Federal Adoption Incentive Program Sends Over A Dozen Wild Horses and Burros to Slaughter Auctions

A wild horse family including foal on open land.
A wild horse family including foal on open land. Mitch Barrie

Newsdate: Monday, August 2, 2021 - 10:35 am
Location: WASHINGTON, DC

Agency’s recent reforms will not stop this tax-subsidized slaughter pipeline for these federally-protected icons.

Wild horses lined up in BLM pen.

Wild horses lined up in BLM pen

BLM Agency's recent reforms will not stop this tax-subsidized slaughter pipeline for federally-protected wild horses and burros.
© 2016 by BLM - Oregon New window.

The nation’s leading wild horse advocacy organization, the American Wild Horse Campaign, uncovered at least 13 more instances of wild horses and burros funneled through the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Adoption Incentive Program (AIP) then dumped at slaughter auctions in Oklahoma and Montana. The discovery comes two days after the BLM released a list of AIP reforms that were heavily criticized by AWHC as inadequate to protect wild horses and burros from slaughter.

The AIP — which pays adopters to take up to four wild, unhandled wild horses or burros at $1,000 per animal was exposed by an AWHC investigation as a tax-subsidized pipeline to slaughter for the federally protected animals.

The investigation prompted an explosive New York Times report documenting that “truckloads” of wild horses and burros were being sent to slaughter auctions after adopters pocketed the incentive payments, which come in two installments: $500 when the horse or burro was adopted and $500 after the title is transferred a year later.

Included in the AIP animals just identified by AWHC at slaughter auctions this week were 10 burros adopted to one family and then dumped in an Oklahoma kill pen, likely netting the family upwards of $15,000 in incentive payments and auction sale fees.

Additionally, AWHC confirmed that seven wild horses were sent by a different family to a Montana auction frequented by kill buyers; three of those have so far been confirmed as adopted through the AIP, with the remainder expected to be confirmed as their brands are identified.

All of the animals were rescued by Evanescent Mustang Rescue and Sanctuary with support from AWHC’s rescue fund, before they were purchased by kill buyers (individuals who buy horses and burros at livestock auctions and ship them across the border to slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico).

“The BLM’s proposed reforms are ineffective and do nothing to prevent adopters with ill intent from receiving taxpayer dollars to launder wild horses and burros to slaughter,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of the American Wild Horse Campaign.

“ Mustangs and burros are showing up in kill pens every day. The BLM’s reforms to the Adoption Incentive Program are like bailing water from a leaking ship. They do nothing to address the root cause of the problem: cash incentives that pay people $1,000 to adopt wild untamed horses or burros.”

AWHC’s detailed analysis of the shortcomings of the BLM’s reforms can be found here.

AWHC, working with Skydog Sanctuary and Evanescent Mustang Rescue and Sanctuary, has identified over 120 horses from kill pens in the last seven months and of those, 92 have so far been confirmed as adopted through the AIP.

In July, AWHC, joined by Skydog Sanctuary, Evanescent Mustang Rescue and Sanctuary, and wildlife photographer Carol Walker, filed suit in federal district court alleging that the Department of the Interior and the BLM violated multiple federal laws in the creation and implementation of controversial Incentive Program for wild horses and burros. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the groups by Eubanks and Associates, a top national public interest environmental law firm.

About The American Wild Horse Campaign

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, with more than 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse and burros in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.


Press release by Grace Kuhn

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