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The complex world of wild horses in the West

The carcass of a mule deer that likely starved last winter. Biologists warn that rising wild horse populations are wiping out the winter forage mule deer depend on for survival through the long, harsh Nevada winters. (Courtesy of Ashley Ahearn)
The carcass of a mule deer that likely starved last winter. Biologists warn that rising wild horse populations are wiping out the winter forage mule deer depend on for survival through the long, harsh Nevada winters. (Courtesy of Ashley Ahearn)

The American West has a mustang problem. There are tens of thousands of wild horses in the western U.S. The federal government rounds thousands of them from public lands each year.

Scientists say there are too many horses than the land can support. But some believe the horses should be left to run free.

Reporter Ashley Ahearn takes a look at the controversy and talks about her own experience adopting a wild horse.

To hear Mustang, Ashley Ahearn’s four-part series about the complex world of wild horses in the West, click here.

For information about Ashley Ahearn’s new children’s book “The Little Black Mustang,” illustrated by Catie Michel, click here.

Shannon Windle is the president of the Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund in Reno, Nevada. The group opposes wild horse round-ups and operates a horse sanctuary. (Courtesy of Ashley Ahearn)

Mike Cox has been a biologist with the Nevada Department of Wildlife for 30 years. In that time he’s watched horse herd sizes boom and warns “the ecosystem is going to collapse. I would give parts of Nevada a decade. It’s all it’s got left.” (Courtesy of Ashley Ahearn)

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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