(KMVT/KSVT) — UPDATE:
On Tuesday, the Bureau of Land Management announced it's doing something it's never done before, offering $1,000 to individuals who adopt a wild horse.
Since the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was passed in 1971, an iconic animal that has long embodied the American West has become a problem due to overpopulation.
"A wild horse herd can double in size every four years, because they simply don't have any natural predators," says Heather Tiel-Nelson, public relations specialist for the Bureau of Land Management.
"They continue to breed and overpopulate so much land that they're allowed to roam on and that vegetation doesn't have time to grow back," says Joshua Mani, a wild horse trainer in Jerome.
The Bureau estimates that more than 80,000 wild horses and burrows occupy public land today. A number the Bureau says that can't manage effectively, and that it's costing both the taxpayer and the government.
"The overpopulation on the range far exceeds what the demand is for wild horses in private care. As a result we are currently feeding 50,000 animals off the range to the tune of $50 million dollars," Nelson says.
The Bureau has partnered with organizations like the Mustang Heritage Foundation to place incentives for adopting and training wild horses through the tip program.
"I had no idea what this was about, I signed up I was chosen to participate, and I absolutely fell in love with the mustang," Mani says.
The BLM is also offering incentives to land owners, who take in wild horses on their lands.
"We're seeking bids for off pastures and Idaho is one of the states include in that bid," Nelson says. "So we're really looking for a free roaming environment for these animals."
Anyone interested in adopting a wild horse or burro should visit the BLM website or call 866-468-7826 to learn more about the guidelines and requirements for adopting a wild horse or burro.
For the first time, the Bureau of Land Management is offering $1,000 to anyone adopting a "untrained" wild horse or burro removed from public lands.
The BLM is personally awarding the funds to incentivize the adoption of these animals, which is unlike other programs the agency had done with other wild horse management groups.
Those who do adopt need to prove that they can provide a suitable home as well as feed the animals.
“We understand that adopting a wild horse or burro represents a commitment. The incentive is designed to help with the adopter’s initial training and humane care,” said BLM Deputy Director of Programs and Policy Brian Steed. “I encourage anyone who has considered adopting a wild horse or burro to join the thousands of owners who have provided good homes to more than 245,000 wild horses or burros since 1971.”