WASHINGTON, D.C. — At this point, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is so desperate to get rid of the thousands of wild horses and burros that populate public lands, they're willing to pay you just to take them off their hands.
BLM announced the new adoption incentive plan on Tuesday, and it comes hot on the heels of a similar offer to pay private land owners to keep large numbers of the animals on their pastures.
“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,” said BLM Deputy Director of Programs and Policy Brian Steed. “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.”
According to the BLM, keeping the nearly 82,000 wild horses and burros on "fragile rangelands" and holding facilities costs taxpayers nearly $50 million every year. Between the current cost of upkeep and the rate at which the animals are breeding, BLM officials have concluded that it's cheaper to pay people to take care of them.
Under the new program, qualified adopters will receive a $500 payment within 60 days of the adoption date and another $500 within 60 days of titling for each animal, "which normally occurs one year from the adoption date." However, there is an adoption fee that costs a minimum of $25.
“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,” Steed said.
Potential adopters will have to complete an application proving they have the means to feed and care for the animals, and that they will adhered to the "prohibited acts and titling requirements." The incentives will be direct deposited to the adopter's bank account.
BLM officials were considering the monetary incentives as far back as April of 2018, if not earlier. Reports have indicated that the agency has considered selling some of the horses for slaughter, or sterilizing other by removing ovaries from mares, but all other methods either ran into legal trouble or fell prey to a public opinion backlash.