The Interior Department has reduced the price of wild animals under its Adopt-a-Horse program to try to persuade more Americans to buy them.

Homes are being sought for the animals because they trample western rangelands in search of food and face starvation as a result of overpopulation.

A government horse now can be adopted for $125 and a burro for $75. The costs once ranged up to $215 for horses and $140 for burros.

"We are reducing the charges because the price wasn't competitive," said bureau spokesman Haywood Meeks. "Someone could go down the road and buy the animals cheaper."

The Bureau of Land Management currently has 2,500 captured animals available for purchase under the 10-year-old program. Their care and feeding is costing taxpayers about $5,000 a day, and Congress has ordered that 17,000 more animals be removed from public lands in the coming year.

Many of the animals are corralled at centers near public lands in California, Nevada and Wyoming. There also are centers near capture sites in Arizona, Idaho and Oregon.

But some animals have been moved to centers in Texas, Pennsylvania and Tennessee and there are temporary sites in other locations so that buyers will not have to transport the animals long distances. The bureau is planning a publicity campaign to increase horse adoptions east of the Mississippi River.