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A photographer's fight to save wild horses in the American West

CBS News logo CBS News 7/28/2021 Chip Reid
a close up of a horse: Trump Bureau Of Land Management Budget Seeks To Cull U.S. Wild Horses © George Frey / Getty Images Trump Bureau Of Land Management Budget Seeks To Cull U.S. Wild Horses

For centuries, wild horses have roamed the American West, becoming an iconic symbol of the region. More recently, there has been an ongoing battle between western ranchers, who say the wild horses are detrimental to the land, and animal lovers hoping to save the horses from efforts to corral them into holding pens. 

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About five years ago, wild horses stole longtime wildlife photographer Mary Hone's heart. 

a man and a woman standing in front of a mirror: Wildlife photographer Mary Hone shows off her work.  / Credit: CBS News © Provided by CBS News Wildlife photographer Mary Hone shows off her work.  / Credit: CBS News

"The more time you spend with them, the more in love you get with them," she told CBS News. "I want people to know what it's like to see these horses and to experience these horses. I want them to have that connection with the horses that I feel." 


Video: A photographer's mission to save wild horses in the West (CBS News)

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Hone roams the West in her RV photographing the horses, selling her work at art shows and giving some of the proceeds to charities that protect them. 

"You just feel such a connection with them. Their souls are just so wonderful," she said of her passion. 

a brown horse standing next to a fence: A wild horse is held in a BLM holding/adoption facility after being rounded up from BLM land in the western United States on June 1, 2017 in Delta, Utah.  / Credit: George Frey / Getty Images © Provided by CBS News A wild horse is held in a BLM holding/adoption facility after being rounded up from BLM land in the western United States on June 1, 2017 in Delta, Utah.  / Credit: George Frey / Getty Images

But in a long-running dispute, ranchers say there are so many horses that they're ruining valuable federal grazing land. The federal government agrees and has resumed helicopter roundups that force the horses into holding pens, which Hone describes as "brutal." A small number are injured and have to be put down. 

"Their life is just heartbreaking," Hone said. 

Her hope is that her art will change some hearts. 

"They need our voices. They need us to fight for them," she said. "I will never stop fighting for them. Ever." 

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