Leading Wild Horse Advocate Group Calls For Reform of the BLM Adoption Incentive Program

Grand Junction, Colo (Nov. 4, 2022) – Today, in advance of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) wild horse adoption event in Grand Junction, Colo. on Nov. 4 - 5, the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is advocating for changes to the BLM’s Adoption Incentive Program (AIP) – a central component of the weekend’s event. 

In 2019, the BLM implemented the AIP, which pays individuals $1,000 in taxpayer funds to adopt a wild, untamed horse or burro, allowing up to four animals per adopter at a time. An investigative report by the AWHC found that the AIP has become a pipeline to slaughter for now thousands of wild horses and burros. The investigation and a subsequent New York Times Exposé uncovered that individuals, or groups of related individuals, are often adopting the maximum number of animals per person, holding them for one year (the point at which title passes and the full cash incentive is paid), and then sending the animals into the slaughter pipeline. One documented family of 12 earned as much as $82,000 in federal incentive payments and estimated auction fees. 

Despite a dwindling adoption market and an astounding 64,000 wild horses and burros in government holding facilities, the BLM continues to round up and remove wild horses and burros at an accelerated pace, funneling thousands of equines into these crowded, disease-stricken pens.

Of further concern, on Nov. 3, BLM Colorado informed the public that while this weekend's adoption event was originally to feature 60 Piceance Basin wild horses, only 35 geldings (males) will be available for adoption because the mares (females) are experiencing nasal discharge. This can be one of the first symptoms of Streptococcus equi or ‘Strangles’, a highly infectious respiratory infection that has previously plagued the BLM’s Axtell, Utah holding facility. The Piceance Basin horses were immediately sent to this facility following a controversial July 2022 roundup. The strangles virus is currently running rampant in a Wyoming holding facility. 

“There’s a better way to incentivize wild horse adoptions, while ensuring humane and safe outcomes for the animals. We urge the BLM to abandon the cash incentives and instead offer veterinary vouchers to offset the initial care of bringing a wild horse or burro home,” said Amelia Perrin, Investigations Manager for the AWHC and author of the AIP investigative report. 

AWHC advocates for and urges the BLM and Congress to implement the following reforms:

Veterinary vouchers

The BLM’s AIP must be reformed by eliminating cash incentives and instead offering veterinary vouchers—a solution that has gained broad support from stakeholders—to offset the initial care of a wild horse or burro. 

Fertility control

The BLM has significantly increased its removal operations—in Fiscal Year 2022 alone, the agency captured and confined over 19,000 wild horses and burros in already crowded holding facilities, spending more than $93 million in roundup and holding costs. The AIP was intended to increase adoption rates in the face of a growing off-range population, yet it has created more problems than it solved. 

Public education

Prospective adopters must understand what it means to take on an untamed wild horse or burro. Adoption requires serious financial resources, proper training, and equine infrastructure, such as fencing, corrals, shelter, food and water, to ensure the animal is properly cared for on its journey from a wild to a domesticated animal.


What: B-roll and photo opportunity. Approx. 35 wild horse geldings available for adoption and sale. 


Nov. 4, 2022

Public viewing: noon - 6 p.m.

- and - 

Nov. 5, 2022

Open: 7:30 a.m. - 10 a.m.

Silent bidding: 10 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.


Mesa County Fairgrounds

2785 US Highway 50 Grand Junction 

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. In addition to advocating for the protection and preservation of America's wild herds, AWHC implements the largest wild horse fertility control program in the world through a partnership with the State of Nevada for wild horses that live in the Virginia Range near Reno.