Idaho horse enthusiasts have a chance at adopting a wild horse of their own.
The Bureau of Land Management hosts multiple adoption events throughout the year in the state of Idaho.
The BLM will be hosting an adoption event in Challis, Idaho Jan 31 through Saturday Feb. 1. Residents will be able to participate in a silent bid auction for the wild horses. The event will be at the Challis Off-Range Wild Horse Corral Facility, just south of Challis.
Local horse owner, Cheri Thaut, said that she and her daughter Sarah have raised a few wild horses of their own, and she said that training a wild horse is a worthwhile experience.
“It's a very good experience for horse owners who want a challenge,” Ms. Thaut said. “You do have to be set up for them though, I'd suggest having a proper area and they tend to be a lot easier to handle in the spring.”
Ms. Thaut said that her daughter loves their mustang, she said that they recently adopted a wild horse at an adoption event that was hosted in Coeur d'Alene last year.
“Once you train them and get them to trust you they will be loyal to you,” Ms. Thaut said. “They can be scary, they don't know anything about us and they have been known to bite.”
Sarah has recently started barrel raced with her wild mustang Firefly and has even rode her horse in the Paul Bunyan Days parade.
The protection of wild horses was mandated by Congress in 1971. Idaho is one out of 10 western states that has herd areas that were specially set aside by the BLM.
Heather Tiel-Nelson, the public affair specialist for the Idaho Falls District BLM, said that there are six herd management areas in Idaho.
She said that on average between 700 to 1000 wild horses will live on each of these areas and that the BLM regularly has to pull horses from the areas and prepare them for adoption in order to prevent over crowding.
“Herd sizes can double fast and they can eat themselves out of hearth and home,” Ms. Tiel-Nelson said. “When herd levels grow beyond management abilities, that's when they decide to gather horses for adoption.”
She said that the wild horses are vaccinated and de-wormed before they are put up for adoption.
Ms. Tiel-Nelson said that Idaho has been able to do a good job at keeping herd numbers at a manageable level. She said that there is an estimated 88,000 wild horses spread out in the range areas in the western United States.
“A lot of the other states have an abundance of wild horses, a lot more than what Idaho is dealing with. To put into perspective how well managed Idaho's wild horse population is, half of that 88,000 is in Nevada alone,” Ms. Tiel-Nelson said.
She said that caring for the 88,000 wild horses costs the Federal Government approximately $48 million each year.
Ms. Tiel-Nelson said there are some incentives for those who adopt a wild horse. Currently the BLM has an Adoption Incentive Program where qualified adopters are eligible to receive $500 within 60 days of the adoption date and an additional $500 is payed out withing 60 days of titling the animal, which usually occurs a year after the adoption date.
She said that those who qualify for the incentive must have a proper facility for a wild horse and that the person adopting must be at least 18 years old and never has been convicted of an animal cruelty charges.
The Challis adoption event will run from 9 a.m to 4 p.m each day and there will be training demonstrations from 10 a.m to 11 a.m on Friday Jan 31.
Adoptions are first come first served.
Ms. Tiel-Nelson said that those who want to adopt a wild horse but can't make it to Challis will have another opportunity to adopt come June 2020.
She said that the biggest adoption event in the northwest will be from June 25 to the 28 at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds in Coeur d'Alene.
“It's a big one so I highly suggest checking out the CDA adoption event if you are interested in adopting a wild horse,” Ms. Tiel-Nelson said.
For more information on wild horses in Idaho, or for more guidelines and requirements for adoption contact Ms. Tiel-Nelson at 208-736-2352 or contact the BLM at 1-866-468-7826.