In 2019, the Bureau of Land Management started paying people up to $1,000 to adopt wild horses being kept in holding pens.
A New York Times report said some people took that money, then auctioned off their horses to make even more profit, even though they agreed to take care of the animals. And some of those horses may have ended up in slaughterhouses.
“Some people were just taking the $1,000 per her and then herding them themselves and selling them to slaughterhouses,” said Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev. “That’s the opposite of the intent of the program.”
Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign, said the group’s worst fears were realized under the program, which the organization opposed from the start.
“Our initial thoughts were that this would be a disaster for wild horses and burros because it would attract adopters who either lacked the skills or intent to provide adequate care,” she told State of Nevada.
Nevada has the nation's largest wild horse population, and some of the horses captured under the program came from roundups in the state.
Titus said she favors a law that prohibits slaughtering horses for human consumption and to better use birth control to manage wild horse heards.
"Of all the issues we get letters on, animal issues are right up there at the top," she said, "and wild horses on top of that list."
In a statement, the BLM said: "The BLM cares about the health, safety, and wellbeing of adopted animals. It is illegal to adopt a wild horse or burro with the intent of selling or transferring the animal for slaughter or for processing into commercial products.
"To ensure adopted animals go to good homes, the BLM limits adopters to titling a maximum of 4 animals within a 12-month period, retains title of ownership for at least 12 months from adoption date, and may conduct compliance inspections on untitled animals while in private care."
Dina Titus, congresswoman, D-Nev.; Suzanne Roy, executive director, American Wild Horse Campaign
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