BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The federal government could pay up to $1,000 to people who adopt wild horses thanks to a new incentive program aimed at reducing chronic wild horse overpopulation.
Adopters can receive $500 within 60 days of purchasing an animal, with an additional $500 available after the animals are titled — one year after the adoption dates, according to a statement Tuesday from the Bureau of Land Management.
The agency estimated there were about 82,000 wild horses and burros in the U.S. in 2018, more than triple the amount of designated that rangeland can support, the Idaho Statesman reported.
"High costs and a growing number of unadopted and unsold animals in BLM holding facilities have hindered the agency's ability to reduce overpopulation in recent years," the statement said. "Chronic overpopulation increases the risk of damage to rangeland resources through overgrazing, and raises the chances of starvation and thirst for animals in overpopulated herds."
The agency removed 11,472 animals from the wild last year, but only 4,609 of them were adopted or sold. Nearly 1,500 were trained and just over 700 were given "fertility control treatments," according agency statistics.
The incentive program applies only to the thousands of untrained animals taken from the wild, according to the release.
The agency said the funds can ease the strain of taming the horses.
"We understand that adopting a wild horse or burro represents a commitment. The incentive is designed to help with the adopter's initial training and humane care," BLM Deputy Director of Programs and Policy Brian Steed said in the statement.