Horse News

There’s a herd of wild horses roaming not too far from St. Louis

by Elise Rich as published on

A herd of wild horses has been roaming the Ozark hills for nearly 100 years

It’s believed the ancestors of the Shannon County wild horses go back to the Great Depression era, with farmers releasing their horses in search of better jobs.

In 1991 the National Park Service threatened to remove the horses which motivated local citizens to start the Wild Horse League. After about five years of legal battles and even a congressional hearing the horses gained federal protection in 1996, as long as the herd stays below 50 horses.

The Missouri Wild Horse League is responsible for adopting out some of the horses when the herd gets over 50.

There is a Missouri Wild Horse League Facebook page where people share their stories and photos. The site was helpful in connecting KMOX with the photographers who took the photos in the slideshow above.

Speaking with different League members this week, they’re enthusiastic to share the story of the wild horses.

They just ask two things: don’t get too close and let the wild horses stay wild.

4 replies »

  1. Just another piece of evidence that even domestic horses will find their way in the wild if released to it. Yes their may be some tough times, but it is the equine nature and physiological makeup that allows them to be able to make it in the wild. With this in mind, much more, those that have been rounded up and in holding, or those that were wild and have been adopted, are all able to make it in the wild if allowed to have their home again.This is the beauty of what they are. Wild, Free, Untouched, and Unmanaged and only in this manner, unmanaged and untouched can they fully be the exquisite keystone species that they are, as a vital component of balance on the rangelands


  2. The big story here is the public stepped up and took actions that continue to safeguard these lives today. Can we do this for those already under federal control somehow? Also wondering how they chose the number 50 for optimal population, I would bet the science has changed since then, but perhaps the acreage has also been reduced. This would be an excellent herd to document in situ with related ecological connections, impacts, improvements etc., if it hasn’t already been done.

    Missouri is facing a feral hog scourge, as are a majority of U.S. states now, which are a real invasive threat, growing at ~166% per year and costing $Billions in damages annually.

    Our BLM “actor” in charge should be looking at real threats to our public lands. It is far from true that wild horses and burros are the largest threat. The question has to be asked if our public lands are emptied of wild horses and burros (sterilization will pinch them out rather quickly), will the resulting vacuum then be exploited by millions of feral hogs? They are already found in eight western states which contain some of our last wild horses and burros, in addition to all southern states, ND and even the Upper Michigan peninsula. It seems quite clear they will move further north as winters shorten and temperatures rise.

    Most (not all) horses are terrified of hogs, but I wonder about burros, who are fierce guardians against numerous predators. Could our wild horses and burros perhaps help stem the surge of feral hogs onto public lands?


  3. This is so interesting! I had no idea of them being there! We must always ADVOCATE that they are allowed to live freely there in their own environment!


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