Colorado sheriff opens wild horse investigation

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The Gazette, Dave Phillips, May 8, 2013

images-4After months of false starts, state authorities have opened a formal criminal investigation into Tom Davis, a southern Colorado wild horse buyer who admitted to breaking state laws while shipping hundreds of federally protected wild horses to an unknown fate out of state.

Last week, the Conejos County Sheriff’s Office opened the investigation at the request of state brand commissioner Chris Whitney, who said Davis, of La Jara, admitted to the commissioner that he broke brand laws.

A ProPublica report published in The Gazette in September detailed how Davis, a proponent of horse slaughter, purchased truckloads of protected wild horses from the Bureau of Land Management. Davis said he then shipped the horses to what he called ‘good homes ‘ all over the country. None of the horses has been accounted for. Wild horse advocates believe they illegally went to slaughter. Davis denies this.

Colorado law requires a state brand inspection when livestock is sold or shipped more than 75 miles. Brand records show Davis received more than 1,700 horses from the BLM, but shipped only 765. None of the horses is in his possession, meaning almost 1,000 were shipped or sold without an inspection.

Davis admitted as much to ProPublica in 2012, saying he did not want brand inspectors to know where the horses were going. When the reporter suggested that was illegal, Davis replied, ‘Since when is anything in this country done legal? ‘

He could not be reached for comment last week.

Each violation of the brand law is misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

After the ProPublica report, state agencies dithered, unsure how to enforce the law. The brand commissioner thought it was the job of the district attorney in Alamosa. The district attorney said it was not. Nothing happened with the case until a Gazette inquiry in early April.

After being contacted by The Gazette, the district attorney, David Mahonee, referred the case to the Conejos County Sheriff, where it was seemingly forgotten again.

CONTINUED – Read more at the Gazette




AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
7 Comments
  • Margaret

    Good ole boy Ken. EVERYONE is going to deny EVERYTHING to protect him. They aren’t going to a thing to Tom Davis because if he goes down he’ll take every ryone with him. And you can’t have an Obama selectee go to prison.

    I’m truly disgusted by the actions of BLM. And Tom Davis acts like nothing will stick to his backside.

    It’s reprehensible and irresponsible that an agency who is suppose to be there protecting the horses is so far out of touch with reality. It should be a wake up call to Obama that things in Washington are not okay. That it’s time to clean house regardless what ranchers want.

    It’s for the good of all not the one or two.

    May 8, 2013
  • Daryl

    Oh this is a start, to much of us talking and some one had to finally say well I guess we have to have an investion of some kind, this is going to be a fight for sure, that is a lot of $1000.00 fines he will be up for, and the time of jail he will be spending he may not make it out in time to die free. We need to keep up with all of this, and fight really hard for those horses who have suffered at his hands all those years….no good SOB, yes his neighbor down the road needs to be brought up on charges too…May be some justice for the Wild horses yet/

    May 8, 2013
  • Mary Anne Gardner

    People should know what s going on!! Please fight for the horses we are their voices! GOOD LUCK!!!

    May 9, 2013
  • shirley mix

    Hope he goes to prison.

    May 9, 2013
  • Ranching Cowgirl

    Colorado Brand Commissioner Chris Whitney is a GOOD man. I have no doubt that he will do his very best to make sure the laws are followed. I know our Brand Commissioner by the work he has done for me, and I as a anti horse slaughter cowgirl, I trust Chris Whitney to do his best. I have never met him in person but he had my back when I sold my cattle to a idiot…..It is sad that the horses were killed that makes me sick. Slaughter of horses is wrong they are NOT cattle… This is a money driven issue….Our Government is corrupt and there are some really stupid people out there.

    This is a small start to a big problem. I know we have a FEW honest people in Colorado government that will do their best; and Chris Whitney is one of the few with some real balls. I for one am glad to have Brand Commissioner Chris Whitney involved.

    May 9, 2013
  • I am so glad I happened to find this site. I can add my opinion to the mistreatment of our Beautiful Animals.

    May 9, 2013
  • Arlene

    He should be considered as a Horse thief, they hang them dont they?????

    May 9, 2013