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Western authorities argue over humane treatment of wild horses

Wild horse populations have developed across the American West since settlers brought them to the Americas and used them during Westward Expansion. Turned loose or lost during wars, the horses multiplied and are now believed to be a nuisance to nature, The New York Times reports.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is expected to round up about 6,000 wild horses and burros that roam on public land in six Western states in order to make more grazing land available for wildlife such as deer and bighorn sheep, UPI reports.

The horses will be brought to federal corrals where healthy animals will be made available for rehabilitation. However, animal rights activists argue that the roundups are unnecessary, cruel and have caused the BLM to hold more animals in captivity than they have left on their rangelands.

But the horses are technically federal property under the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971, which reaffirmed the animals as "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West," the Times reports. The 300 herd management areas are now run by the BLM which makes decisions regarding the animals' impact on the ecosystems.  
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