Wild Horse Education

AIP (no) Changes

Wild horses caught in the slaughter pipeline

Yesterday, the BLM announced that they would make changes to the Adoption Incentive Program (AIP). The BLM press release (included at the bottom of this page) has a list of “so-called” changes. The only actual change is that BLM states they will do some form of a compliance check at 6 months after adoption instead of waiting a full year.

The proposed changes are actually not changes.

This is an exact replay of the moves made by the agency after it was proven that the “sales program” was a direct line to slaughter and thousands were going in that direction each year. The 2012 investigation uncovered over 1700 going to one kill-buyer alone. The agency proposed “non-changes” in the guise of change back then as well. In 2014 the agency claimed to make changes after the GAO found the allegations in the independent investigation were true.

Instead of actually shoring up the sales program and hiring compliance personnel the agency simply continued making exceptions in the “buddy club” and the sales program is as bad as it has always been.

The agency also came up with another way to “clear the pens” without caring about the danger they place wild horses in. In 2019 the Adoption Incentive Program (AIP) was created that puts $1,000 into the pocket of “adopters” and has shown it is a subsidy for slaughter that it appeared to be from the beginning. 

“If the agency were serious about protecting wild horses the immense cash layout for the AIP would end immediately and all that funding would be used to actually hire enough personnel to do compliance checks for a failing program that presented a risk of slaughter long before the AIP.” stated Laura Leigh, President of Wild Horse Education. “It is laughable that an agency that does not have enough hands to do adequate compliance checks now, simply says they will add oversight.”
“If they were serious about protection they would simply stop funding the AIP.”

“These supposed changes are exactly the same way they added oversight to the sales program in 2013.  Basically that simply means they wont release information on the program without a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and then wont answer your FOIA without you taking them to court. BLMs idea of oversight is simply to hide what they are doing; over and over, program to program.

“BLM actions demonstrate they care nothing about the welfare of wild horses from range to adoption or sale. Wild horses are dropping dead as BLM allows waters to be fenced off and turned off. BLM is simply clearing the pens and wild horses keep landing in kill pens. From A to Z BLMs actions demonstrate a lot more than their words.

When we see a directive that actually creates a single protection in the real world? we will let you know.”

(scroll down for BLM press release)

Learn More:

Let’s Talk (BLM Report and the NAS)

Centennial Burro Roundup

More Removals Plans Approved (WHE active legal actions)

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BLM Press Release:

The BLM announces additional protective steps
for wild horse and burro adoptions

 GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – The Bureau of Land Management today announced additional steps it will take to secure the health and safety of adopted wild horses and burros through the Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Incentive Program.

“We are committed to the health and safety of adopted wild horses and burros,” said BLM Deputy Director for Programs Nada Wolff Culver. “While the vast majority of adopters already adhere to our requirements to provide a good and caring home, the BLM is now taking additional steps to secure the health and safety of adopted animals. We will begin to make additional compliance visits post-adoption, bring more scrutiny to potential adopters, and increase warnings to sale barns about the risks of illegally selling wild horses and burros, among other steps.”

Before adopting a wild horse or burro, an individual must certify, under penalty of prosecution, that the individual will not knowingly sell or transfer the animal for slaughter or for processing into commercial products. 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 prohibits the transfer of title for at least 12 months from the adoption date. Furthermore, the BLM conducts compliance inspections on animals while in private care prior to title transfer.

The BLM plans to take the following actions to provide further oversight and protection of adopted wild horses and burros:

  • Continue to work with partners and other stakeholders to evaluate potential improvements to the Adoption Incentive Program, consistent with relevant laws and regulations.
  • Ensure all adoption applications and agreements clearly and consistently state that the adopter must provide humane care and require the adopter to certify that they will not knowingly sell or transfer ownership of an adopted animal to any person or organization that intends to resell, trade or give away the animals for slaughter or processing into commercial products.
  • Improve the screening of adoption applicants to better ensure that ineligible individuals are identified and excluded from participating in the adoption program, consistent with relevant laws and regulations.
  • Conduct an inspection of wild horses and burros adopted through the Adoption Incentive Program within six months of adoption date, rather than twelve months.
  • Have a veterinarian certify all title applications for wild horses and burros adopted through the Adoption Incentive Program in order to receive the incentive payment.
  • Increase posting of warning notices at livestock sale facilities, highlighting criminal penalties for illegally selling un-titled wild horses and burros.
  • Continue to refer cases to relevant U.S. Attorneys for potential violations under 18 USC 1001 for making false or misleading statements on adoption and title applications and agreements.
  • Evaluate changes to federal regulations that strengthen protections for adopted wild horses and burros.

Find additional details on the planned changes to the Adoption Incentive Program.

The Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program is a vital component of the BLM’s mission to manage and protect wild horses and burros as required by the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (Act) and other relevant laws and regulations. Since passage of the Act, the BLM has regularly gathered excess wild horses and burros from public lands to manage herd growth and address overpopulation. Current estimates suggest there are more than three times the number of wild horses and burros on public lands than is ecologically sustainable. Many of the oversized herds are negatively impacting native plant communities, wildlife, and important ecosystem functions.

The Adoption Incentive Program is a component of the existing Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program that has increased the number of animals placed into private care. To date, the Adoption Incentive Program has helped place more than 8,250 wild horses and burros into adoptive homes.

There are thousands of adoption success stories between a wild horse or burro and an adopter, ranging from beloved backyard companions to champion performance partnerships. Find some of their stories on the BLM’s Tales from the Trails blog.


 This year, we invite everyone to reimagine your public lands as we celebrate 75 years of the BLM’s stewardship and service to the American people. The BLM manages approximately 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations

Categories: Wild Horse Education