Wild horses live in eleven states in the U.S.: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. They are also found on several islands in North America including Sable Island by Nova Scotia, Assateague Island by Maryland, Shakleford Island by North Carolina and Cumberlands Islands by Georgia.
Return to Freedom explains that wild horses were introduced to North America in 1519 by the Spaniards. These horses are known as mustangs, which means "ownerless," and include other breeds of horses that bred with the original Spanish horse stock. During the 1800s, there were as many as two million wild horses in North America. However, they were slaughtered in large numbers for food which prompted the creation of the Wild Horse Annie Act in 1959. This act prevents people from hunting them from motorized vehicles. Another act was implemented in 1971 called the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act which actively protected mustangs from all types of hunting. Along with the act came several million acres of land for the horses to live. Most wild horses live on Bureau of Land Management land that extends over 34 million acres. The biggest threat to horses is that they must compete with domesticated animals for grazing rights. As of 2007, there are an estimated 28,500 wild horses left, a dramatic decrease from years prior.