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 The Pros and Cons of Adopting a Wild Horse
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The Pros and Cons of Adopting a Wild Horse

If you are currently looking around for a horse, then this article is for you.  The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is looking for people who are interested in adopting a wild horse or burro and are offering up to $1,000 as an incentive. 

There are around 82,000 wild horses and burros living in the Western parts of America. It may paint a lovely picture, but the herds often struggle to stay alive. The Bureau of Land Management states that due to the fact that wild horses are protected from being hunted and the lack of natural predators, the herds can double in size in around 4-5 years if left unmanaged, and consequently, the land’s resources are not able to support them.  A recent occurrence of this problem was during summer 2018 when drought conditions lead to the death of a horse due to insufficient vegetation for them to graze on. Volunteers at the time transported in food and water to keep the animals alive.

The BLM organizes regular equine gatherings in certain locations such as North Hills in Utah and Pine Nut Mountains in Nevada. Once they've been rounded up, these horses are given necessary veterinary treatment and then advertised for adoption.

According to the BLM website, the aim of the adoption drive is to reduce recurring costs for wild herds while assisting the organization in managing an increasing overpopulation of wild horses and burros on vulnerable public ranges. Adopters will receive $500 within 60 days of taking a wild horse or burro and another $500 after titling the horse. This seems like a great deal for both parties, but it is more complicated than it at first appears.

On the face of it, this plan looks as if it will protect these wild equestrians from starvation, disease and other survival issues they may experience. Not having the horses on the land will mean that the habitat will have a chance to recover and flourish. It also means that fewer wild horses will stray onto private land and suffer from the inhumane methods which some landowners use to remove them.

However, there are of course downsides to adopting a wild horse. For one thing, these animals are not domesticated, so it will take time, patience, and effort to train them. They will need to be acclimatized to be comfortable around humans, which will need a lot of care and trust, so adopters will need extensive equine knowledge. The cost of giving a home to one of these animals must also be borne in mind, i.e. space and shelter needed, plus feed, and the possibility they may need to be kept separate from other animals. The $1,000 adoption bonus may sound very appealing, but it needs to be weighed against the projected yearly cost of keeping the horse.

Although this may on paper sound like a great solution to America’s surplus wild horse problem, not all of these horses may are going to good homes, so the BLM should ensure as much as possible that they are all being adopted by responsible owners, who can afford to keep them, or many may well wind up being abandoned or abused.

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