Horse advocates fear slaughter of Nevada mustangs


Las Vegas Review-Journal

Posted: Jan. 3, 2013

SAVING-AMERICAS-HORSES-WildStallion400x500_photo-credit-KatiaLouise2-240x300RENO – State agriculture officials have discussed ways to muster support for the slaughter of stray horses in Nevada, and the discussions stirred protests among advocates for the free-roaming animals.

Wild horse supporters plan a rally at the state Capitol on Friday to urge Gov. Brian Sandoval to call off next week’s scheduled auction of 41 wild mustangs they fear will end up at a slaughterhouse.

“The people who frequent these auctions are kill buyers,” said Carrol Abel, director of the Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund. “There is no reason these horses need to go out and be exposed to the slaughterhouse line.”

Newly disclosed state records show members of the state Board of Agriculture have discussed ways to build public support for slaughtering stray horses that roam the foothills southeast of Reno.

The board discussions more than a year ago were prompted by concerns about the safety of motorists on state highways where the animals increasingly are struck and killed.

Nevada is home to about half of all free-roaming horses in the West.

The mustangs in the Virginia Range are considered state property and do not enjoy the same protections as those on adjoining federal lands under the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro and Preservation Act.

Minutes of a meeting of the state agriculture board in late 2011 make it clear that Agriculture Director Jim Barbee and board members are sensitive to the political and emotional ramifications of selling the animals for slaughter.

In fact, one member who also serves on a federal advisory panel on wild horses suggested in December 2011 they might avoid some regulatory roadblocks by trying to place any new slaughterhouse on U.S. tribal lands, according to the minutes of the meeting on Dec. 6, 2011.

“Think looking at putting facilities on Indian reservations, which takes Legislature and everybody out of the equation,” said Dr. Boyd Spratling, an Elko County veterinarian and co-chairman of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management advisory board, according to the minutes.

Charlie Frey, another board member, asked Barbee whether he discussed with Sandoval the possible slaughter of horses and whether he thought the public perception of slaughter had changed.

“I think it is something for the general public to consider in view that overseas some of that meat is (a) real good delicacy,” Frey said, according to the minutes.

Wild horse advocates who requested the minutes from the Agriculture Department and provided a copy to The Associated Press plan to deliver more than 1,500 letters to Sandoval on Friday urging him to stop removing the horses from the range. They specifically want him to cancel the scheduled sale of 41 Virginia Range horses at an auction in Fallon on Wednesday.

Sandoval’s press secretary Mary Sarah Kinner did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Neither did Spratling or Frey.

More than three dozen horses have been hit since summer on three rural highways in Lyon and Storey counties around Silver Springs and Virginia City.

“We are damn lucky nobody has gotten killed,” board member Ramona Morrison said Thursday.

Barbee said to his knowledge, no Nevada horses sold in previous auctions have gone to slaughter, but he acknowledged there are no rules or regulation prohibiting that from happening with regard to state strays or feral horses.

“Most of them are bought by advocate groups,” Barbee said. “These are not wild horses under federal jurisdiction. These are feral or stray horses. You’ve got to understand the only reason we are picking up horses is the public safety issue.”

Until this summer, the state made the horses available to advocacy groups for purchase before proceeding to public auction. But Barbee said that policy was suspended in August after one group re-released the animals to the range in violation of the sales agreement.

Barbee downplayed the possibility of a slaughter facility being built in Nevada and said he was not aware of anyone considering such action.

He said the matter came up because Congress had removed from an annual appropriation bill a mechanism that effectively prohibited any horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. by withholding money required to fund USDA inspections required for such a facility to operate legally.

“Horse slaughter has never been technically illegal in the U.S.,” Barbee said.

A New Mexico meat company has applied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a permit to resume domestic horse slaughter for food for the first time in five years.

AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • BlessUsAll

    If horse advocates in Nevada are now asking the state to call off the planned auction out of fear that the 41 horses will go to slaughter, then why did Suzanne Roy of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign send a celebratory email on December 29th to supporters who the AWHPC had two days earlier asked for $10,000?

    The initial call for help read, in part:

    “Your help is urgently needed to save 41 wild Nevada mustangs from slaughter — including the band stallion Rambo and his family (pictured above). These wild horses were captured from the Virginia Range by the Nevada Department of Agriculture and will be put up for bid at a slaughter auction on January 9th. A photographer captured the recent brutal treatment of Rambo’s small foal as he was pulled by the neck when the state was capturing these horses.

    Unless we can raise $10,000 for their rescue and care, these historic mustangs will likely be purchased by kill buyers and trucked to Mexico where they will face an unspeakably cruel death at a brutal slaughter plant.”

    And the announcement of the success of the fund-raising two days later read:

    “We are thrilled to report that we have raised the funds necessary to rescue 41 wild Nevada mustangs from slaughter! Earlier this week, we wrote to you about the plight of these horses – including a band stallion named Rambo, his family (including the foal pictured below) and his herd mates – who had been captured by the State of Nevada and will be put up for bid at a slaughter auction on January 9, 2013.

    Once again, AWHPC supporters have risen to the occasion and generously donated the funds necessary to purchase these horses and care for them while permanent placement is found.

    Thanks to you, these mustangs will be saved!

    We are so touched by the overwhelming response by you and our other compassionate and generous supporters. Thanks to you, local Nevada advocates have already rescued 99 wild horses from slaughter. Now Rambo, his family and herd mates will also be safe.

