PRINEVILLE, OR -- Visitors to the Lookout Ranger District near Prineville are asked to stop feeding the wild horses. Patrick Lair, with the Ochoco National Forest, says people are interacting more with the animals, "What we suspect is that with this last round of snowfall that we had, folks were worried about them having food, and it's a completely reasonable thing for people to want to do because they don't want the horses to suffer. But, part of being wild, and living in the wild, is that you survive in the wild."
Lair tells KBND News, "Someone's been putting hay out along Forest Road 22, which is a pretty busy road; and a number of horses have been congregating right along the road and feeding (pictured above). So, that's problematic." One concern is that horses could dart in front of cars, causing accidents. But, Lair says, the other issue is that it teaches wild horses to become dependent on humans, "It changes their nature, and could make it more difficult for them to survive in the wild when they've become acclimated to humans." He encourages visitors to look at the horses and take pictures, but asks that people maintain a healthy distance from the animals.
The horses are part of the congressionally designated Big Summit Wild Horse Territory, comprised of nearly 25,000 acres in the Lookout Mountain area. "We know that a lot of people really like those horses, and that's great," says Lair, "But sometimes your good intentions, feeding and befriending the horses, can have some bad consequences for those horses."