To encourage more adopters to give a wild horse or burro a good home, the Adoption Incentive Program provides up to $1,000 to adopt an untrained wild horse or burro from the BLM. The goal of the program is to reduce BLM’s recurring costs to care for unadopted and untrained wild horses and burros while helping to enable the BLM to confront a growing over-population of wild horses and burros on fragile public rangelands.
The Adoption Incentive Program allows qualified adopters to receive up to $1,000 when adopting an eligible wild horse or burro on or after March 12, 2019. Under this program, adopters are eligible to receive:
- $500 within 60 days of adoption of an untrained wild horse and burro
- $500 within 60 days of titling the animal.
The incentive is available for all untrained animals that are eligible for adoption, including animals at BLM facilities, off-site events and on the Online Corral. A $25 fee applies at the time of adoption.
Which animals are eligible to participate in the Adoption Incentive Program?
All untrained animals offered at any BLM off-range corrals, online corral events, satellite events and any BLM approved events and locations as of March 12, 2019 are eligible to be adopted through the Adoption Incentive Program regardless of species, age, sex, color, herd management area or the number of times the animal has been offered for adoption. Animals purchased through the Sales Program are not eligible.
As a Trainer Incentive Program trainer, am I eligible to receive an incentive?
No. TIP trainers are not eligible to receive the incentive.
Are animals trained through a BLM training program or the Mustang Heritage Foundation’s training programs eligible?
No. Trained animals are not eligible for an incentive.
Can I receive an incentive for purchasing a wild horse or burro through the Sale Program?
No. Only adopted animals are eligible for the incentive program.
Can I retroactively receive the incentive for an animal I adopted prior to March 12, 2019?
No. Only animals adopted on or after March 12, 2019 are eligible for the incentives.
Do I still have to pay an adoption fee?
Yes. A minimum fee of $25 is still required at time of adoption.
How will I receive the incentive?
The incentives will be deposited at your preferred financial institution. You must authorize electronic funds transfers in order to receive the incentive. (See Example)
Is there a limit to the number of animals for which I can receive an incentive?
The BLM may allow each adopter participating in the incentive program to adopt and maintain a maximum of four untitled animals annually; however, as each participating animal is titled, the BLM may allow an adopter to adopt additional animal(s) (up to a maximum of four untitled animals at any one time) through the Adoption Incentive Program.
Can I combine the Adoption Incentive with other incentives offered by the BLM?
The Adoption Incentive Program replaces all current incentive programs, such as the Buddy System and the $500 incentive for horses four years and older common in the New Mexico region.
What if I reassign or return a horse for which I received an incentive?
You will not be required to return the incentive received at time of adoption, but you will no longer be eligible to receive the second incentive at time of title. The BLM will remove eligibility to participate in the incentive program from any adopter that relinquishes two or more animals within a 12 month period or does not adhere to the terms and conditions of the Adoption Incentive Agreement. Adopters who relinquish an animal, but retain other animals participating in the Adoption Incentive Program, remain eligible to receive incentive payments when the remaining animals are titled.
In addition, reassigned animals (defined as a previously adopted animal returned to BLM and readopted to another individual) are not eligible for the incentive program.
Are BLM employees, contractors or partners eligible to participate in the incentive program?
BLM employees, immediate family members (spouse, domestic partner, cohabitant, child, stepchild, grandchild, parent, stepparent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandparent, great grandparent, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or first cousin (that is, a child of an aunt or uncle), sibling, half-sibling, stepsibling, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, including adoptive relationships) of BLM employees, and individuals or organizations receiving BLM funds either through a contract or agreement and their immediate family members are NOT eligible to participate in the Adoption Incentive Program.
Adoption of excess wild horses and burros is a vital component of the Wild Horse and Burro Program and of how the BLM manages healthy lands and healthy herds. Since passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, the BLM has regularly removed excess wild horses and burros from the range to address herd overpopulation. It has placed more than 270,000 of these animals into private care, including more than 8,250 wild horses and burros through the Adoption Incentive Program since March 2019.
Before an adopter takes home their wild horse or burro, they must certify, under penalty of prosecution, that they will not knowingly sell or transfer the animal for slaughter or for processing into commercial products. Additionally, to ensure adopted animals go to good homes, the BLM limits adopters to assuming title to a maximum of four animals within a 12-month period and does not allow the transfer of title for at least 12 months from the adoption date. During the adoption period, the BLM conducts compliance inspections on animals while in private care prior to title transfer.
