BLM awards more than $4.7 million for wild horse and burro training and adoption programs



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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Bureau of Land Management has awarded two grants totaling more than $4.7 million to accelerate the training and placement of excess wild horses and burros into private care. These grants are part of the BLM’s efforts to increase adoptions of wild horses and burros, protect wild herds and their habitat on public lands, and save taxpayers money. The grants were awarded to the Round Rock, Texas-based Mustang Heritage Foundation and Austin, Texas-based Mustang Champions.

Together, the grants have the potential to help facilitate placement of approximately 3,600 wild horses and burros into private care over the next year, saving taxpayers approximately $99 million over the lifetime of the animals. It costs BLM about $27,500, on average, to provide life-time care for a wild horse not placed into private care. 

“Training and finding good homes for wild horses and burros is an integral part of keeping our wild herds and public lands strong and healthy, and it helps cut costs and save taxpayers money,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning. “I look forward to working with the Mustang Heritage Foundation and Mustang Champions on fresh and innovative approaches to finding more good homes for these cherished animals.”

“We are excited to continue our partnership with the Bureau of Land Management and are appreciative of our collaborative work that has placed thousands of wild horses and burros into productive and loving homes. Our staff is looking forward to fostering our supporters’ engagement in order to make a lasting difference in the adopter’s and animal’s lives,” said Karen Gustin, Mustang Heritage Foundation Executive Director.

"We are so honored to have this opportunity to partner with the Wild Horse & Burro Program,” said Matt Manroe, Mustang Champions Executive Director. “We created Mustang Champions to design and produce events and an educational program to engage and persuade the American public to get more involved and potentially adopt an American mustang transitioned out of holding. The Mustang Champions team is very experienced and very talented. We know that we can make an impact on the future of mustangs in holding. We encourage everyone to come and join us in our efforts."

The BLM awarded approximately $4 million to the Mustang Heritage Foundation to support and expand a network of private trainers and storefronts for wild horses and burros, build and develop a mounted program, launch a new follow-up program to assist adopters and conduct post-adoption check-ins, and create training resources for current and future trainers, among other activities. The BLM has partnered with the Mustang Heritage Foundation since 2007, during which time the organization has helped place more than 20,000 wild horses and burros into private care.

The BLM also awarded nearly $750,000 to Mustang Champions. Mustang Champions, a new partner to BLM, will develop a wild horse-specific humane training curriculum, host English and Western discipline competition events and placement programs, and conduct educational outreach. The programs are designed to grow adoptions and sales through increased competitive participation and to raise awareness of the status of America’s wild horses and burros and the management of their rangeland. 

The BLM offers wild horses and burros for adoption in support of its efforts to manage and protect free-roaming herds on public lands as required by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Most herds on public lands are located in arid environments and lack natural predators that can control herd growth. As a result, herds can grow quickly and overwhelm the food and water available to them, which can damage the land and lead to starvation and thirst for the animals. To protect wild horses and burros from overpopulation, the BLM periodically gathers excess animals and makes them available for adoption or sale to qualified owners. 

Historically, adoptions and sales have not matched population growth and removal rates on public lands. As of February 2023, the BLM is caring for more than 22,000 wild horses and burros in its off-range corrals awaiting adoption, and an additional 40,000 unadopted animals are being provided long-term care on private pastures. Last year, it cost the BLM nearly $83.5 million to care for unadopted and unsold animals.

The grants announced today continue the BLM’s efforts to reinvigorate its adoption and sales programs and reduce the number of animals in off-range corrals and pastures. Thanks to the help of its partners and innovative tools like the Adoption Incentive Program and the Online Corral, the BLM has doubled the rate of private care placement over the last five years compared to the previous five years. Since 1971, BLM has placed a total of nearly 290,000 animals into private care.

The grants were awarded after a thorough review of off-range proposals received through a 2022 funding opportunity. Both agreements cover a period of one year, with an option to extend for four additional years contingent on Congressional appropriations.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.