wild horses and burros in a manner that is designed to achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the land.
  • Manage activities at the minimally feasible level, yet provide for natural ecological balance of all wildlife species while taking into consideration other uses.
  • Maintain an inventory of wild horses and burros on National Forest System lands. See US Forest Service Wild Horse Burro Territories, February 2014 (PDF, 138 KB).
  • Remove excess animals from the range so as to achieve appropriate management levels of wild horses and burros.
  • Transfer title, after one year, to individuals who have adopted wild horses or burros removed from public rangelands, provided the animals have received proper and humane care and treatment during that year.

National Headquarters Rangeland Management and Vegetation Ecology Staff

The Director of Rangeland Management and Vegetation Ecology covers two main staff areas: Rangeland Management and Vegetation Ecology. Rangeland Management covers the management and permit administration of National Forests and Grasslands rangelands as well as the Wild Horse and Burro Program. Vegetation Ecology covers Ecology, Soils, Botany, and Invasives Species programs.