The federal government paid people $1,000 each to adopt and care for a wild horse, but many of these once protected mustangs are winding up at cattle auctions, in dusty feedlots and are being sold to “killbuyers” – all for the price of their meat.
According to the New York Times, the Bureau of Land Management, who have been in charge of the nation’s wild horses created a $1,000 incentive called the Adoption Incentive Program in 2019 to move the wild mustangs and burros out of government corrals and find them “good homes.” First-time adopters came out in droves, and the bureau told everyone this was a very successful program; that is until the grizzly truth came out about America’s iconic horses. Instead, thousands of horses were sold shortly after the “adopters” received their money from the government, were sold to slaughter.
“This is the government laundering horses,” said Brieanah Schwartz, a lawyer for the advocacy group American Wild Horse Campaign, which has tracked the program. “They call it adoptions, knowing the horses are going to slaughter. But this way the BLM won’t get its fingerprints on it.”
The Bureau of Land Management states all those adopting horses are required to sign affidavits that they will not sell the horses to slaughterhouses, but there has been no one enforcing the agreements nor has there been anyone tracking the horses once the people have adopted them. And there they go – these “adopters” take the mustangs to auctions and sell the horses to the middlemen – aka the killbuyers, who broker the horses to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada. It’s all a money making proposition off the flesh of America’s beautiful wild horses.
AWHC warned that this program would result in disaster for wild horses and burros by incentivizing people with nefarious intent or those lacking necessary skills and resources to adopt these animals. An investigation by AWHC, Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, Skydog Sanctuary, andEvanescent Mustang Rescue and Sanctuary documents that the program is sending hundreds of federally-protected wild horses and burros into the slaughter pipeline and subjecting them to severe neglect and abuse. To date, the program has cost American taxpayers over $4 million.
In 1971, Congress unanimously passed a law to protect wild horses and burros from being sent to slaughter and to ensure they had a place on public land in the West. Once a million wild horses roamed the open plains, but most disappeared in the early 20th when they were hunted down. By the time the law passed to protect them, there were less than 20,000 wild horses and burros left.
Statistics estimate there are now 100,000 wild horses in the West. Since the BLM has concentrated more on rounding up the horses and have ignored fertility control drugs delivered by darting and other management alternatives that don’t keep adding horses to the holding sites, the next decade could see 500,000 horses.
There are now more than 51,000 animals in holding.
There are however alternatives:
Return to Freedom believes that paying people to adopt devalues wild horses and burros. If the Bureau of Land Management adoption program is to continue, we believe that wild horses should not be adopted for less than $1,000 or — if BLM’s objective for the incentive program is genuinely to support adopters by assisting with training or “start-up” costs — BLM could create a program in which adopters pay $1,000 upfront for the wild horse or burro, then receive a $500 voucher to pay as a reimbursement for training once they have provided proof of progress or to help with vet costs.In our experience, if someone cannot afford $1,000 for a horse and initial care costs, they really are not in a position to financially support a horse. Sadly, even the most well-intentioned adopters can find themselves unable to sustain the horse.