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As wild horses hit the auction block, BLM tries to keep them off the butcher block

 Wranglers wait as a wild horse runs through the wings during the 2020 Eagle Complex Gather.
BLM Nevada
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Wranglers wait as a wild horse runs through the wings during the 2020 Eagle Complex Gather.

News Brief

A Bureau of Land Management wild horse and burro online auction launched Tuesday and remains open until Feb. 22.

It will be a bit different from past auctions, though, because the agency recently changed its Adoption Incentive Program to try and make sure untrained animals make it to good homes instead of a slaughterhouse.

That includes participating adopters paying a minimum $125 adoption fee, up from $25. The agency also states that it will inspect the animals within six months of adoption to ensure they’re receiving good care.

Before program participants see any of the possible $1,000 in incentives through the program (to cover vet costs, feed and training), the horses also need to be given a clean bill of health from a veterinarian or “BLM-authorized officer.”

This comes after reports that some adoptees have been sent to slaughter after owners collected the $1,000 incentives.

It is illegal to adopt the animals for slaughter, and the agency said it “requires adopters to certify under penalty of prosecution that they will not knowingly sell or transfer the animal for slaughter or processing into commercial products."

The agency also caps at four the number of animals an individual can adopt in a year, and they can't be sold for at least 12 months.

Wild horses and burros are an invasive species in the Mountain West and have come under scorn from environmentalists. Drought has also depleted their access to food and water across the region.

But other groups defend these animals and their place on Western public lands and regularly criticize BLM roundups, adoption programs and fertility control methods.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Nevada Public Radio, Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

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