With 22,000 animals in its care, BLM puts $4.7M toward wild horse and burro training, adoption programs | CraigDailyPress.com

With 22,000 animals in its care, BLM puts $4.7M toward wild horse and burro training, adoption programs

One of the wild horses in the Sand Wash Basin pauses while grazing on Saturday evening, May 28, 2022.
Eli Pace/Craig Press

The Bureau of Land Management has awarded two grants worth more than $4.7 million combined to accelerate the training and placement of excess wild horses and burros into private care.

These grants are part of the BLM’s efforts to increase adoptions of wild horses and burros, protect wild herds and their habitat on public lands, and save taxpayers money, according to the agency. The grants were awarded to the Texas-based Mustang Heritage Foundation and Mustang Champions.

The BLM says the grants could help place approximately 3,600 wild horses and burros into private care over the next year, saving taxpayers approximately $99 million over the lifetime of the animals. It costs the BLM about $27,500, on average, to provide lifetime care for a wild horse not placed into private care. 

“Training and finding good homes for wild horses and burros is an integral part of keeping our wild herds and public lands strong and healthy, and it helps cut costs and save taxpayers money,” BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the Mustang Heritage Foundation and Mustang Champions on fresh and innovative approaches to finding more good homes for these cherished animals.”

The BLM awarded approximately $4 million to the Mustang Heritage Foundation to support and expand a network of private trainers and storefronts for wild horses and burros, build and develop a mounted program, launch a new follow-up program to assist adopters and conduct post-adoption check-ins, and create training resources for current and future trainers, among other activities.

The BLM has partnered with the Mustang Heritage Foundation since 2007, during which time the organization has helped place more than 20,000 wild horses and burros into private care.

The BLM also awarded nearly $750,000 to Mustang Champions to develop a wild horse-specific humane training curriculum, host English and Western discipline competition events and placement programs, and conduct educational outreach. The programs are designed to grow adoptions and sales through increased competitive participation and to raise awareness of the status of America’s wild horses and burros and the management of their rangeland. 

“We are so honored to have this opportunity to partner with the Wild Horse & Burro Program,” said Matt Manroe, Mustang Champions executive director. “We created Mustang Champions to design and produce events and an educational program to engage and persuade the American public to get more involved and potentially adopt an American mustang transitioned out of holding. The Mustang Champions team is very experienced and very talented. We know that we can make an impact on the future of mustangs in holding. We encourage everyone to come and join us in our efforts.”

The BLM offers wild horses and burros for adoption in support of its efforts to manage free-roaming herds on public lands as required by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

Most herds on public lands are in arid environments and lack natural predators that can control herd growth, according to the BLM. As a result, the agency says herds can grow quickly and overwhelm the food and water available to them, which can damage the land and lead to starvation and thirst for the animals.

To protect wild horses and burros from overpopulation, the BLM periodically gathers excess animals and makes them available for adoption or sale to qualified owners. The agency captured hundreds of horses from the Sand Wash Basin in Moffat County in 2021.

Historically, adoptions and sales have not matched population growth and removal rates on public lands. As of February, the BLM is caring for more than 22,000 wild horses and burros in its off-range corrals awaiting adoption, and an additional 40,000 unadopted animals are being provided long-term care on private pastures. Last year, it cost the BLM nearly $83.5 million to care for unadopted and unsold animals, according to the agency.

With grants and efforts like the Adoption Incentive Program and the Online Corral, the BLM boasts doubling the rate of private care placement over the last five years compared to the previous five years. Since 1971, the BLM has placed a total of nearly 290,000 animals into private care.

The grants were awarded after a thorough review of off-range proposals received through a 2022 funding opportunity. Both agreements cover a period of one year, with an option to extend for four additional years contingent on congressional appropriations.

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