BLM wild horse adoptions save taxpayers millions, report says

By Scott Streater | 05/22/2024 01:47 PM EDT

The report author, a free-market think tank, called the program a “massive success.” Critics slammed the report for relying on “self-reported statistics from the BLM.”

A helicopter pushes wild horses during a roundup.

A helicopter pushes wild horses during a roundup July 16, 2021, near Utah's U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground. Rick Bowmer/AP

A Bureau of Land Management wild horse adoption program that has been rocked in recent years by allegations of animals later being sold for slaughter has been a resounding success and saved taxpayers millions of dollars, according to a report released Wednesday by a nonprofit research group.

The adoption incentive program, which pays $1,000 to private landowners who adopt a wild horse that has been rounded up and removed from federal rangelands, has so far saved an estimated $66 million in costs if the 15,000 or so animals adopted since the program started in 2019 were still being held in BLM off-range corrals and pastures.

What’s more, the total savings amounts to nearly $400 million — what BLM would have paid to care for and feed these 15,000 animals over their lifetimes, according to the report from Bozeman, Montana-based Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), a free-market think tank.


“In the past five years, the BLM’s wild horse adoption program has proven to be a massive success — cementing an actionable solution to wild horse overpopulation that prioritizes public land conservation, ensures the health and safety of animals, and dramatically reduces taxpayer costs,” Brian Yablonski, the research center’s CEO, said in a statement. “This program demonstrates the powerful role incentives can play in creating effective conservation outcomes.”