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Prison Mustangs Will Help Patrol Borders

EUREKA, NV - JULY 8:  A group of wild horses is rounded up during a gathering July 8, 2005 in Eureka, Nevada. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management wants to reduce herds in the American west, where an estimated 37,000 of the horses roam free, to 28,000 by the end of 2005. The U.S. periodically removes thousands of horses and donkeys in an attempt to ensure western rangelands have adequate food and water for the animals to survive. Those animals are either adopted out or housed indefinitely on government sanctuaries. Currently 24,000 horses and donkeys are housed in government-run facilities. Recently passed legislation allows for the sale for slaughter of wild horses and donkeys older than ten years old and animals that have been unsuccessfully offered for adoption at least three times, eliminating restrictions that had been in place since 1971 which prevented wild horses from being sold commercially.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

EUREKA, NV - JULY 8: A group of wild horses is rounded up during a gathering July 8, 2005 in Eureka, Nevada. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management wants to reduce herds in the American west, where an estimated 37,000 of the horses roam free, to 28,000 by the end of 2005. The U.S. periodically removes thousands of horses and donkeys in an attempt to ensure western rangelands have adequate food and water for the animals to survive. Those animals are either adopted out or housed indefinitely on government sanctuaries. Currently 24,000 horses and donkeys are housed in government-run facilities. Recently passed legislation allows for the sale for slaughter of wild horses and donkeys older than ten years old and animals that have been unsuccessfully offered for adoption at least three times, eliminating restrictions that had been in place since 1971 which prevented wild horses from being sold commercially. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)  (2005 Getty Images)

It's a wild west solution to a modern day need. 

About six wild horses from Nevada are headed to the Mexican and Canadian borders to help U.S. Border Patrol agents keep a watch on remote areas.

For the first time, border patrol agents last week acquired mustangs that were trained by state prison inmates in Carson City, KOLO-TV of Reno and the Nevada Appeal of Carson City reported.

Felix Morales, an operations officer with the border patrol, said wild horses are particularly suited for the task because they're hardy animals that will work in landscapes similar to Nevada's.

"After about two days of evaluating, riding, we look for temperament and looking at the animals themselves to see how much weight they could put on in the future," Morales told KOLO.

The agency began buying mustangs in 2007 so agents could ride them while guarding roadless areas along the border. The agency currently has 123 wild horses.

Morales said he was impressed with the caliber of mustangs at the Carson City facility, and the agency will return in the future.

"We found the program to be exceptional," he told the Appeal. "We will be coming back to adopt more horses."

Horses rounded up by the federal Bureau of Land Management are brought to a holding pen for the inmates to train. The mustangs also are available to the public at auctions.

"They're showing the American public how good these horses can be, and these horses are being of service to the American public," said Alan Shepherd, head of the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program in Nevada.

This article was based on the Associated Press. 

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