The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 directs BLM to manage and protect wild horses and burros on public lands. With no natural predators and a reproduction rate of more than 20%, wild horse and burro populations have increased dramatically since the Act went into effect. The current population of more than 37,000 animals exceeds the rangeland carrying capacity of 27,000 resulting in degraded habitat and conflicts with other uses, such as wildlife and grazing. The Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program is the primary tool that BLM uses to reduce populations and find homes for excess animals.
We administer the Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program throughout our 31 state jurisdiction, conducting approximately 25 adoption events and finding good homes for approximately 1000 animals each year. We ensure that the animals are cared for humanely through a diligent compliance program, averaging 900 inspections per year. Our permanent holding facility in Piney Woods, MS holds about 125 horses and burros and hosts a walk up adoption every 3 months.
The National Internet Adoption website was begun in 1998 by the Eastern States Wild Horse and Burro employees and we now conduct 8 on-line competitive bid adoptions each year. This gives adopters a chance to adopt special colors, trained horses, and animals from unique herds. Shipping options for pick up at eastern adoptions are offered at various locations for the highest bidders.
Our partnership with the Mustang Heritage Foundation allows us to offer trained horses to the public at several different Mustang Makeover locations, and provides adopters the chance to adopt trained horses through the Trainer Incentive Program (TIP). Mustang Makeovers pair wild horses with trainers who have 100 days to gentle and compete with their horses. At the end of each competition, prize money is awarded to the Top Ten, and the horses are adopted through an oral bid. The Trainer Incentive Program (TIP) allows trainers to take animals home for up to 90 days, gentle them, and find an adopter. These horses must be halter trained, lead, load, and pick up their feet. The adoption fee is only $125 for the TIP trained horses.
Over the past 40 years, Eastern States has adopted almost 80,000 animals, about one-third of all animals adopted since the program began. Mustangs and burros can be trained for riding, driving, packing, and make great companions. In 2010 a mustang and burro from Eastern States gave a driving demonstration at the FEI World Games at the Kentucky Horse Park. That same year, a mustang was Reserve Champion Stallion at the Devon Dressage Show in Pennsylvania. The BLM has many more great horses and burros available to qualified adopters.