OKEECHOBEE – Wild horses and burros are coming to the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center Feb. 9-11.
According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approximately 35 wild horses will be available for adoption. Trainer Incentive Program trainers may select animals starting at noon on Feb. 10.
The Bureau of Land Management offers wild horses and burros for adoption or purchase at events across the country throughout the year. Since passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, the BLM has regularly removed excess wild horses and burros from the range to address herd overpopulation. BLM has placed more than 270,000 of these animals into private care.
Before an adopter takes home their wild horse or burro, they must certify, under penalty of prosecution, that they will not knowingly sell or transfer the animal for slaughter or for processing into commercial products. Additionally, to ensure adopted animals go to good homes, the BLM limits adopters to assuming title to a maximum of four animals within a 12-month period and does not allow the transfer of title for at least 12 months from the adoption date. During the adoption period, the BLM conducts compliance inspections on animals while in private care prior to title transfer.
When the BLM is notified about a freeze-marked wild horse or burro being offered for sale, BLM officials identify the animal in the database to determine its disposition (adopted, titled, sold, transferred, or deceased). The agency investigates any possible violations of the Prohibited Acts and takes appropriate administrative or legal action. This could include returning the animal to BLM care, barring the adopter from participating in the adoption program in the future or referring the case to U.S. Attorneys for possible prosecution. If the animal is titled, BLM will provide a letter to the requestor confirming its status.
To adopt a wild horse or burro, the minimum requirements are:
1. Applicant must be at least 18 years old.
2. Adopted animal must remain in the United States until it is titled. (Occurs on its one-year adoption anniversary).
3. Applicant has no convictions of inhumane treatment of animals or for violation of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses & Burros Act.
4. Applicant must provide a facility with access to feed, water, and shelter. Facility refers to an enclosed area such as: corral, barn, stall, etc. NOTE: Facility approval is NOT BASED ON A PASTURE FENCE HEIGHT, but the HEIGHT OF THE FACILITY. You should not release an ungentled animal into a large open area, such as a pasture, as you may not be able to recapture the animal for training or to provide veterinary care. However, once the animal is gentled, you may release it into a pasture or similar area.
5. Basic facility requirements are: Minimum of 400 sq. feet of corral space per animal, i.e., 20’ x 20’. Suitable materials: pipe panels, wood posts, planks (min. 1.5” thick), horse fence (V Mesh or 2” x 4” square). Barbed wire and electrical materials will not be approved as part of the facility description 5-foot-high facility for yearling or gentled horses of any age.
6. Applicant must provide a stock or horse trailer with rear-swing gate and covered top. Provided the dividers are removed or are folded back, three-horse slant trailers are acceptable. No drop ramps or one-horse trailers. Two-horse trailers may be approved on a case-by-case basis. The trailer must be: 6-foot-high facility for an ungentled horse two years or older; or 4 ½-foot high facility for a burro of any age.
Additional requirements vary by state. In Florida, the area where the horse will be kept must have shade, which could be provided by a tree or a structure with a roof.
It is recommended you bring a double-stitched nylon webbed halter and a lead rope for each animal you adopt or purchase. BLM employees will place the halter on your animal and load the animal into your trailer. The lead rope should be about 12-20 feet long, made of cotton or nylon and able to hold a 1,000-pound animal.
The BLM event in Okeechobee will be open Thursday, Feb. 9 and Friday, Feb. 10 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 11 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Adoptions begin at 9 a.m. on Feb. 10.
A $125 fee applies at the time of adoption.
To encourage more adopters to give a wild horse or burro a good home, the Adoption Incentive Program provides up to $1,000 to adopt an untrained wild horse or burro from the BLM. The goal of the program is to reduce BLM’s recurring costs to care for unadopted and untrained wild horses and burros while helping to enable the BLM to confront a growing over-population of wild horses and burros on fragile public rangelands. The adopter must train the horse and keep the horse in good condition for one year before the title is issued. The Adoption Incentive Program allows qualified adopters to receive up to $1,000 up to 60 days after title date.
For more information on the Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program go to: www.blm.gov/programs/wild-horse-and-burro/adoptions-and-sales