BLM Hopes for Adopters with Good Intentions
"...More than 203,000 horses have been adopted through the Wild Horse & Burro Program since 1973. Last year, 6,660 horse were adopted.
...New legislation passed in December will force the Bureau of Land Management to sell every wild horse that is 10 years or older, or has proved unadoptable on three or more occasions.
Agency spokeswoman Celia Boddington said the law directly will impact 8,440 of the 14,000 wild horses living at 10 long-term, government holding facilities, six of which are in Oklahoma. With planning for the sales already under way, wild horse advocates said they fear the animals will be slaughtered and shipped to foreign meat markets.
'If you sell these horses without restrictions -- as the law is currently written -- it is very likely most of these horses will be sent to slaughterhouses for human consumption abroad,' said Californian Virginie Parant, founder of American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. 'Now, because of the public outcry, the BLM has been slow in implementing these sales.'
This month, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., introduced a bill which would restore old protections.
Citizens have been permitted to adopt a wild horse or burro from the agency's Wild Horse & Burro Program since 1973. The new law does not eliminate the adoption process, which still requires government field workers to inspect adopters for one year before they receive title to the horse or burro in their care.
...An estimated 37,000 mustangs wander public rangelands throughout the west. They share the public land with several million head of cattle, prompting some cattle ranchers to complain about overgrazing.
...Mark Robertson of Hugo isn't sure how he feels about the new law. He owns 12 horses through the agency's adoption program, and said he has seen the best and worst from those who have adopted.
'I know one guy who had adopted 50 of these wild horses,' Robertson said. 'Once they became his property, he cut off their heads and sold them. He made about $600 apiece. So people are always going to find loopholes.'
'As for me, we love these horses. My family and I love to take them on trail rides.'"