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Border Patrol, Texas Parks and Wildlife Collaborate to Station Mustangs in Big Bend Ranch State Park

Release Date: 
July 26, 2010

Marfa, Texas - Chief Patrol Agent John J. Smietana, Jr., of the Border Patrol's Marfa Sector and Lieutenant Ken Watson of the Texas Parks and Wildlife's State Park Police met Monday to execute an agreement that would allow the Border Patrol to station horses in the Big Bend Ranch State Park. The horses will be housed in the park for use by agents of the Presidio Border Patrol Station.

Chief Patrol Agent John J. Smietana, Jr., (standing left) Marfa Sector Border Patrol and Lt. Ken Watson, State Park Police, Texas Parks and Wildlife (standing right). Border Patrol wranglers on the mustangs are, from left: Margaret Mondragon, Garrett Dunning, Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Juan Munoz and Ivan Bitar.

Chief Patrol Agent John J. Smietana, Jr., (standing left) Marfa Sector Border Patrol and Lt. Ken Watson, State Park Police, Texas Parks and Wildlife (standing right). Border Patrol wranglers on the mustangs are, from left: Margaret Mondragon, Garrett Dunning, Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Juan Munoz and Ivan Bitar.

The horses, all American mustangs, will be used primarily to patrol in the park's environmentally sensitive areas where motor vehicle use is discouraged or forbidden. Pre-positioning the horses in the park will allow agents to more efficiently patrol the area.

"We continue to look for innovative ways to accomplish our mission," said Smietana. "This agreement allows us to patrol in an area of the border that was difficult to get to. With the assistance of Texas Parks and Wildlife we'll be able to expand our protection of America and at the same time assist them in protecting the environment and preserving the park for public use and for future generations."

Big Bend Ranch State Park encompasses over 300,000 acres along the Rio Grande River between Presidio and Lajitas in the remote Big Bend area of Texas. The multi-use parks includes river frontage as well as primitive roads and back country camping.

The horses used in the park were furnished to the Border Patrol by the Bureau of Land Management and are a product of the agencies Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP). They are all about five years old and were captured from herds on public lands in the Western United States.

In 1986, Colorado Correctional Industries, in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), initiated a program in Canon City where mustangs are trained and offered for adoption to qualified applicants. The program is conducted within a state-of-the-art facility and employs a staff of professional horse trainers who provide horsemanship, animal husbandry and farrier skills. Since its inception, more than 5,000 mustangs have been trained through the WHIP.

Initially, there will be four horses at the Big Bend Ranch State Park facility.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017