When the BLM is notified about a freeze-marked wild horse or burro being offered for sale, BLM officials identify the animal in the database to determine its disposition (adopted, titled, sold, transferred, or deceased). The agency investigates any possible violations of the Prohibited Acts and takes appropriate administrative or legal action. This could include returning the animal to BLM care, barring the adopter from participating in the adoption program in the future or referring the case to U.S. Attorneys for possible prosecution. If the animal is titled, BLM will provide a letter to the requestor confirming its status.
In an effort to constantly improve our management, the BLM plans to continue to analyze the program as it takes the following actions to provide further oversight and protection of adopted wild horses and burros:
Action: Continue to work with partners and other stakeholders to evaluate potential improvements to the Adoption Incentive Program, consistent with relevant laws and regulations.
The BLM values the informed engagement of stakeholder groups with an interest in helping advance the goals of the Wild Horse and Burro Program, including increasing the placement of animals into good homes. The agency commits to continued engagement with groups and individuals as well as the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board.
CONSISTENT FORMS LANGUAGE
Action: Ensure all adoption applications and agreements clearly and consistently state that the adopter must provide humane care and require the adopter to certify that they will not knowingly sell or transfer ownership of an adopted animal to any person or organization that intends to resell, trade, or give away the animals for slaughter or processing into commercial products.
The BLM recently issued revised adoption application and agreement forms that contain clear and consistent language regarding the prohibition against adopting a wild horse or burro with the intent of selling or transferring it for slaughter or processing into commercial products. The new application and agreement forms are currently in use by the field and available online. BLM will be updating the Title Eligibility Letter with similar consistent language in the near future.
SCREENING OF APPLICANTS
Action: Improve the screening of adoption applicants to better ensure that ineligible individuals are identified and excluded from participating in the adoption program, consistent with relevant laws and regulations.
The BLM commits to solutions that will better enable field personnel to verify when potential adopters are not eligible to adopt under existing laws and regulations. The Wild Horse and Burro Program System – the central database that contains information on all animals and adopters – flags individuals who have been deemed ineligible to adopt due to a previous violation of Prohibited Acts outlined in the regulations (43 CFR 4770.1). The BLM will consider ways to make this database more readily accessible to specialists in field environments.
Action: Conduct an inspection of wild horses and burros adopted through the Adoption Incentive Program within six months of adoption date, rather than twelve months.
Under current BLM policy , a BLM official conducts a compliance inspection of adopted wild horses or burros within one year (prior to the issuance of title). As a practical matter, most inspections are completed within six months of adoption. BLM will clarify policy to identify the earlier inspection time frame for animals adopted under the Adoption Incentive Program.
VETERINARIAN CERTIFICATION OF TITLE APPLICATION
Action: Have a veterinarian certify all title applications for wild horses and burros adopted through the Adoption Incentive Program (AIP).
The BLM requires certification of proper care and treatment by a veterinarian, extension agent, local humane official, or other qualified individual. For animals adopted under the Adoption Incentive Program, BLM will limit that certification to a veterinarian (or BLM authorized officer) is required to receive incentive payments.
FEDERAL LAW NOTICES
Action: Increase posting of warning notices at livestock sale facilities, highlighting criminal penalties for illegally selling untitled wild horses and burros.
BLM mailed copies of the Federal Law Notice to over 750 livestock sale facilities throughout the United States in 2018 and is resending notices again in August 2021. Facilities are encouraged to post the notices in a visible area to inform sellers and buyers of their legal responsibilities should they come across a freeze-marked horse or burro. The notices are sent with samples of a Certificate of Title and Bill of Sale so operators can confirm the legal status of any animal that comes into their facility.
REFER VIOLATIONS TO US ATTORNEYS
Action: Continue to refer cases to relevant U.S. Attorneys for potential violations under 18 USC 1001 for making false or misleading statements on adoption and title applications and agreements.
When BLM is presented with evidence suggesting that an individual may have provided false information to the agency on an adoption application or agreement, agency law enforcement conducts an investigation and may issue citations or refer cases to the appropriate U.S. Attorney to determine if prosecution is warranted.
Action: Evaluate changes to federal regulations that strengthen protections for adopted wild horses and burros.
Current regulations governing the Wild Horse and Burro Program were last updated in 1986. A rule-making process begins with the publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register, and the process includes an opportunity for public comment. The BLM remains committed to managing wild horses and burros pursuant to the Act and subsequent direction from Congress.
- News Release: The BLM announces additional protective steps for wild horse and burro adoptions
- Read about successful wild horse and burro adoptions on the Tales from the Trails blog
- News Release: ICYMI: BLM's Adoption Incentive Program a success at the one year mark as agency takes steps to address wild horse and burro overpopulation