Eastern States leads the Nation in WHB virtual compliance inspections

The BLM has been looking for new and innovative ways to get work done in the Wild Horse and Burro Program. One new  “tool” in the toolbox is virtual compliance inspections. With the onset of COVID-19 and county/state lockdowns, teleworking and social distancing becoming the norm, Eastern States encouraged our WHB specialists to begin conducting compliance inspections virtually. This new compliance tool has proven to be a great way for us to connect with our adopters and keep lines of communication open, even with all  the restrictions in place with COVID-19. 

Wild Horses in Ewing Off-Range Corral
 
Wild Horses at Ewing Off Range Corral

Using texting, FaceTime, and other messaging apps, we have been able to keep an “eye” on our adopted wild horses and burros. Since March 2020, Eastern States has conducted more than 500 virtual compliance inspections on adopted wild horses and burros.

"I wasn’t sure how well virtual compliance would go over with our adopters. However, most of them really like it. It is amazing how much we can accomplish with a computer and a smartphone,” said Demetris Sanders, WHB specialist. The BLM has developed a form to be completed with each virtual compliance inspection that is included as an official record in the adopter’s files. In FY20, Eastern States completed 1,272 animal inspections, over 25% of the national accomplishments. We also led the development of the virtual compliance inspection program including creating the SOPs and training the rest of the program.

Virtual Compliance
 
WHB Specialist using Virtual Compliance 

Compliance inspections occur throughout the country and are completed before wild horses and burros are titled. Currently, the BLM requires mandatory compliance inspections in three circumstances: where more than 25 adopted animals are housed, where the  adopter participated in the Adoption Incentive Program, or where there are reports of potential abuse or neglect. Even though some specialists were skeptical, they quickly discovered that our public was excited by this new tool. Adopter’s adapted very quickly to providing necessary photos/videos of their facilities and their adopted animals. “I was excited to have the opportunity to show off how well my mustang is doing,” said one adopter. “With the new normal that is affecting us all, it was good to see that BLM is still checking up on us.” There are still some cases that will require a physical presence by a BLM representative, but, overall, virtual compliance is a new, innovative way for Eastern States and BLM to get work accomplished.