ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Tens of thousands of horses are roaming the state, and there's nowhere to put them.
Now several organizations are coming together to try and find solutions before the problem gets even worse.
There are no hard numbers as to how many horses are wild, abandoned or feral in New Mexico, but some estimates are as high as 90,000 on the Navajo reservation alone.
And the problem is hard on both the land and the horses.
Wild horses are no doubt beautiful to watch, but the harsh reality is there are just too many horses in New Mexico.
"It's dire; it's critical," said Charles Graham, who heads up Walkin' N Circles Horse Rescue. His shelter can't take one more horse and is 40 over capacity.
Graham is one of the many people involved in a new task force formed by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture to deal with New Mexico's horse overpopulation problem.
"We've had estimates of tens of thousand of horses that have been released across the state either on Forest Service, BLM land or tribal land," state Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte said. "And as that number of horses gets out there, it has a tremendous impact on the natural resources."
"We are starting from scratch here," added Lisa Jennings of Animal Protection of New Mexico. "We have never really addressed the homeless horse problem.
"This is not a new problem, it's been here for decades and probably generations, and for the first time ever New Mexicans are saying we value horses."
The state says some of the horses on New Mexico lands are truly wild, but there are also abandoned and feral horses. Animal protection of New Mexico established an equine protection fund two years ago, and it has helped 200 horses with hay, gelding and rehoming.
But even animal advocates say the solutions will include hard choices like euthanasia.
"If you look at the age span of a horse, within five years we could have 600,000 unwanted horses in the country," Graham said.
It turns out that wild horses are not the only problem. NMDA says the cost of hay and downturn in the economy have caused an increase in horse neglect cases for urban and suburban horse owners.
The BLM reports horse populations are largely left alone by natural predators, and their populations can grow as much as 25 percent per year.
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