Fish & Wildlife Service Spending $250,000 to Launder Nevada Wild Horses into Slaughter Pipeline, Advocates Charge
Reno, NV…. The government shutdown may be preventing many operations, including full staffing of federal wild horse and burro holding facilities, but it has not stopped officials at the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in northern Nevada from shipping 108 wild horses to a slaughter middleman in Mississippi. The horses are among the 400 captured off refuge lands in a September helicopter roundup. They are being held and processed in corrals at the refuge, which the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has declared off-limits to public observation.
At a federal court hearing in Reno yesterday, Sheldon officials acknowledged that, although the government shutdown “forced” them to cancel a public observation of the captured horses, they were able to recall furloughed workers from five different refuges to process horses and send them to Stan Palmer of J &S Associates in Mississippi. Palmer is one of three of Sheldon’s approved “adoption contractors” and the only one with no website, no plan to adopt out the horses and an inability to account for the whereabouts of most of the 262 horses shipped to him from the Sheldon Refuge between 2010 and 2012. At least 82 of those horses were sold at a slaughter auction.
The FWS will pay Palmer over $1000 per horse – or a total of more than $250,000 in taxpayer funds – to take approximately 240 of the 400 captured horses, despite the agency’s own own internal investigation that showed wild horses previously sent to Palmer had ended up in the slaughter pipeline. The plan has sparked public outrage — to date, over 15,000 citizens have called, emailed and faxed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell urging her to prevent her FWS service from turning horses over to Stan Palmer.
“The government’s use of our tax dollars to launder wild horses captured from federal lands into the slaughter pipeline is outrageous,” said Neda DeMayo, President of Return to Freedom and founder of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC). “Equally outrageous is the Fish and Wildlife Service’s use of the government shutdown as an opportunity to dispose of these cherished wild horses out of public view.”