(ABC4) – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is offering financial incentives for the adoption of untrained animals, specifically wild horses and donkeys (or burros) through their Adoption Incentive Program.

The program requires that adopters must certify under penalty of prosecution that they will not knowingly sell or transfer the animal for slaughter or processing into commercial products.

BLM also limits adoption to four animals a year, and prohibits the transfer of title for at least a year from the adoption date.

The BLM has recently changed its policy to now require compliance inspections of animals within six months of adoption. Additionally, title applications will have to be signed by a veterinarian or BLM-authorized officer for the adopter to receive the incentive payment.

“We have an unwavering commitment to the humane care and placement of America’s wild horses and burros. By and large, the Adoption Incentive Program has provided the boost people have needed to support their dream of adopting and appropriately caring for a wild horse or burro,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, BLM Director. “As we further refine this successful program, I encourage all capable, potential adopters to give a wild horse or burro a good home.”

The Adoption Incentive Program is meant to increase adoptions of untrained, wild horses and donkeys by offering an incentive of up to $1,000. The money is intended to help with costs of care, such as veterinary services, feed, and training.

More than half of all wild horses and donkeys placed into private care last year were adopted through the BLM’s Adoption Incentive Program, with a total of 8,637 animals (the highest number in the last 24 years)

However, one of the nation’s leading wild horse protection groups, the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) says the BLM’s incentives “fall short” of eliminating the cash incentives that send horses and burros to the slaughterhouse.

“Despite the recommendation of its own national advisory board, the BLM is still failing to eliminate the cash incentives that have resulted in a steady flow of federally protected wild horses and burros being sold into kill pens that sell equines for slaughter,” said Suzanne Roy, executive director of AWHC. “BLM’s plan to conduct mass removals this year only amplifies the danger and BLM should instead significantly ramp up its efforts to manage these animals humanely on the range using fertility control vaccines.”

The AWHC cited its own investigation it conducted that led to a 2021 report in The New York Times when making its claims in a press release sent shortly after the BLM’s announcement on Wednesday.

The BLM manages and protects wild horses and burros on 26.9 million acres of public lands across 10 states.

To learn more about the wild horse or burro program and how to adopt, click here.