MURRAY — It was during mid-March 2020 that a wild horse and burro adoption event hosted by the Federal Bureau of Land Management came to the Cherry Expo Center on the Murray State University, just as something called COVID-19 was becoming a nationwide issue.
The event did continue as scheduled and actually did reach its conclusion as it was scheduled for three days. It was the last actual public event in Murray and Calloway County for about two months as the entire community shut down because of the coronavirus.
Now, with the pandemic seemingly under control locally, and with a vaccine available to combat the disease, events such as these are starting to dot the landscape once again. And perhaps fittingly, the Bureau is returning this weekend to Murray State to give residents a chance to adopt one of these creatures.
Sessions are scheduled for today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, again at the Cherry Expo Center on College Farm Road, across from Calloway County High School.
On its website, the Bureau said that it created the Wild Horse and Burro Program to implement the Wild-Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, passed by Congress in 1971. Broadly, the law declares wild horses and burros to be “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West” and stipulates that the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service have the responsibility to manage and protect herds in their respective jurisdictions within areas where wild horses and burros were found roaming in 1971.
To maintain wild horses and burros in good condition and protect the health of public lands, the BLM said that it must manage the population growth of wild horse and burro herds. Without natural population controls, such as predation, herds can increase at a rate of up to 20 percent annually, doubling in size in just four to five years, if not appropriately managed. Population control must be implemented to protect scarce and fragile resources in the arid West and ensure healthy animals, the BLM said.
To carry out this mission, the BLM controls herd growth through the application of fertility measures, such as birth control, and through the periodic removals of excess animals and the placement of those animals into private care.
Wild, free-roaming wild horses can be found on public lands across 10 western states. Wild burros roam rangeland in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Oregon.
The idea behind the adoption session is finding these horses and burros new homes. The BLM said that more than 60 animals are being brought to Murray this weekend.
Adoption and purchase is $25 per animal. The BLM also offers a program where owners can earn up to $1,000 when adopting an untrained wild horse or burro.
More information is available at www.BLM.gov/whb.