Frequently Asked Questions

What is a wild burro?
A wild burro is a free-roaming, unclaimed, unbranded burro found on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or U.S. Forest Service (USFS) administered rangelands. The majority of wild burros live in the arid deserts of the Southwest. Wild burros are descendants of pack animals that wandered off or were released by prospectors and miners.

Why does BLM offer wild horses and burros for adoption?
The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 gave the Department of the Interior’s BLM and the Department of Agriculture’s USFS the authority to manage, protect and control wild burros on the nation’s public rangelands in a way that ensures healthy herds and healthy rangelands.

Federal protection, and a lack of natural predators, resulted in thriving populations of wild burros that grow in number each year. The BLM monitors rangelands and wild burro populations to determine the number of animals, including livestock and wildlife, which the land can support. Each year, the BLM gathers excess wild burros from area where vegetation and water could be negatively impacted by over use.

These excess animals are offered for adoption to qualified people through the BLM’s Adopt a Horse or Burro Program. Since 1973, the BLM has used this popular program to place more than 25,000 wild burros into private care.

Why adopt a wild burro?
Providing a home for a wild burro can be both challenging and rewarding. Adopting a wild burro is a unique opportunity to care for and train a living symbol of our country’s history.

With kindness and patience, a wild burro can be trained for many uses. Due to their gentle nature, wild burros can be used as companion animals for high spirited domestic horses. In addition, wild burros are social, yet very protective animals. As a result of this trait, they are very effective in predator control and are often used as guard animals to protect sheep and goats. Wild burros are known for their sure-footedness, strength and endurance and are used as sturdy pack animals for backpackers and hunters. People also use wild burros as riding animals. People use burros to pull carts or small wagons, too. The greatest advantage to adopting a wild burros is that they make excellent family pets.

What are wild burros like?
Every wild burro is different. Like people, they each have their own personalities. The common thought that burros are stubborn is a myth. Actually, they are just very cautious. When placed into an unfamiliar situation, a burros will stand its ground and ponder its predicament. Pulling or pushing on the animal does little to help them make up their minds.

Program Information

Burro Information

You might be surprised to learn that burros come in many different colors including, red, red roan, pink and blue. By far, the most common color is grey with a white muzzle and white underbelly. Wild burros average 44 inches tall and weight about 500 pounds at maturity. Burros recently removed from public rangelands are not used to people. As an adopter, your challenge is to develop a trusting relationship with your wild burro.

What are the requirements for adopting a wild horse or burro?
To adopt a wild horse or burro, you are required to have adequate facilities and the financial means to care for the animal. You must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • Have no convictions for inhumane treatment of animals;
  • Make a home for the adopted animal in the United States until you receive title from the BLM

Note: Parents or guardians may adopt a wild burros and allow younger family members to care for the animal.

What facilities does the BLM require and adopter to have to care for a wild horse or burro?
If exercised daily, the BLM requires a minimum space of 144 square feet (12’ x 12’) for each animal. If not exercised daily, the BLM requires a minimum of 400 square feet (20’ x 20’) for each animal.

Fences must e at least four feet high four ungentled burros. Fences should be of pole, pipe or plank construction and must not have dangerous protrusions. Barbed wired is not allowed in stalls or corrals.

The BLM considers an animal gentled when it can be approached, handled, haltered and led without attempting escape. You should not release a burro into a large open area, such as a pasture. These are wild animals that will retreat to the most distant part of the pasture, minimizing the opportunity to gain the trust of the animal and gentle it. Remaining ungentled, it will be very difficult to provide adequate veterinary care.

You must provide shelter from inclement weather and temperature extremes for your adopted wild burro. Shelters must be well-drained and adequately ventilated. Shelter requirements will vary in different regions of the country.

How do I adopt a wild horse or burro?
Once you meet the BLM requirements to adopt a wild burro, you should complete the “Application for Adoption of Wild Horses or Burros” and mail it to the BLM office serving your area. When you adopt, the BLM requires you to sign a “Private Maintenance and Care Agreement.” This official document includes the following statement:

“Under penalty of prosecution for violating 18 U.S. C. 1001, which makes it a federal crime to make false statements to any agency of the United States, I hereby state that I have no intent to sell this wild horse or burro for slaughter or bucking stock, or for processing into commercial products, within the meaning of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, 16 U.S. C. 1331 et seq., and regulations 43 CFR 4700.0-5(c).”

