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Mustang Camp: Promoting Healthy Lands and Healthy Horses

Extension Education

Kalen Taylor
Extension assistant Professor - Agriculture
Utah State University Extension


In 1971, the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act declared wild horses and burros (WHBs) as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West” and required that the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service to protect WHBs from “capture, branding, harassment, or death.” Public characterizations of WHBs range from being an American heritage symbol to be preserved at all cost, to an undesirable invasive pest fit for eradication (Scasta et al., 2018). Previous work has identified common misunderstandings of WHB ecology and history which at least partially may inform public opinion (Frey, 2021). Survey results from 3,000+ U.S. respondents indicated only 35% correctly identified horses as non-native. Surprisingly, < 10% of Utah and Nevada residents understood that WHBs are not native to the Americas and only 40-60% knew that horses were managed in Nevada and Utah. Many youth in Utah may not be familiar with wild horses or at least may not have formed opinions regarding their management. Our objectives were twofold. 1) develop a youth WHB engagement model, and 2) quantify changes in WHB knowledge and attitudes towards their management. Our programming, known as “Mustang Camp” provides an opportunity for youth, including underserved populations, to gain science-based knowledge and create informed opinions. To accomplish our objectives, we used a mix of classroom, on-range education and hands-on experiences with free roaming equids for 56 youth over the past two years. Approximately half indicated they had not seen WHBs previously. Pre- versus post-program knowledge test scores increased by 42.71% including a 161% increase in correctly identifying horses as non-native ungulates. Additionally, a 346% increase was observed for those in favor of interventional management. There was an 87% increase in acceptance of “round-up” population controls and a 34% increase in acceptance of contraceptive use. Additional evaluation metrics indicated that participants’ interest and opinions on management shifted as they gained science-based knowledge. Over 90% of attendees had continuing interest in learning more about WHBs and their management in the future.

Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted for judging. It will be displayed at the AM/PIC if not selected as a State winner. The abstract will be published in the proceedings.

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Authors: Kalen Taylor, Steven Price, Jessie Hadfield
  1. Taylor, K. Extension assistant Professor - Agriculture, Utah State University, Utah, 84624
  2. Price, S. Extension Assistant Professor, Utah State University, Utah, 84501
  3. Hadfield, J. Extension Associate Professor, Utah State University, Utah, 84648