Horse and animal advocacy groups have banded together to bring awareness to the issues facing wild horses.
As part of the effort, they have organized the first National Wild Horse Adoption Day, scheduled for Sept. 26.
More than 65 events will take place across the country in support of the adoption day. Organizers of other events can apply to have them included on a calendar through the event Web site, www.nationalwildhorseadoptionday.org/.
The groups supporting National Wild Horse Adoption Day, in addition to the Bureau of Land Management, include Wild Horses 4 Ever, the American Horse Protection Association, the Mustang Heritage Foundation, and The Humane Society of the United States.
Nearly 33,000 mustangs roam federal lands in 10 Western states. To maintain land and herds, the BLM oversees the adoption of wild horses and burros through public adoptions held throughout the United States. Nonetheless, the population exceeds the BLM's targeted capacity of 27,300. That figure doesn't include the 30,000 wild horses and burros in short- and long-term holding facilities nationwide.
This has caused a budget crisis at the bureau, which has forced officials to consider euthanasia of the wild horses (see JAVMA, Nov. 1, 2008, page 1375).
Horses between 1 and 6 years of age are typically selected for adoption. Since 1973, more than 220,000 wild horses and burros have been adopted. Annually, the agency captures about 10,000 horses and, through its Adopt-A-Horse program, adopts out about 6,000; however, with the economic downturn, those figures have dropped from 5,701 in 2005 to 4,772 in 2007.
Jerry Reynoldson, BLM spokesman, said the groups agree on the need for a comprehensive, sophisticated, and well-managed marketing and adoption program that will quickly place the surplus numbers of horses in holding facilities into qualified, adoptive homes.
A goal of 1,000 adoptions has been set for the National Adoption Day program. If achieved, this could also save more than $1.5 million for the bureau.
State BLM offices, as well as wild horse groups, rescue centers, and volunteers, will participate in activities through Sept. 26. Activities will include adoptions as well as educational events and wild horse expositions.