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What happens to horses & burros that don't get adopted?

In the case of BLM wild horses and burros, they are sent to live out their lives in Long-Term Holding facilities.
 
Most of these facilities are in Kansas and Oklahoma. Here is a picture from one in Oklahoma. Contrary to what you might have hear in the rumor mill or in targeted fundraising literature by certain groups, BLM does not send horses to slaughter. And although maintaining these animals for life does cost money, it is one of the least expensive givernement programs.

Other wild horses are not always so lucky. The luckiest Sheldon USFWS horses go to the Carr Ranch in Tennessee, where they are well-cared for and almost certain to find a good adoptive home. The luckiest Virginia Range horses go to one of the non-profits who work with these horses, such as LRTC and Lifesavers. The luckiest horses rounded up and sold by Indian Reservations will be bought by someone who cares about them.

But many, if not most, aren't so lucky, and they have absolutely no legal protection. Usually when you hear of Mustangs going to slaughter, it is the non-BLM wild horses, such as those from the Virginia Range, Places such as Sheldon Pronghorn Reserve - which are government-owned but not protected under the 1971 Wild Horse & Burro Protection Act, Indian Reservations, or even private lands.

Choose from:
BLM-Managed Wild Horse & Burro Herd Management Areas:
Arizona  California  Colorado  Idaho  Montana  Nevada  New Mexico  Oregon  Utah
BLM Holding & Adoption Centers
Long-Term Holding Facilities

Non-BLM Wild Horse Areas:
Atlantic Coast  Central USA 
State of Nevada Dept. of Agriculture (Reno-Area Comstock/Virginia Range "Estrays")
US Forest Service Wild Horse Territories  Sheldon USFWS 

Wild Horse Areas not included in this website: Indian Reservations, Private Lands

YouTube Video of Long-Term Holding Facility