Big News for Misty of Chincoteague Fans: The Government Will Pay You to Adopt a Wild Mustang

The annual pony swim across Assateague Channel
Image: AP

The Bureau of Land Management will pay you $1,000—half now, half after a year of responsible care-taking—to adopt a wild mustang. Fans of the classic 1947 children’s novel Misty of Chincoteague: This is your shot!

The New York Times reported on the recently launched program:

From drop-down menus, you can choose gender, color and age: a 4-year-old chestnut mare, for example, or a 9-year-old gray gelding. Some horses have no training, while others might be “gentled,” with experience being handled.

This is Wild Horses Online, part of the federal Bureau of Land Management’s online adoption service. Starting this month, the bureau is trying to make wild mustang adoptions more attractive by paying $1,000 to those who take in the animals, which are gathered up from public land in the western United States as part of efforts to manage the population.

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Of course, these are wild mustangs from out west—not ponies from the barrier islands of Virginia. Public lands can only sustain so many wild horses, leaving the Bureau of Land Management with a ongoing problem. And not everybody likes adoption as a solution:

The American Wild Horse Campaign, an advocacy group, said in a statement criticizing the bureaus’s new adoption program that the agency should employ other population control measures, such as fertility methods. “The B.L.M. cannot adopt its way out of the situation it faces with the stockpiling of 50,000 horses in holding facilities,” said Suzanne Roy, the group’s executive director.

Nevertheless, the news still conjures all those sixth grade fantasies of the wind rushing through your hair. Now you just have to figure out, uh, how in the hell you would actually keep a wild mustang.

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