Incentives hoping to spur adoptions of wild horses, burros from north of Elm Creek – Kearney Hub

ELM CREEK A woman recently came to the U.S. Bureau of Land Managements Wild Horse and Burro Corrals north of Elm Creek to adopt a 5-year-old gelding from a federal range in Oregon.

She had seen the horse on an online adoption website.

When she arrived, she learned a lesson in realistic expectations from Joe Stratton, who has been with BLM 28 years, including the last 21 supervising the bureaus Elm Creek off-range location.

I told her hes pretty wild, Stratton said, after he asked her some questions and determined the womans experience with horses wasnt adequate to train a wild horse.

I showed her some yearling geldings. It went from the 5-year-old running circles around a pen by himself to having yearlings come up to her, he said, which convinced the woman to take one of the younger horses home.

When youre adopting off the internet, you cant really see that ... if hes really wild and you cant touch him. Thats a whole different level of training, Stratton added.

People interested in adopting a wild horse or burro can get a lot of information and an application form at

Then they can come to the BLM site a few miles north of Elm Creek on Highway 183 to learn more and see the horses and burros. Stratton said they can drive a road around the pens and make arrangements with the staff to get a closer look.

He added that its important to make an appointment by calling 308-856-4498 to be sure staff can be there at a given time or day 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday especially if a potential adopter intends to bring a trailer with the expectation of taking a horse or burro home that day.

In the last couple of years, weve been over 100, the 110 to 120 range, Stratton said about annual adoptions.

He hopes a current incentive program will help get more animals into forever homes.

The process starts by paying a $25 adoption fee per untrained horse or burro and giving the federal agency bank information for direct deposits. Stratton said an approved adopter gets a $500 deposit within 60 days of the adoption and another $500 within 60 days of receiving title to the animal a year later.

Its about trying to get you the money early in the process and then the rest at the end of the year, he said, with the incentive available for up to four animals per adopter per year.

At the end of the year, BLM sends the adopter an application for the title that must be signed by the owner and an animal health professional.

Stratton said the incentive program doesnt apply to someone who wants a bill of sale when a horse is loaded into a trailer and taken home from a BLM adoption site.

BLM also partners with the Mustang Heritage Foundation on a Trainer Incentive Program.

Stratton explained that trainers from many states halter break wild horses before they are adopted and are paid $1,000 per horse by the foundation.

The adoption fee for a halter-broke horse is $125.

Some BLM resting-adoption sites similar to Elm Creek all but two are in western and Great Plains states and satellite locations farther east have designated adoption days and/or special events. Elm Creek is among the sites with adoptions only by appointment.

Stratton said out-of-state adopters have come to Elm Creek from Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Colorado.

Adopting a wild horse is not like selecting a new car because it looks good and you like the color, Stratton said. You have to evaluate yourself and what you can handle ... pick the first one or one of the other ones that walk up to you. Thats one step ahead versus one that stays away.

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Incentives hoping to spur adoptions of wild horses, burros from north of Elm Creek - Kearney Hub

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