Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year

by Return to Freedom Inc. , (DBA) American Wild Horse Sanctuary
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Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year

Project Report | Apr 30, 2024
Always Expect the Unexpected!

By RTF Team | Project Leader

Newly arrived Alpine Moms and foals.
Newly arrived Alpine Moms and foals.

Dear Friends of  RTF and its Wild Residents, 

As always, we've been very busy here at RTF since last we wrote. There are things that we do every day to care for the nearly 450 wild horses and burros already in residence here, and then there are the unexpected things that happen when your mission is to save lives.

The unexpected—

The Alpine rescue

As you may know, an important and deeply-felt mission at Return to Freedom is to reunite as many rescued wild horses as possible with their family band members, from whom they've been tragically torn during family-shattering roundups.

This crucial task of reuniting horse families came into play again last December, when we learned that there were dozens of horses from Arizona's Alpine Herd at a Bowie, Texas, auction, where many likely would have been shipped to brutal slaughter.

Working with a Texas rescue organization, we committed to giving the stallions and their band-mares sanctuary. The local advocate would care for and ready the horses for shipping to California after our muddy season passed and new pasture fencing was built for these dozens of new horses, including pregnant mares.

We are excited that they have arrived at  RTF!

As always, now that the rescue is over, the costly long-term work begins of not only the horses' care, but also the ongoing costs of feed, vet care and all they will need to live out safe, happy and healthy lives.

We were not expecting to take on this added expense—as you know, we already feed hundreds of hungry mouths! But our supporters, like you, give us the confidence to take a leap of faith when we are needed the most.

Welcome to our new residents, The Alpine Herd!


SLO Regenerative Grazing/Holistic Management Project-

Return to Freedom continues to work with Rangeland Management students from California Polytechnic State University of San Luis Obispo to monitor and maintain our San Luis Obispo satellite sanctuary location. This is a great opportunity for students to practice their Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping, holistic management, and collaborative skills. Over the past few months students have created a dynamic map of the sanctuary, set up erosion-monitoring sites, and helped spread seed in heavily-trafficked areas. This will also help to maximize grazing and minimize the need to supplement with hay, saving donor money whenever possible.


Humanitarian award

The RTF Team congratulates Neda DeMayo, the founder and president of Return to Freedom, who recently received the 2023 EQUUS Foundation Humanitarian Award, which celebrates the humanitarian achievements made by a member of the equestrian world.

Aware since childhood of the injustices heaped on mustangs, Neda became directly involved in the wild horse issue in 1994, forming RTF in 1997. A year later, she founded its American Wild Horse Sanctuary in Lompoc, CA, with a focus on relocating bonded horses in their naturally selected family and social bands and reuniting horses who have been separated as a result of their capture in government roundups. RTF’s focus is to meet the immediate needs of rescue and sanctuary for wild horses and burros displaced by government roundups as it works on solutions to preserve them in viable free-ranging herds on our public lands for future generations. The sanctuary is a model of minimally intrusive management that can be applied on and off the range as an alternative to the costly and traumatic capture and warehousing of fractured wild horse and burro herds.

As well as currently providing a safe haven to more than 424 wild horses and burros at three California locations. Neda and RTF have played an active role in the rescue and rehoming of well over 2,000 horses who might have otherwise gone to slaughter, and we salute her for this dedication and recognition—an honor well-deserved.



The Bureau of Land Management’s annual population estimate for wild horses and burros on BLM-managed public lands shows a decrease for the third time in four years, from 82,883 in 2023 to 73,520 as of March 1, 2024.

This isn’t any sort of win for the Bureau of Land Management and definitely not for America’s wild horses and burros. BLM’s own history and population modeling shows that remaining fixated only on "capture-and-removal" management will not succeed.

To create meaningful, sustainable change, the agency must implement fertility control to stabilize herd growth so that removals, which decimate family bands and herds, can be ended, and off-range holding, which costs millions more each year and is increasingly less available, can be phased out.

The BLM’s goal is to reach an “Appropriate Management Level” (AML) of no more than 26,785 total wild horses and burros across 177 Herd Management Areas in 10 Western states.

—Over the past five years, the BLM has removed 57,997 wild horses and burros from their home ranges while treating just 4,936 with some form of fertility control.

—More than 64,000 wild horses and burros live not on the range but warehoused in government facilities, including more than 23,000 in often overcrowded “short-term” corrals.

—Last year, the agency spent $108.5 million (69% of its wild horse program budget) on off-range holding — more than double what it spent on holding only two years earlier.

—The BLM plans to remove 20,510 wild horses and burros this fiscal year — the second most ever — while treating only 1,440 with fertility control.

In recent years, Congress has provided additional funding for fertility control to slow herd growth, and its use now enjoys both strong public and broad stakeholder support. Yet, the BLM maintains it will use fertility control only after it reaches the low, arbitrary AML it has set for itself. RTF continues to lobby for Congress to demand that the BLM immediately begin the long-overdue transition to fertility control as its primary management tool.

RTF also remains vigilant following the March release of a BLM budget document requesting $15 million that could be used to again pursue the invasive surgical sterilization of wild mares.  When the BLM has pursued surgical sterilization of mares before, it has been halted by litigation and public opposition.

Most recently, in 2021, the agency abandoned a plan to use a procedure called ovariectomy via colpotomy on captured mares after RTF and others sued. This is an invasive surgical procedure requiring post-surgical pain management and rest, standards of care difficult to achieve for a wild mare. It includes risks of infection, bleeding and death.


As you see, the mission to protect wild equines and insure their survival on public lands into the future is one of never-flinching vigilance and we will never take our eyes off that goal. It's only with the help of caring people like you that we can maintain this strength in our defense of the Wild Ones—

To the Wild Ones, and those who stand with them,

Team RTF

Alpines exploring their new home with RTF
Alpines exploring their new home with RTF
Moms and foals safe at last.
Moms and foals safe at last.
SLO students greeting burros after throwing seed
SLO students greeting burros after throwing seed
Students mapping fence lines
Students mapping fence lines
Donors like you provided this tasty meal!
Donors like you provided this tasty meal!


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Project Leader:
Jack Carone
Lompoc , CA United States
$377,841 raised of $1,000,000 goal
7,343 donations
$622,159 to go
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