How many wild burros can I adopt?
You may adopt up to four wild horses or burros within a 12-month period. If approved by the BLM, you may adopt more than four in a 12-month period, however you can only receive title to four adopted animals within a 12-month period.

How much does it cost to adopt a wild burro?
Normally, the minimum adoption fee for each wild burro is $125. Jennies adopted with their unweaned foal are $250. Adoptions may be held using a competitive bidding process, lottery draw or on a first-come, first-served basis.

Adoption fees are non-refundable. However, if a veterinarian determines that a pre-existing serious medical condition occurred at the time you adopted your animal, the BLM will provide you with another animal.

How much does it cost to care for a wild burro?
Adopters are responsible for all costs associated with the care of their animal. The cost of caring for a wild horse or burro is comparable to caring for a domestic horse or burro. Depending on local costs and conditions, the cost of caring for a horse or burro can exceed $1,000 per year. If you are adopting a mare, there is a very good chance that she is pregnant, so you may have the additional expense of caring for a foal. Though the adoption fee may seem minimal, also consider the following costs:

  • Stall/corral rental
  • Veterinarian fees
  • Vaccinations
  • Insecticides
  • Feed and tack
  • Shoeing
  • Worming
  • Medication
  • Salt/supplements
  • Grooming supplies

Note: If your adopted wild burro escapes from your property, you are responsible for all costs associated with recovery of the animal.

Have the wild burros received any medical treatment?
All of the wild burros offered by the BLM for adoption have been vaccinated, wormed, freezemarked and given necessary medical care by a veterinarian. The BLM provides a record of the animal’s medical history to each adopter.

Does the animal belong to me or to the federal government?
A wild burro retains protected status as a wild burro until the BLM issues a certificate of title to the adopter. Certificates are normally issued after the animal has been in your care for at least one year. The BLM will send you a “Title Eligibility Letter” as you approach eligibility status. You must then obtain a statement from a qualified person, such as a veterinarian, county extension agency or humane society representative, verifying that you have provided humane care and treatment for your adopted animal. Once you return the “Title Eligibility Letter” and the humane treatment statement, the BLM will mail a certificate of title to you.

Note: There are no additional fees involved in the title process.

What should I bring to the adoption?
You should bring cash, a money order or certified check to pay the adoption fees. At some adoptions, the BLM accepts VISA or MasterCard as payment.

In addition, you must bring a halter and lead rope for each animal you plan to adopt. The BLM recommends a double-stitched nylon webbing halter. The lead rope should be about 8 to 20 feet long, made of cotton or nylon, and of sufficient strength to hold a 600-pound animal. The halter buckle should be of similar strength.

You must provide transportation for your animal from the adoption site to its new home. Another person may transport the animal, but all trailers must meet the following minimum standards:

  • Covered top, sturdy walls/floors and a smooth interior;
  • Must be free from any sharp protrusions;
  • Ample head room;
  • Removable partitions or compartments to separate animals by size and sex, if necessary;
  • Floor covered with non-skid material;
  • Adequate ventilation

Due to potential injury to animals and people, burros are not loaded into drop ramp trailers. The BLM performs safety inspections on all trailers prior to loading any animals.

Where can I adopt a wild horse or burro?
About 1,000 to 1,200 wild burros are gathered and made available for adoption each year. Contact your nearest BLM office for more information. Adoption sites and dates are also listed on the BLM’s national wild horse and burro webpage.

There are many wild horse and burro adoption events throughout the United States, but because there are fewer burros than horses, not every adoption event will have burros available. Contact the BLM to find out which events will offer wild burros for adoption.

Where can I get more information about adopting a wild burro?
You may call any BLM office or visit the BLM national wild horse and burro webpage. Also, contact your local humane society or veterinarian to learn more about caring for a wild burro.