About a year
ago, Mary Terry -- a full-time professional and mother of four --
casually surfed into an on-line auction of wild horses and burros
run by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). But no sooner had she
clicked onto photographs of a forlorn but irresistible burro than
she joined the action. After fulfilling BLMs screening requirements,
Terry bid on the burro...Then another...And then another. Within
weeks, Terry and her husband brought all three burros back to their
New Hampshire home. Within months, four BLM horses followed. Terry
now gushes over her seven adoptees as her "best friends".
a visit to a web site suddenly transform Terry into an angel
of mercy for homeless horses and burros? "Seeing those
faces..." explains Terry. "I felt sorry for the ones
no one else had bid on. I adopted Humphrey, a 22 year-old horse.
Who else in their right mind would have wanted him?"
take home BLMs wild horses and burros for riding, jumping,
pulling carriages or working. Karen Malloy, BLMs coordinator
of Internet adoptions of wild horses and burros describes these
animals as "diamonds in the rough". "Once gentled,
they can do anything domestic animals can do," she adds.
Even then elderly Humphrey was not too old to change into a
calm pet. And with an average auction price of about $200, BLM
horses and burros are usually much cheaper than commercially
the Wild, Wild West
about 7,500 wild horses and burros are removed from their home
on the range, and placed in new homes by BLM. Without such measures,
these species, which have no natural predators and are protected
by law, could double their numbers in as little as five years.
The resulting over grazing would wreak ecological havoc on public
with BLM management, public lands harbor about 46,000 wild horses
and burros, "about 20,000 more than should be there,"
according to Malloy. BLM has not kept pace with the excess because
the Agency "only removes as many animals as the market
can now absorb," explains Malloy. BLM, however, believes
that demand for these animals would increase if more people
knew about their availability. Thats why the Agency is
reaching out to potential adopters via Internet and satellite
TV downlink auctions.
by Business Wire as "a first for a sophisticated, interactive
government web site," BLMs new adoption
web site regularly hosts Internet auctions of wild horses
and burros. Several weeks before each e-quine auction, the web
site posts a gallery of photos and descriptive information about
approximately 40 animals. Electronic bids on these animals are
then accepted during a two week long period that follows. The
highest bid for each horse and burro is posted in real time
on the adoption web site.
Like many other
Internet adopters, Terry confirms that without the BLMs new
adoption web site, she "just wouldnt have had enough
information or interest to pursue the adoptions." But the value
of the web site extends far beyond the almost 100 adoptions it has
generated in 5 Internet adoptions held since the sites May
1998 debut. Attracting over 230,000 visitors so far, the site also
fans interest in live auctions that are regularly held at BLMs
permanent holding facilities.
TV Downlink Auctions
also expanding its search for homes for wild horses and burros
through nationally televised satellite downlink auctions. Held
in August 1999, the first of these auctions was preceded by
postings of photos and descriptions of available animals on
BLMs wild horse and burro
web site. During the auction that followed, pre-taped footage
of horses and burros located in Nevada was fed, along with live
footage of an auctioneer located in Texas, to homes and other
locations equipped with satellite dishes.
satellite feeds really show how wild the animals are, and how
they move -- whether they trot smoothly, whether they rear and
buck," observes Melanie Jackson, who adopted a horse during
the auction. A total of 87 pairs, geldings and studs were placed
to auction participants who phoned in bids from all over the
nation, and picked-up animals from several geographically distributed
offering all the bells and whistles of the electronic age, hi-tech
horse and burro auctions do not lack for the human touch. "I
try to help adopters get the right kind of horse for their needs;
part of my job is being a match-maker," explains Malloy.
"If a big person needs a big horse, Ill help them
find one. If a horse is high strung, Ill tell them."
bidders on Internet or satellite adoptions can, without penalty,
decline to adopt animals during an auction or when they meet
animals at pick-up time. "We want to place animals with
adopters who really want them," assures Malloy.
Internet and satellite auctions are scheduled for January 2000.
The January Internet auction will feature pintos, Kigers (Spanish
blood), halter trained and wild fire survivors.
in BLM horse and burro auctions are screened to ensure that
they are equipped to pick up adopted animals from BLM facilities,
and to shelter and care for animals. Minimum bids start at $125.00.
adoptions or call 1-800-370-3936.
adoptions or call 1-800-417-9647.
Lily Whiteman, National Partnership for Reinventing Government,
750-17th St., NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20006;
(202) 694-0086 or firstname.lastname@example.org.