By purest coincidence, Tucker Carlson had a segment on Fox New last night about the federal government’s wild horse fiasco (I didn’t see it), a topic I’ve had on the Ethics Alarms issue runway for the better part of a month.
The Bureau of Land Management is charged with the care of the nation’s wild horses and burros. These once numbered in the millions in North America, but after the Western settlement and the diminishing of the open range after the 19 century, the beasts were widely hunted and turned into fertilizer and dog food. By 1971, when they were finally given protection by law, there were fewer than 20,000 left. But freed from predators (like man) wild horse herds increase by about 20% a year. The herds started growing faster than the government had planned or budgeted for.
About 3,500 mustangs and burros a year are rounded up and resettled into a network of government storage pastures and corrals known the holding system. The 51,000 animals in the system cost taxpayers $60 million a year, leaving little in the budget to protect the rest of the wild mustangs running free. Legislators and regulators are afraid of the wrath of PETA and voters who would he horrified at the government killing these symbols of the old West and wild America, so the country is stuck. What to do?
Well, some genius came up with the Adoption Incentive Program in 2019, which was supposed to move wild mustangs and burros out of government corrals into what dog rescue groups call “forever homes.” Horse-lovers were paid a cool $1,000 for each equine friend they adopted, a good deal for Uncle Sam, who has to pay an average of $24,000 during the lifetime of each wild horse. Thousands of alleged wild horse enthusiasts signed up to get their horses and checks. The number of horses leaving the holding system more than doubled. The Bureau of Land Management pronounced it “a win for all involved” that was helping “animals find homes with families who will care for and enjoy them for years to come.”
OK, now, you’re smart. What is the obvious flaw in this plan? Come on. Fredo Corleone could figure it out with a little effort.