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A Breakthrough for Wild Horses in the West?

Using ideas from PERC research, the BLM recently announced a new program to increase wild horse adoptions

  • Hannah Downey
  • News for Immediate Release
    April 11, 2019
    Contact: Hannah Downey, 406-587-9591,

    Caught between the overpopulation problem and laws that prevent culling, the Bureau of Land Management announced a new program to encourage more horse adoptions—an idea based on research from PERC scholars.

    In an effort to find good homes for the overabundance of wild horses and burros on public lands, the new program will pay qualified adopters $1,000 to help cover the expenses associated with caring for horses and burros. Program savings for the BLM could reach up to $49,000 per horse, a 98 percent saving for taxpayers.

    “Incentive payments for wild horse and burro adoptions have been researched by PERCscholars, and we are excited about how this program can benefit wild horses and burros, our rangelands, and taxpayers,” said Brian Yablonski, PERC‘s executive director. Casey Hammond, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management in the Department of the Interior, highlighted PERC‘s role at a public forum hosted by the Heritage Foundation: “We’re going to try to do economic incentives—I know PERC has done a lot of work on that in the past and that’s very helpful—but we’re going to try and encourage people to adopt.”

    “The BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program attempts to balance a host of difficult biological and intractable political problems,” explained Dr. Randy Rucker, a PERC senior fellow that worked on the original research. “The BLM’s recent announcement is an important step in moving towards viable solutions. Because the BLM’s estimated costs of holding a horse for its lifetime are $50,000, paying interested adopters $1,000 is money well spent. This new policy represents the sort of creative solution that will be required to control the taxpayer costs of this controversial program.”

    In an article published in the Deseret News last week, PERC researchers Hannah Downey and Tate Watkins explain how the incentive payments work.

    Click here to learn more about PERC’s input on the role incentive payments can play in promoting wild horse and burro conservation.

    Written By
    • Hannah Downey
      • Policy Director

      Hannah Downey is the policy director at PERC, helping to bring PERC ideas to the policy world.

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