PETITION TARGET: The Bureau of Land Management
On June 2, more than 30 legislators sent a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland demanding a thorough review of the Bureau of Land Management’s Adoption Incentive Program for wild horses and burros to ensure the iconic animals aren’t sent to slaughter, in violation of the agency’s adoption agreement.
The American Wild Horse Campaign has threatened to sue the agency in federal court.
Nonprofit Friends of Animals recently filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Colorado, according to the Denver Post. The lawsuit also alleges the adoption program is circumventing federal law that forbids the slaughter of wild horses and calls for an immediate, temporary halt to the program so the BLM can conduct a thorough investigation into the program’s outcomes and impact.
Wild horses adopted through a federal program that pays $1,000 per adopted horse to supposedly loving new families have instead been sold to slaughterhouses by the adopters who vowed to protect them after they received their stipends, the New York Times reported.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) created the Adoption Incentive Program in 2019 to find private homes for wild horses rounded up during gather operations in areas where the number of wild horses exceeds the agency’s allowances.
Under the federal program, adopters receive $1,000 per horse to adopt and care for a wild horse. They have to check a box on the application form saying they will not sell the horses to slaughter. The agency disperses the funds after 12 months and once the horse is titled to the new guardian. The program aims to find good homes for the animals and bills itself as a chance to care for “a part of America’s heritage,” according to the BLM’s website.
But some adopters have taken advantage of this financial incentive and profited further by sending these beautiful and intelligent animals to their deaths. As soon as the 12 months are up and the money hits their bank accounts, they have sold the horses to auction houses for slaughter.
Often, these horses show up at auction emaciated and diseased, clearly lacking the humane treatment their new guardians promised, according to the New York Times.
Records obtained by the New York Times also raise serious questions about the agency’s choice to adopt horses out to individuals with histories involving horse slaughter. The BLM allowed a man to adopt who had previously served time in prison for kidnapping and beating two men during a horse-slaughter deal gone bad.
Another adopter, Gary Kidd, decided to take as many horses as he could– receiving at least $20,000 of federal money and agreeing to the BLM’s condition that he would not resell the horses for slaughter. Kidd told the New York Times that his horses were allegedly living on his farm. But in reality, the horses ended up at a Texas livestock auction frequented by slaughterhouse brokers known as “kill buyers,” according to the New York Times.
While the BLM requires adopters to fill out a form with a checkbox that states they will not sell the horses to any slaughterhouses, the agency is not taking responsibility for those adopters who do. A BLM spokesperson said the agency has no way to enforce the rule once a horse has been titled, and that adopters who sell horses to slaughterhouses are free to adopt and get paid again.
This disturbing, taxpayer-supported practice needs to be outlawed. The BLM’s adoption program needs to require that adopters agree to never sell wild horses to slaughter– or be required to pay back the taxpayer-supported stipends they receive if they do. The agency also needs to reject applications from individuals with known histories of selling horses to slaughter.
Sign our petition urging the Bureau of Land Management to adopt these new provisions to their adoption agreement to prevent America’s wild horses from being slaughtered for profit.