BLM reins in wild horse sales

BLM reins in wild horses

Dave Philipps – The Gazette

Under new rules buyers like Tom Davis will no longer be able to purchase hundreds of wild horses at a timeRead more:

Under new rules buyers like Tom Davis will no longer be able to purchase hundreds of wild horses at a time

The Bureau of Land Management announced Friday it has severely restricted sales of protected wild horses to guard against mustangs being resold to slaughter.

The changes come in response to an investigation by the non-profit news organization ProPublica, published in The Gazette in September, that questioned the fate of animals sold to a San Luis Valley livestock hauler named Tom Davis who bought more than 1,700 horses through the program since 2009.

Davis maintains he found the animals what he called “good homes,” but wild-horse advocates fear they ended up in Mexican slaughterhouses.

An estimated 35,000 wild horses roam public lands in the West. Another 47,000 live in BLM corrals and pastures. The BLM has been unable to find enough people to adopt the wild horses in its care and has used its sale program to unload thousands of unwanted horses for $10 each.

Buyers of wild horses are not allowed to resell them to slaughter, but for years the BLM did little to check that buyers kept their word.

Now, buyers will be allowed to purchase only four horses every six months unless they have special approval from top BLM officials. Buyers also must tell the BLM where agents can find the horses for six months after the purchase.

“Today’s announcement marks another step forward in our agency’s steady improvement in ensuring the health and humane treatment of wild horses and burros, both on and off the range,” said BLM Acting Director Mike Pool.

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar outlined the reforms in December during an exclusive interview with The Gazette.

The new policy also requires that buyers ship horses from BLM corals themselves. In the past the BLM would truck more than 20 horses at no charge. Davis was able to repeatedly pay about $330 per load of horses the BLM spent more than $4,000 to ship.

The ProPublica report prompted the BLM to open an investigation into Davis in June.

The investigation was taken over by the Interior Department’s independent Inspector General in October when it became clear that people in the agency could come under scrutiny too. In December The Gazette was contacted by a man who said he is an agent with “a federal law enforcement agency” who said the agency, which he would not identify, was also investigating possible wrong-doing by Davis. As a result of the report, Davis is also under investigation by the district attorney in Alamosa for breaking Colorado brand inspectionlaws.

Wild horse welfare advocates  on Friday lauded the reforms.

“Some of these things seem like no brainers, and it doesn’t address fundamental issues,” said Laura Leigh, founder of Nevada-based Wild Horse Education. “But this is the beginning of change. If we can show we can make positive changes that make sense, we can move on from there.”

Read more:

AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • Marcia

    I hope the changes help. Too often in the past laws and policies had many loopholes, little oversight, and no will to enforce so business could continue as usual. The horses need a break from Ken Salazar’s and various government agencies’ mismanagement and corruption. Help for the wolves and bison should come also.

    January 5, 2013
  • John

    Amen to Marcia’s comments,I absolutely cannot fathom how these people can think they have any right to ANY free wild animal, what arrogance. Beware, special approval smells like LOOPHOLE, watch closely closely

    January 5, 2013
  • TC Graves

    Its about damn time! The BLM has NOT been good stewards to our wild herds. They have rid themselves of horses to any idiot who has a few dollars in their pockets and when those idiots can’t either care for them nor train them they are sold or given to slaughter. Sad and unacceptable! When are the American people going to smarten up and demand accountability ? Most horse people already know what’s been going on, its about time we educate the public about what has been going on and DEMAND Major CHANGES. The BLM has FAILED ON MANY FRONTS, the way they round up horses, the way they manage the herds, the way they adopt them out and the way they handle these equines is absolutely horrific. My hatts off to those who are trying to seek change. When its wrong, its wrong. That man whose been trucking all those animals to slaughter needs to be in jail and fined harshly for his actions and the BLM needs a whole new crew because they have been WRONG too for allowing this to happen. Don’t tell me they didn’t know what was going on..of course they did… I’m HOT over this and so should everyone else. Wake up people, speak up people, this can not go on.

    January 5, 2013
  • It’s about time WE THE PEOPLE demand accountability from the BLM! They have operated like a private corporation for the last 5 years – and costing the taxpayers over $78MILLION “warehousing” OUR wild horses and serving the demands of corporations who want to do fracking and mining, and/or the ranchers who want to run their cattle on OUR PUBLIC LAND for cheap feed – and it destroys the environment on top of everything else! Thank God for people like Laura who has put her own personal life on hold and put all her time in effort to bring this crap to light and save OUR WILD HORSES before they are completely wiped out!

    January 5, 2013
  • roberta

    It’s WAY overdue!!! Things should’ve been handled better years ago. No one should be allowed to take these animals without making sure that they WILL be able to handle them and that they ARE going to provide a home where they are going to be safe. There’s no logical reason why these things have been overlooked for so long!!!

    January 5, 2013
  • Teresa Heaney

    Thank you to all those horse lovers who are dedicating so much effort to helping the wild horses of North America. Here in Canada they have decimated the herds as well for the ranchers and the politicians only respond with form letters. The fight for horse protection must continue, for the wild and the unfortunate thousands sent to slaughter by the greedy.

    January 6, 2013
  • Paula Denmon

    Interestingly. I watched a documentary called “Gasland” today. I hope others will see it too. Certain instructions to the BLM came from Chaney many years ago to open more land for oil/gas; no concern for the horses or other wild life. I believe this was transitional in not caring what happened to them as long as the industrial uses had top billing. And cattle a close 2nd. But when the public cares, changes can be made. The recent win by Laura Leigh and Attorney Gordon Cohen in court for a TRO to stop the inhumane treatment during the Owyhee Stampede will surely bring more light to the issue. We all need to be spreading the word far and wide. Thanks for the posting.

    January 6, 2013