Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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Established in 1989 and dedicated in 1990, the Prairie National Wild Horse Refuge was the second wild horse sanctuary in the United States. The twelve-thousand-acre Hughes Ranch southwest of Bartlesville and the six-thousand-acre Brent Ranch east of that town host the animals. The privately operated enterprise partners with the Federal Bureau of Land Management to care for two thousand western horses, most of which are too old and defiant to be adopted. The need for the refuge emerged from the overpopulation of wild mustangs and burros in the public ranges of western states such as Nevada. A 1971 law that prevented the extermination of excess horses, and the loss of their natural predators contributed to a boom in their numbers. Adoption programs, birth control, and other measures have been implemented to check the herds. Another care facility was later added near Catoosa on the Robson Ranch. The federal government spends approximately $21 million annually to keep the animals. The increasing cost has made future operation of the refuge of questionable utility.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 14 October 1989, 5 February 1990, 20 August 1991, and 8 August 2003. Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 5 May 1990, 5 February 1992, and 14 May 2001.

Larry O'Dell

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