The Interior Department is always looking for homes for wild horses and burros rounded up on ranges in the western United States.
The department has scheduled adoption events at many locations across the country each year as part of its Wild Horse and Burro Adoption program, which started in 1973, according to Martha M. Malik, public affairs specialist with the Milwaukee field office of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.
One of those events is from August 8 through August 10 at Sarge’s Sale Arena in Lima (Delphos), Ohio. For just $125, the public can adopt a wild horse or burro. The price drops to just $25 for any horse or burro that is three years old or more.
The animals are routinely rounded up by land and helicopter in California, Wyoming, Nevada, and other western states, Malik told The Press last week.
With the slow economy, the Interior Department this year has over 30,000 wild horses and burros available for adoption, twice the normal number.
“Since June, there have been more than 30,000 animals removed from long term holding facilities that are up for adoption. We’re not adopting animals like we used to because the economy is really bad,” said Malik. “On average, 18 to 40 wild horses and burros are adopted at each event across the country every year. We try to go back to places where we know we have facilities to hold the animals. That’s what attracted us to Sarge’s Sale Arena, which has a large holding facility.”
Since the program began, more than 200,000 horses and burros that have been adopted.
The animals have been examined by veterinarians, vaccinated, de-wormed and have had their blood tested, said Malik.
The animals are wild and have to be “gentled,” said Malik.
“They haven’t had a lot of human contact,” said Malik. “Some might warm up a little bit more than others. You have to take time and be patient with them because they’ve been roaming wild and free on the ranges. They have to become used to your environment. Sometimes they may not warm up to you as quickly as you want, but once you build a relationship, they settle down.”
The events draw people who are interested in adopting wild horses for a variety of reasons, said Malik.
“Every individual is different. They may want to adopt a wild horse to have as a companion for a horse they already own. They also are used in state fairs and for trail riding,” she said.
Animals that are not adopted at an event are transported to the next event. Malik said they are never destroyed.
“The beauty of our program is that if you adopt a horse or burro from us, but you later feel that it’s overwhelming, you can’t handle it, or the commitment isn’t there, we are more than willing to take them back because we want them to get a good home rather than be in a place where they’re not taken care of properly,” said Malik.
The time and effort it takes to tame the animals, she said, is well worth the wait, she said.
“Once you adopt one, most of the time, you’ll adopt another one,” she added. “It’s really a rewarding experience. You feel a sense of accomplishment knowing you are providing this animal with love, tender care and a home.”
Adoptions begin on Friday, Aug. 8, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Sarge’s Sale Arena, 5970 Definance Trail, located north of State Route 309, between Lima and Delphos. The event continues on Saturday, Aug. 9, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 10, from 8 a.m. to Noon.
For more information, call the Bureau of Land Management’s Milwaukee Field Office at 1-800-293-1781, or Malik at 414-916-4408. Learn more about the event at www.wildhorseandburro.blm.gov.