Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Many wild horse (Equus ferus caballus) populations that inhabit designated federal land in the United States currently exceed management objectives. Overabundant wild horse populations can adversely impact the ecosystem, native wildlife, and other land uses. Unfortunately, there is not a universal solution, as each impacted area may differ ecologically, economically, socially, and politically. Wild horse management is not just a 1-time project but a long-term program where buy-in is needed from the federal and state agencies, local governments, and private partners. Local county governments and private partners can have important insights and significant influence on the development and success of local wild horse management strategies. The combined involvement of local government and stakeholders can have a wide range of benefits including increasing capacity for management, developing new management and placement techniques, and creating authentic program branding and outreach for better placement success. Partners can often complete projects in tighter time frames, find employees, and experience less government red tape in implementation. Buy-in from the local community can also decrease the amount of negative feedback during management implementation and create a support network to counteract the negative aspects of management. Located in the northeast corner of the state of California, USA, Modoc County recognized early on the need for local government participation in conversations and decisions surrounding wild horses and their management on the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory (WHT). The county implemented a coordinated planning and government-to-government communication process starting in 2011 to engage the Modoc National Forest, which manages the WHT, in meaningful solution-based dialogue. This paper offers examples of unique collaborative opportunities and solutions that have been successfully used in Modoc County to develop and implement a wild horse management plan. In the years since it was adopted, this plan has halted population growth and started to return the population to the appropriate management level on the Devil’s Garden Plateau.