Free-Ranging Horses

Report Abstract:

Implementation of the New Mexico wild horse statute (NMSA 77-18-5, 2007) has been controversial, due in part, to confusion over how New Mexico wild horses are defined in context to New Mexico public lands. New Mexico public lands are owned and managed by the state and have specific purposes. The identified purposes of these public lands inform management goals and objectives which may conflict with implementation of the NM wild horse statute. Also contributing to uncertainty is poor understanding of what constitutes rangeland able to support a New Mexico wild horse herd. Public lands and associated habitats on which New Mexico wild horses occur represent temporally and spatially varying ecological carrying capacities. Site-specific assessment of habitat attributes is recommended for reliable estimates of wild horse carrying capacities where they occur. The New Mexico State Legislature, New Mexico Governor’s office and state agencies may consider prioritizing the purposes of New Mexico’s public lands in relation to implementation of the New Mexico wild horse statute. Ultimately, the New Mexico State Legislature has the authority to capitalize on opportunities and address challenges to implementation of the New Mexico wild horse statute (NMSA 77-18-5, 2007). Outcomes of this assessment provide a platform for further discussions and examination of implementation of the statute. The following report and three maps provide details of this assessment.

Key Words: New Mexico, public land, free-ranging horse, free-roaming horse, wild horse, feral horse

Map 1:
Land Stewardship
of New Mexico
Map 2a:
New Mexico Public Lands
Assessment Outcomes
Map 2b:
New Mexico Public Lands
Highlights No Identified Conflicts