The Bureau of Land Management’s California Wild Horse and Burro Program has many opportunities for the public to volunteer. We have more than 300 volunteers helping the Wild Horse and Burro Program throughout the state.
As the number of animals adopted in California continues to drop, the need for public volunteers is ever increasing. We need your help to promote how wonderful the wild mustangs are to adopt. However, we have needs besides promotion. Below you will find short descriptions of the variety of positions available in the Wild Horse and Burro Program.
Showcase adopted and trained animal(s) at adoption events. Interact with potential adopters regarding the positive attributes of the wild horse or burro. Introduce tools available to assist adopter with their newly adopted wild horse or burro. Assist adopters in selection of animal(s), if desired. Discuss with potential adopters about how they heard about an adoption and why people who attended the event did or did not adopt. Keep track of adopter’s or potential adopter’s responses to assist in increasing promotion efforts ensuring marketing tools used by the Public Affairs specialist are the best available and appropriate to the locale. A specific interim reporting form will be provided. The volunteer will give the interim reporting form to the Public Affairs Officer assigned to that specific adoption event. It is the responsibility of the Public Affairs Officer to forward information on to the Volunteer Coordinator.
Inspect trailers to ensure all BLM requirements are met. Assist adopters in quick improvements should their trailer not meet minimum requirements as explained by BLM wranglers and other BLM officials in charge.
Provide delivery service at adoption events, at no charge to the adopter, as well as ensuring the adopter’s facility meets BLM minimum requirements during drop-off. In the event facility requirements do not meet BLM’s minimum standards, the “adopted” animal(s) will not be off-loaded, but will be returned to the adoption site. It is expected that volunteers will explain to the potential adopters their facilities’ shortcomings. It is the responsibility of the adopter or potential adopter to work with BLM to meet the minimum adoption standards, should they still be interested in adopting. Volunteers will be reimbursed for mileage expenses when transporting adopted animals at the standard government rate and following government procedures.
Assist in policing potential adopters and/or their children to stay off adoption panels and/or out of wild horse and burro pens. Assist with policing during the competitive bidding process to ensure appropriate procedures are followed and pulling competitive bid sheets when time is called.
Assist with screening adopters and assisting with their paperwork. The final approval process and signature authority remains with BLM through internal delegations of authority.
At the request of BLM Officials, assist with working animals, i.e., sorting, haltering, etc., at adoption events and set-up and dismantle at adoption site.
Post flyers about upcoming wild horse and burro adoptions and events. Common businesses to post at are feed and tack stores, western-wear stores, grocery stores, boarding stables and any other equine-related business and/or where people frequent. (This is not an all-inclusive list.) Distribute adoption information to local Chambers of Commerce, enlist and engage the local community and garner support and buy-in for the wild horse and burro program and upcoming adoption events. Conduct field visits to local communities, schools, businesses, etc. prior to the event to promote individual adoption events. Showcase adopted and trained wild horse or burro to the media as well as at the adoption event. (Advanced training is required for presentations to the media.)
All promotional activities will be approved and coordinated through the Public Affairs Specialist assigned to the adoption. At no time, may volunteers act on their own without coordination with the assigned Public Affairs Specialist.
Coordinate with California State Lead and local Wild Horse and Burro Compliance Officer regarding compliance inspection assignments. Training is provided for conducting compliance checks. Contact adopter by telephone to inquire about the location and physical health of animals, identify how the adopter may obtain assistance with animal care or gentling, notify them of upcoming compliance inspection. Document the call and response in adopter’s file.
Conduct on-site compliance inspections to document physical condition of adopted animal(s) and ensure facility meets adoption standards and is consistent with information provided on the approved Application to Adopt Wild Horses and Burros.
Communicate with adopter any areas of non-compliance identified and explain steps necessary to correct problems. Also, notify adopter that a BLM Compliance Officer will contact them to establish a time-period for correcting deficiencies and arrange for a follow-up inspection. Provide compliance reports to the BLM Compliance Officer within mutually agreed timelines. All compliance inspections will be accomplished within the mutually agreed upon periods. Failure to conduct timely compliance inspections without the previous approval of the compliance officer will result in removal from conducting compliance inspections.
Provide halter training to increase a wild horse’s adoptability. Animal should be able to halter and lead easily within the timeframe allowed (60 days). Designated animals may be “special needs animals”, animals that were not adopted at an adoption event or those identified by BLM personnel. Host educational seminars prior to and/or after an adoption event.
Rehabilitate neglected or abused animals for reassignment to other adopters. Natural horsemanship skills utilizing the approach and retreat method is the only approved method for training.
Locate a permanent adopter that meets BLM’s requirements, or personally adopt the animal.
At no time may more than four untitled wild horses and/or burros be located at the property address listed on the holding facilities volunteer agreement without prior approval from a BLM Official. Animals may not be removed from the address identified without prior approval from BLM.
The BLM Official, i.e., adoption coordinator, compliance officer, etc., will ensure that all information regarding animals turned over to volunteers for additional work or enhancing adoptability are recorded in a timely manner to the internal BLM adoption database. It is the responsibility of BLM to ensure all animals are accounted for through BLM’s internal Wild Horse and Burro Information database.
Conduct tours to interested parties at BLM facilities. A thorough understanding of the wild horse and burro program and the facility is required, including all areas within the facility that are not open to the public. Tour groups may be large or small in nature or may be individuals interested in adopting.
Develop rapport with potential adopter and/or interested party. Assist adopter in their selection of animal(s) if desired. Interact with interested parties regarding the positive attributes of the wild horse or burro. Introduce tools (adopter’s assistants, veterinarians, farriers, etc.) to assist adopter with their newly adopted wild horse or burro. Provide delivery service at the request of BLM. Assist with screening adopters and completing paperwork at the request of BLM.
Adopter’s Assistants (Mentors)
Assist adopters with locating trainers, veterinarians, farriers etc. in the adopter’s locale. Assist adopters with answers to specific questions relating to temperament, training, and other advice the new adopter may be seeking. Assistance can be provided through electronic mail, by phone, or in person. (Note – volunteers will not be covered under the Federal Tort Claims Act when voluntarily going into an enclosed area with an ungentled, newly adopted wild horse or burro.)
Provide the new adopter with the opportunity to belong to the “BLM Wild Horse and Burro Family.” Provide new adopter with an avenue to vent frustrations to a private individual and provide positive feedback and suggestions for possible improvements, if needed.
On the Range
At the request and approval of the BLM Official, volunteers may assist with removal of abandoned range improvements, i.e. fencing, etc. Assist with construction and maintenance of range improvements. Assist with monitoring habitat and animals. Assist with collecting research data. Assist with bait trapping excess wild horses and burros.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for the Wild Horse and Burro Program, please contact the office nearest you from the following list: