US vows to improve protections for wild horse adoptions

Jul 27, 2021, 11:54 AM | Updated: 6:37 pm

RENO, Nev. (AP) — U.S. officials who are trying to adopt out wild horses captured on public land say they are tightening protections to guard against the illegal resale of the animals for slaughter, but advocates say the government needs to do more, including ending incentive payments for adoptions.

The Bureau of Land Management is committed to the health and safety of adopted mustangs and burros, its deputy director for programs, Nada Wolff Culver, said in announcing the changes Monday.

“We will begin to make additional compliance visits post-adoption, bring more scrutiny to potential adopters and increase warnings to sale barns about the risks of illegally selling wild horses and burros, among other steps,” she said.

Advocates said they have documented the reselling of horses for slaughter for nearly a decade and that it won’t stop until the agency ends the $1,000 payments it has offered in recent years to try to jump-start lagging demand at overstocked holding pens.

The bureau estimates there are about 86,000 horses and burros on the range in 10 Western states, about half of those in Nevada. It says that’s three times as many as public lands can sustain, which horse advocates dispute.

About 50,000 wild horses and burros are in government holding facilities. The bureau said it has placed more than 8,000 in adoptive homes since March 2019, for a total of more than 270,000 over the life of the decades-old program.

Adopters already must certify “under penalty of prosecution” that they will not knowingly sell or transfer the animals for slaughter or for processing into commercial products, Culver said.

The land agency intends to improve screening of adoption applicants and inspect animals within six months of adoption, instead of the current 12 months, she said.

Veterinarians will have to certify all applications in order for adopters to receive the $1,000 incentive. The bureau also will post more warning notices at 750 livestock sale facilities and review other potential changes to federal regulations.

The government also prohibits someone from adopting more than four animals within a 12-month period and bans transfer of ownership for at least 12 months after the adoption date, Culver said.

Animal advocates say removing the animals from the open range is driven by pressure from ranchers who don’t want the free-roaming horses competing with their livestock for forage.

They insist the mustangs should remain in the wild and that the adoption incentive money would be better spent on horse fertility controls, like darting mares with contraceptive drugs. They have been pressing for an independent investigation of past abuses in the adoption program.

The Coalition for Healthy Nevada Lands, Wildlife and Free Roaming Horses said Tuesday it “strongly supports” the newly announced safeguards.

The group that describes itself as a coalition of conservationists and wildlife and range management professionals says the agency’s move will help sustain ecological functions that provide resources for wildlife, free-roaming horses and livestock.

National horse protection groups were more skeptical.

The changes the bureau “is vowing to implement will be rendered meaningless without the elimination of the cash incentives for the adoption of untamed, wild mustangs and burros,” said Grace Kuhn, communications director for the American Wild Horse Campaign. “These federally protected animals will continue to be shipped to slaughter.”

Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation, said the agency should replace cash with vouchers for adopters who present receipts for training or veterinary care.

“We’re glad that BLM is listening to the public’s concerns, but we’re disappointed because this still falls short of the outside investigation that we want to see happen,” she said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A passerby tries to pass through a protest in Beijing, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. Protesters angered by...
Associated Press

China affirms zero-COVID stance, eases rules after protests

BEIJING (AP) — Authorities eased anti-virus rules in scattered areas but affirmed China’s severe “zero- COVID” strategy Monday after crowds demanded President Xi Jinping resign during protests against controls that confine millions of people to their homes. The government made no comment on the protests or criticism of Xi, the most widespread display of opposition […]
1 hour ago
FILE - Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko talks with US President George W.Bush, at the NATO Sum...
Associated Press

14 years on, NATO to renew a vow to Ukraine

BUCHAREST (AP) — NATO returns on Tuesday to the scene of one of its most controversial decisions, intent on repeating its vow that Ukraine — now suffering through the 10th month of a war against Russia — will join the world’s biggest military alliance one day. NATO foreign ministers will gather for two days at […]
1 hour ago
This photo mad available by Ukrainian doctor Oleh Duda shows the moment when lights at a hospital w...
Associated Press

Surgeons work by flashlight as Ukraine power grid battered

KHERSON, Ukraine (AP) — Dr. Oleh Duda, a cancer surgeon at a hospital in Lviv, Ukraine, was in the middle of a complicated, dangerous surgery when he heard explosions nearby. Moments later, the lights went out. Duda had no choice but to keep working with only a headlamp for light. The lights came back when […]
1 hour ago
Sheree Perry of Virginia Beach, center, prays with chaplains at a memorial on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022...
Associated Press

City to hold vigil honoring those killed in Walmart shooting

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — The city of Chesapeake, Virginia, has scheduled a candlelight vigil for Monday evening that will honor and remember the victims of last week’s mass shooting at a Walmart store. Six employees were killed and six people were wounded by a store supervisor late Tuesday night in the city of about 250,000 […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Pakistan launches new anti-polio drive amid spike in cases

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani authorities launched a new nationwide anti-polio drive on Monday amid a spike in new cases among children, health officials said. It is the sixth such campaign this year and will last for five days, aiming to inoculate children under the age of 5 in high-risk areas. The newest drive was aimed […]
1 day ago
FILE - Payton Gendron is led into the courtroom for a hearing at Erie County Court in Buffalo, N.Y....
Associated Press

Lawyers: Buffalo supermarket gunman plans to plead guilty

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A white gunman who targeted a Buffalo supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood plans to plead guilty on Monday to killing 10 people and wounding three others, according to lawyers representing victims’ relatives. Payton Gendron, 19, is scheduled to appear in Erie County Court for a hearing that was postponed for […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
US vows to improve protections for wild horse adoptions