Mar 9, 2010 5:07 PM by Elaine Sheridan
They're considered an American icon and a symbol of the West. But very soon, thousands of wild horses could be moving east.
The Bureau of Land Management says wild horse populations are growing so quickly, they can barely keep up with them. In fact, in the tiny Wyoming city of Green River, there are so many wild horses - city officials say they're having a tough time keeping them away from homes, streets and the local cemetery. City workers have spent the last couple of weeks putting up new fences and around the Riverview Cemetery and a cattle guard at the front entrance after a rowdy herd racked up about $5,000 in damages in the last few months. The cemetery is right next to White Mountain, where hundreds of wild horses live.
Lorraine Keith, with the BLM in nearby Rock Springs, Wyo., says there are about 5,000 wild horses between Wyoming and Colorado and every year, the wild horse population grows larger. With so many wild horses, it's tough for the BLM to keep track of them.
"They can double their population every four years," Keith said. "If we don't keep removing the horses or find some other way to keep their numbers down, they can overpopulate the range," Keith said.
Lorraine Keith says it's more of a reason to continue the controversial rounding up of the wild horse population every year. Last year, the BLM removed 1,000 horses from the range.
Most of the horses are brought to sanctuaries in the Dakotas and Nebraska, while others are used in certain a prison program in Canon City.
Keith says the Bureau is looking to move more horses to the East Coast, to expand its sanctuaries. But there is a lot of hesitation from Westerners about that proposal. Many believe the wild horses should stay out West. The BLM is looking to remove about 1,500 horses from Wyoming this fall. It's unclear where they will be moved to. Click here for more information on the BLM's wild horse and burro program.