Rounded up on the range, ready for adoption

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Rounded up on the range, ready for adoption

By Simone Del Rosario. CREATED May 17, 2013

SONOITA, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Twenty-five wild horses and 10 burros rounded up from several western states are in Sonoita this weekend for a Bureau of Land Management adoption event. 

But it hasn't been easy finding them homes. 

Bill Belt came by the fairgrounds to look at the stock -- but he's just looking. When asked if he plans to adopt this weekend, his simple answer: No.

"I've got too many horses already," he said. 

The wild horses and burros are gathered up from the open range to control the herd population. But the number of horses under BLM care has skyrocketed, while adoptions continue to go down. Currently, BLM is holding around 50,000 horses. 

"It costs money to keep them going," said Roger Oyler from BLM. "Roughly half of our budget goes to feeding all the horses we're holding."

So BLM started selling horses that no one adopted for as little as $10. One rancher in Colorado took full advantage: He bought around 1,700 horses since 2009. 

BLM tells us the state of Colorado is now investigating the rancher, since the horses are nowhere to be found. Horse advocate groups like Wild Horse Education fear the horses may have been sold to slaughter. 

To keep horses out of the hands of kill buyers, BLM had to change their rules. Now, you cannot buy more than four horses or burros within a six-month period without prior approval. 

But Brittani Hamons has her eye on just one. 

"She's just sweet; there's something about her that I like," Hamons said of a filly she petted. 

For a $125 adoption fee, Hamons could bring that filly home this weekend.