Have room for a wild mustang? The government will pay you $1,000 to adopt one. 

While this sounds like every little kid’s ultimate dream it is not quite the idyllic situation one might think. The storybook picture of wild horses roaming the lands and living a carefree life is sadly not the reality for the wild horse population in America.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages the wild horse and burro population in the United States under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The population of wild horse and burros has reached close to 88,000, a record-breaking and continually growing number that is taking a heavy toll on the land – BLM estimates that only 27,000 wild horses can be sustained on the lands available in the country.

Starving and injured animals, overgrazed lands, and illegal adoption or slaughtering of the horses are all concerns BLM faces as a result.

Each year BLM rounds up thousands of these horses and burros as part of their management of the lands and to try and control the environmental impacts, an act that costs BLM about $50M in off-range holding each year (average of roughly $2,000 a year per horse). These funds come from taxpayer dollars, and as the population increases, it becomes harder and harder for the program to curb and control the growth.

wild horses

Courtesy of Pixabay.

And because of the high costs, the government needs your help. The adoption opportunity comes as an effort to get some of the animals into good homes and off the land.

“We understand that adopting a wild horse or burro represents a commitment. The incentive is designed to help with the adopter’s initial training and humane care,” BLM Deputy Director of Programs and Policy Brian Steed said in a statement. “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.”

Steed continued, “Finding good homes for excess animals and reducing overpopulation on the range are top priorities for the BLM as we strive to protect the health of these animals while balancing other legal uses of our public rangelands, including allowing for other traditional land uses such as wildlife conservation and grazing."

wild burro herd

Courtesy of Pixabay.

However, before you can adopt, there are a few non-negotiable requirements ...

  • Potential adopters need to fill out an online application and prove they can feed, board, and provide humane care to the animal. Applicants must not have any history of animal abuse and prove they will care for the animal and not sell it off after adoption. 
  • Once approved, qualified adopters will receive $500 within 60 days of the adoption date, and another $500 about a year later, after the animal is titled. The incentive applies to all untrained horses and burros up for adoption through the BLM. A minimum adoption of $25 must be paid by adoptees per animal.

Adoption events and sales are scheduled all over the country through December 2019. You can access the schedule, download the how-to guide for the program, and look at all the horses and burros up for adoption through the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Incentive Program website.

Would you ever adopt a wild horse or burro? While a challenge, it seems like a great opportunity for both horse lovers and the animals alike. Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.