New Incentive Leading to Significant Boost in Wild Horse Adoptions
As the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) continues to address the overpopulation of wild horses on public lands, a new incentive has been initiated this year to drive up the adoption rates at locations such as The Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Center (PVC) in Washoe County, Nevada.
Instituted in March of 2019, the BLM has been offering a $1,000 incentive to families adopting untrained horses.
According to Jason Lutterman, Public Affairs Specialist at BLM, over 6,500 horses have already been adopted this year West-wide. This year’s adoption numbers are already at a nearly 150% increase from last year’s numbers, the most in the program since 2005.
The Wild Horse and Burros Adoption Program began as a means to curb the overpopulation of wild horse and burro herds. When the animals are brought to designated facilities such as the PVC, they are given an identifiable freeze-mark, vaccinations, and prepared for domestic life
before being made available for adoption. However, adoptions are just one way the BLM is working to address the growing challenge of wild horse overpopulation in the West.
“Wild horse herds grow at a rate of 15-20% each year,” Lutterman said. “That means the overall population doubles every four years and triples every six years.”
The overpopulation of wild horses is in part the result of minimal threats to the wild horses and burros from predators, as well as the accessibility of natural resources on Nevada public lands. However, the fast-growing population leads to overgrazing and diminishes the availability of other natural resources like water.
“We want to keep herds at a level where the population can still be supported by the water sources on public lands while preventing starvation that can come from overgrazing,” Lutterman said.
Through the adoption program, both the horses and burros that remain on public lands and those that are taken into private homes are able to maintain a healthy and supportive environment in which to live.
As the largest BLM preparation and adoption facility for wild horses and burros in the country, Palomino Valley oversees intakes, trainings, and adoptions for the program. Most of the horses gathered from Nevada public lands and the surrounding states are brought to the Palomino Valley Center before being processed and shipped to other locations across the country for adoption.
The BLM looks forward to assessing their final wild horse and burro adoption statistics at the end of the fiscal year.