In another attempt to curb wild horse populations, The Bureau of Land Management is now offering up to $1,000 to people who adopt a wild horse or burro.
The goal of this new incentive is to give more wild horses a chance at a good home. As of now, their prospects are not good, and adoption rates are down.
Thousands of previously wild horses are currently sitting in holding pens, eating cheap grain with no one to love them, nowhere to stretch their legs.
The adoption incentive includes a $500 check within 60 days of adopting an untrained wild horse or burro. You are eligible to receive another $500 after titling the animal. There is still a $25 adoption fee in place.
The $1,000 is intended to help those adopting an untrained wild horse pay for initial care and training.
Interested equestrians can adopt and maintain as many as four wild horses or burros each year.
The Idaho Statesman reports there are around 82,000 wild horses and burros living free in the West. The land can support about a 1/3 of that number.
As a lifelong horse lover and owner, I can’t say I agree with the government’s handling of our wild horse population and most horse advocates and environmentalists agree.
The debate is longstanding and ugly – the government says they must round up the horses to prevent them from overgrazing, decimating dwindling plants and soils, and ultimately starving to death.
On the other hand, horse advocates and environmentalists argue that farm cows are grazing on this same land and that this is more about protecting livestock used to make money and fuel our economy.
“It’s the ranchers versus the wild horse. The horses eat the same food as the cows,” said Deniz Bolbol with American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.
Federal officials argue back, claiming that ranchers in the area have voluntarily reduced grazing by around 70 percent.
No matter what, in the end, it’s the wild horses that lose. Before long we won’t have any left.
Even if wild horse populations need to be cut back, the problem is the government’s handling of the situation, which is abusive and problematic at many levels.
Perfectly healthy and fat wild horses have been found shot to death. Wild horses are rounded up and separated from their herds – nursing foals split from their mothers.
Authorities use helicopters to terrify them and force them into tiny enclosures where they’ll spend years, perhaps the remainder of their lives, trapped.
These holding pens are currently at capacity, hence why the government is resorting to paying people to adopt the horses.
Each horse costs the BLM around $2,000 per year to care for and feed, yet another reason they are desperate to adopt as many of them out as possible.
The Idaho Statesmen reports that 11,472 wild horses and burros were plucked from the wild last year, and only 4,609 of them were adopted or sold.
To make matters worse, in the past, adopters have been found selling truckloads of horses to slaughterhouses in Mexico.
This is all in striking contrast to the mission of the BLM and the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, in which our government is tasked with protecting and managing America’s wild horses.
Congress has called these incredible animals “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirt of the West.”
There has to be a better way to handle the problem and protect America’s wild horses. Perhaps the government is on to something with their latest $1,000 incentive to adopt, only time will tell.
By adopting a wild horse, you are truly acting to save their life and rescue them from a potentially terrible fate. Plus, where else can you adopt a horse and get $1,000 to help cover costs?
“I encourage anyone who has considered adopting a wild horse or burro to join the thousands of owners who have provided good homes to more than 245,000 wild horses or burros since 1971,” BLM Deputy Director of Programs and Policy Brian Steed told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Many people have gone on to have great success with their adopted wild horse. One Idaho teenager who adopted a horse she named Kilchii said:
“We’ve bonded so quickly and have become best friends. After the first week, every time I came to work with him, he would always come to the gate and wait to greet me.”
Perhaps one of the most inspirational people making a difference in all of this is Clare Staples, who founded Skydog Sanctuary. Clare is considered a leading expert on mustangs and wild horse issues. She is on a mission to take in as many wild horses as possible, not to train or domestic them, but to let them live out free on the land as nature intended.
If you’d like to learn more about adopting a horse, visit the BLM website.