WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last month, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was so desperate to find a solution to blooming wild horse populations in the American West that they considered paying citizens to adopt the animals. While they have not gone that far, BLM announced a step in that direction on Friday.
A new campaign from BLM will feature a website called the Wild Horse and Burro 'Online Corral' and a busy schedule of almost 70 events across the nation—all geared to acquaint the public with the animals and encourage adoption or purchase.
“Wild horses and burros make great companions that are superb at performing a wide variety of tasks,” said Brian Steed, BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Planning. “I urge everyone to attend a wild horse and burro event or visit the new Online Corral to learn how to bring one home.”
The Online Corral is not exactly new, according to BLM, but it will replace a 10-year-old system with a 'modern, streamlined interface.' It includes filtering features and an interactive map, as well as the ability to submit and track the status of adoption applications through the site.
However, BLM will not be paying the public for those adoptions—in fact, it's more likely to cost you. Most of the horses and burros on their site cost upwards of $100. There are also competitive bidding events (currently running between May 15-22) with starting bids at $125.
"Known for their intelligence, endurance and loyalty, wild horses, with the right training, are outstanding for ranching and trail riding and have successfully competed for awards in numerous fields from endurance riding to dressage. Wild horses and burros have routinely been adopted for important tasks such as patrolling the border and local policing," said a BLM statement.
BLM estimates that there were around 82,000 wild horses and burros on public rangelands or in taxpayer-funded corrals as of March 1 of this year. They say that this is 'more than triple' the number that public lands can support when other legally mandated uses of those lands are taken into account.
“Finding good homes for horses and burros is a top priority for the BLM as we strive to protect the health of these animals," said Steed.