National Geographic : 1971 Jan
Spindly baby slows its mother's escape TOO TIRED TO RUN, a newborn foal totters at the heels of a mare in the Pryor Moun tains. Unwilling to desert her offspring, the mother pushes the youngster into partial concealment (below). Fleet-footed retreat is the wild horses' only defense against man-and it has proved futile. Despite public outcry, their decima tion continues at the hands of pet-food can ners, stockmen seeking more grazing land, and hunters who believe the animals deprive game of forage. Paleontologists believe that North Amer ica was the ancestral home of the genus Equus. Early forms of the animal probably reached Asia across the land bridge then spanning the Bering Strait. Meanwhile, most scientists hold, American forms of the genus became extinct some 8,000 years ago. Today's horse came to the New World with the Spaniards. Animals that escaped from them, or from Indians who had bought or stolen them, multiplied to roam free on the Great Plains in increasing numbers.