Dozens of wild horses and burros gathered from roaming herds in the western United States will be put up for adoption next weekend in Burbank.
Run by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the adoptions reflect an effort to curb overpopulation and maintain ecological balance on public range lands in California and Nevada. Since the program began in 1973, it has placed more than 175,000 horses with private owners across the country.
But the "Adopt-a-Horse or Burro" program has been criticized by animal rights groups that contend that the government has historically failed to protect the animals from meat-packing companies. In 1998, the controversy prompted the cancellation of an adoption event planned for Pierce College in Woodland Hills.
Officials have taken steps to ensure the animals are placed in safe homes, including keeping the title to the animal for a year after adoption and conducting home visits to see that it is being cared for properly.
About 100 mustangs and 30 burros will be brought to the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, where they will be available for viewing from noon to 5 p.m. Friday and at 7 a.m. next Saturday.
Adoptions will be conducted by competitive bid Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m., with registration beginning at 8 a.m. The minimum bid is $125 per animal.
Animals not chosen will be available for adoption later that day and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 26, Adopters must be at least 18 years old and have adequate facilities to keep the animal.
The equestrian center is located at 480 Riverside Drive in Burbank. For more information, call Doran Sanchez at the Bureau of Land Management, (909) 697-5220.