BLM’s New Adoption Incentive Program Pays Out $1000 Per Adopted Horse or Burro

In an effort to increase more adoptions of wild horses and burros, the Bureau of Land Management introduced an incentive program earlier this year. Get the details here.


If you’ve been thinking about adopting and gentling your first mustang, there may be no better time than the present: the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced earlier this winter that its new Adoption Incentive Program (AIP) would be paying out up to $1,000 to adopters of wild horses or burros through its adoption programs.

The incentive is intended to help reduce the numbers of horses in off-range holding corrals, which cost about $50 million in taxpayer dollars annually to maintain. The AIP is designed to help defray the costs of adopting a mustang, including veterinary care, property updates or maintenance, and even training. Ever wanted a mustang but had no idea where to begin? Put that incentive money towards professional training!

It’s not quite as simple as “take a mustang, get a thousand bucks,” of course — which is a good thing, as it gives the horses some manner of protection from unscrupulous dealers or contract buyers. Here are some of the details:

  • $500 is paid out within 60 days of adoption
  • The other $500 is paid out within 60 days of titling: mustang adopters receive their title to their horse after one year
  • AIP only applies to adopted animals — not those who have gone through a BLM or Mustang Heritage Foundation training program, and not those who were purchased through direct sale from the BLM
  • Up to four adopted mustangs can be eligible for the AIP annually per adopter

Adopters are still required to pay their $25 adoption fee and follow all other guidelines and rules regarding the adoption of wild horses or burros from the BLM.

While close to 250,000 wild horses and burros have been adopted through the BLM’s programs since the government agency was first charged with protecting herds in 1971, the demand for mustangs has not kept up with the supply as horses continue to reproduce on the range at a rate faster than they are adopted out. The BLM has set Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs) on Herd Management Areas based on all of the land’s intended uses, from supporting a healthy and diverse population of wildlife to leasing land for livestock grazing, plus logging and mining. The estimated population of 81,950 wild horses far exceeds the BLM’s set AML.

The subject of wild horse management always sparks heated debates, with advocates on all sides of the issue often failing to agree on any point: should wild horses numbers be managed through different means, such as fertility control, or should wild horses be free to live without any human intervention at all? Should horses be removed from the range when the range indicates it can no longer support them? Why should livestock grazing have rights to the land in addition to the wild horses? What about other large herbivores who depend on the land?

There are no easy solutions to any of these questions, but the Adoption Incentive Program at least promises to try a new tactic to attempt to get more wild horses adopted into good homes.

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