    Today, the hard work begins. Not only must local advocates care for and place these horses in permanent homes, but also we must increase the pressure on Governor Brian Sandoval and the State of Nevada to change its cruel policy of capturing wild horses and dumping them at slaughter auctions. Since the historic Virginia Range mustangs live on state, local and private lands, they are not protected by federal law. Therefore reforming state policy is essential!

    Please stay tuned as we update you on this situation and let you know how you can help. Meanwhile, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your generosity and support. Without you, these beautiful wild horses would face a horrible fate.

    Wishing you peace and joy in the New Year.

    -The AWHPC Team”

    Is the $10,000 raised not going to be applied to rescuing these 41 wild horses after all? If not, what will be done with it?

    Also, what will the horses do — where will they go — if the auction is not held?

    January 4, 2013
  • John

    Lucky no one has gotten killed? What about the innocent mustangs? What is wrong with these idiots? This is called society? It is so totally upside down…..

    January 4, 2013
    • Marcia

      Couldn’t agree more! When we hear “no one was killed” in so many circumstances, that usually doesn’t include the dead animals.

      January 4, 2013
  • John

    Lucky no one has gotten killed? What about the innocent mustangs? What is wrong with these idiots? This is called society? It is so totally upside down…..bad bad bad

    January 4, 2013
  • Marcia

    What is going on with the horses is deplorable and inexcusable. However, there is more–just read about the wolves and the bison in the Northwest! It seems to be open season on wild animals. Apparently we have to leave everything to the ranchers and the hunters. Then of course, there is the jobs issue–just open those slaughter houses and people will be employed. We need to ask what kind of jobs are acceptable and not just go along with anything that pays a buck.

    January 4, 2013
    • John


      January 4, 2013
  • BlessUsAll

    Ditto John and Marcia above.

    Also, here’s an update from AWHPC on its stance regarding the auction, as well as a history of the Virgina Range horses and how they’ve come to be in their current precarious position.

    Scroll down to find a TAKE ACTION button that allows you to send an email to Nevada’s Gov. Sandoval:

    January 4, 2013
  • Daniel Cordero

    The comments of Barbie (what a ridiculous name, bet this guy was the target of all pranks at school) reflect the ignorance and frivolity of a set of people who are not up to the positions they are holding in government.

    No one is going to open a slaughterhouse in America and the Ag. Board should know that. If they don’t, then Barbie and friends shouldn’t be in the Ag. Board to begin with. They seem to just meet to digress stupidly on issues that are probably better off without their intervention, like if they were in some sort of freak literary circle. Such is the nature of politicians and apparatchicks.

    The danger of animals crossing roads is overstated, and can be easily solved by digging a pass below the road. When animals (be it horses, goats, deer or whatever) crossing roads are a real safety concern fauna passes are contemplated in the design project. And they do also double as water drains. This is not new and you can find them throughout the country.

    January 7, 2013
  • Denise

    To Daniel – absolutely! Not only in the US but in places such as the Netherlands “Bio” bridges are created specifically to lessen the impact on wildlife in the surrounding areas. See:
    I am not so sure about no US slaughter houses opening. Isn’t New Mexico heading that way? If so we can predict where our horses will be going

    January 9, 2013
  • Daniel Cordero

    Sorry if I took so long to reply, job simply doesn’t provide me much free time.

    Answering your question, the New Mexico plant is just a smoke screen created by the remnants of the horsemeat-driven lobbying industry (that is, the Sue Wallis – Dave Duquette circus freak sideshow). They are basically doing CPR on a dying business (which is providing agribusiness with unnecessary lobbying services using horse slaughter as an excuse) by stirring the pot claiming they are going to open a plant when no there is no such a plant and that USDA is denying them inspections because Obama is commie and the like.

    But, as always, the cheap propaganda put up by Wallis and friends doesn’t resist a logic-driven analysis of the situation:

    Fact 1: The Roswell guy that owns the presumed plant(some Santos or something like that) has a plus $80,000 fine levied against him by the NM Ag. Department for dumping and letting rot offal repeadtedly in the surroundings of the premises. He has not paid yet the fine and, probably, got or was going to have his license suspended.

    Fact 2: The feds (USDA) decided to shut down his operation due to numerous violations of animal welfare regulations. For the USDA to shut down a slaughter plant, in a Western state (NM is not NYC!) on the basis of the all-time neglected and ignored Animal Welfare Act conditions in that plant must be hallucinatingly bad.

    Moreover, it seems this guy is so broke that not only he is unable to pay the fine levied against him but, probably, he was also unable to pay in time providers (cattle ranchers who provide the stock for the plant) and this might be the real thing that triggered the USDA action that put him out of business for good.

    This guy is basically on the brink of foreclosure, yet he and Wallis want us to believe he will be able to set shop in a business that is tightly controlled by multimillion-dollar European multinationals in a market that is not only thousands of miles away but also totally unknown and foreign for Wallis and Santos with no distribution channel and no nothing. It makes no sense.

    Fact 3: America is not eligible to export directly horsemeat to Europe and will not be so in the foreeseable future. USDA has no inspection and testing program in place for horsemeat (which is a prerequisite to file an application for an export authoriation), has not submitted an inspection report since 2007 and didn’t implement any equine ID and traceability schene as required for third countries to export horsemeat to the EU (Canada and Mexico have implemented to varios degrees such an scheme).

    Since nobody is going to eat horsemeat in America, this implies there is no business for this plant, unless they plan to sell horsemeat to the flying saucers.

    Conclusion: No plant is going to open. In fact, this is the fifth or so plant Wallis said she was going to open since 2008. As weird as this may appear, this is normal for Wallis. She likes and lives off scaring people.

    There are more probabilities of winning the powerball jackpot than of a plant opening in NM.

    January 10, 2013