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 Saving Wildlife Together - Saving the Wild Mustang

Wild Mustang

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There is only one species of domestic horse but around 400 different breeds of horses specializing in everything from pulling wagons to racing. The mustang is descended from horses first brought to North America by the Spanish in the 16th century. The mustangs roamed free in western US in greater numbers than any other wild horse on earth, banding together in herds to protect against predators. Like all horses, mustangs are herbivores living on grass and foliage. Learning to live in such harsh conditions found in the plains of western United States, mustangs can go without food or water for several days. When mares are ready to give birth to foals, they leave the herd and bear their foals in well-hidden locations. After a couple of days, the mother and foal join the herd and remain with it for a year or so. Male colts are driven from the herd at about 3 years old by the stallion that has only mares in his herd. Too young to attract females, male colts form a herd, occasionally challenging stallions of other herds to establish their own herd. Mustangs are now sparsely distributed in remote areas in nine of the northwestern United States. When they were brought nearly to extinction, laws were passed in 1971 that made it a federal offense to harass or kill mustangs. However, mustangs are still killed by farmers and ranchers. The greatest destruction of mustangs was due to their capture and use in the Boer and World War I wars. Many other mustangs were caught and shot for use in pet food and fertilizer. Their numbers in the 1960ís were estimated between 18,000-34,000 but by the early 1970ís there were fewer than 10,000.

Wild Mustang - Fast Facts

Type: Mammal
Diet: Herbivore
Size: Height at the shoulders, 30 to 69 in (76 to 175 cm)
Weight: 120 to 2,200 lbs (54 to 998 kg)
Status: STABLE

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