To maintain herd health and prevent overgrazing, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) periodically rounds up some of the wild horses roaming public lands. Many of these mustangs--5,000 to 10,000 annually--are then offered to the public for adoption.
Horses can be adopted at BLM facilities located in several states and through monthly auctions, which are held at various locations across the country and on the Internet.
Those interested in adopting a wild horse must submit an application to the BLM. To be accepted, an applicant must:
- be at least 18 years old
- demonstrate that he or she can provide adequate feed, water and facilities
- have no prior convictions for inhumane treatment of animals or for violating the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
The minimum adoption fee is $125 per horse, but at auction the average winning bid per horse is $185. One year after the adoption, the title of ownership is transferred if the horse is found to be in good condition by a BLM-designated veterinarian, county extension agent or humane official.
For more information, go to www.blm.gov/adoptahorse/. Call 1-866-4MUSTANGS for general information or 1-800-370-3936 to learn about the Internet adoption program.
Other organizations and agencies that offer feral horses for adoption include:
- The Nevada Department of Agriculture finds homes for stray horses, feral horses that do not fall under BLM management but have not been claimed by private owners. For information, call 775-721-3470.
- Least Resistance Training Concepts (LRTC) is a legal volunteer service organization. For more information, go to www.whmentors.org or call 775-246-7636.
- Lifesavers, Inc. Wild Horse Rescue Ranch is a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting wild horses from abuse or slaughter. For more information go to www.wildhorserescue.org or call 661-727-0049.
This article originally appeared in the October 2003 issue of EQUUS magazine.