The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is hoping cash incentives will boost adoptions of wild horses and burros that would otherwise spend their lives in long-term holding facilities.
Under a pilot program slated to debut at an adoption event in Kellyville, Okla., next month, the agency will pay $500 to qualified individuals who adopt BLM mustangs or burros that are four years old or older.
Payments are intended to offset animal maintenance costs for one year.
But adoptive owners will not receive stipends up front–BLM policy requires the agency to retain the title to adopted animals for one year. Agency inspectors currently visit adoptive homes to ensure the animals are receiving proper care, and animals adopted under the incentive program will be subject to mandatory inspections.
“We want to make sure adopters don’t use the program for profit,” said BLM spokesman Paul McGuire. “The BLM will turn over the $500 when it transfers the title at the end of the year.”
But Habitat for Horses President Jerry Finch, who recently helped remove 211 allegedly neglected animals from a Nebraska training ranch for BLM mustangs and burros (read more), opposes the incentive plan.
“It’s putting horses in the hands of people who do not understand mustangs at all,” said Finch.
The BLM will offer the adoption incentives at adoption events in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas for one year. If the program proves effective, the agency will expand it to adoption events nationwide.