Wild horse buyer goes uncharged due to state oversight


Dave Philipps – The Gazette – April 4, 2013



Photo by Dave Philipps
Tom Davis, of La Jara, is the focus of investigations for his disposal of protected wild horses.

Two state agencies dropped the ball when it came to prosecuting a southern Colorado wild horse buyer who admitted to breaking state laws while shipping hundreds of federally protected wild horses.

The buyer, Tom Davis of La Jara, has not been charged nor investigated. The two state agencies involved blame each other, saying there is “confusion” and “a disconnect” about who should head an investigation.

ProPublica report published in The Gazette in September detailed how Davis, a proponent of horse slaughter, purchased truckload after truckload of 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 have 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 are still in his possession, meaning almost 1,000 were shipped or sold without an inspection.

Davis admitted as much to ProPublica, 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?”

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

After the report was published, the Department of Interior and the Colorado brand inspection office said they would investigate Davis.

“The brand laws are some of the oldest laws in the state,” Brand Commissioner Chris Whitney said last fall. “They are there to prevent livestock theft and we take them very seriously.”

He spoke to Davis in October and said Davis admitted to violating brand laws.

Whitney then called the 12th Judicial District Attorney, David Mahonee, in November to brief him on the case. He sent the D.A. a formal letter saying Davis had admitted to violating the law and “an investigation is warranted” but the brand inspection office was not equipped to do it.

Since then, no one has launched an investigation. The Gazette contacted officials this week about the matter.


AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • Dana

    What officials can we contact and what is their contact info. I’d love to get a petition started to open a full investigation.

    April 5, 2013
  • Debbie Tracy

    Oh my god, yup here we go, I NEVER thought anything would be done!!! This is just a GREAT COUNTRY we live in is it not??? Drop the ball again, just makes my faith in the justice system even less and less if that is possible!!! Makes me absolutely SICK!!!! I have NO MORE WORDS for this, well I do but I can’t write them!!!

    April 5, 2013
  • Arlene

    Nothing worse then a blatant out and out liar !!!!!!

    April 5, 2013
  • Robert Hillery

    “Oversight” ??? !!! Bloody incompetence that should result in immediate firing OR a thorough outside investigation because there seems a strong potential for ‘oversight’ to be a way to duck charges of a buddy or someone gets paid to make ‘an administrative error’ that leaves this scum in the clear and on the loose. I’m PISSED.

    April 5, 2013
  • “”” EVERYTHING IS DONE ILLEGALLY”””??? man, I was arrested TWICE for a liar woman saying we did not deliver $150 worth of firewood–and this guy sold what, $100,000 worth of horses? and he BRAGS he KNOWS it is ILLEGAL??? WHAT???

    April 5, 2013
  • Ann Lawrence

    Can I get away with “murder” ? If I do something illegal can I avoid investigation and jail time? Who’s his partner in crime? So this is truth and justice in the USA? So all this is just going to go away? And 1700 horses are missing? Those animals belonged to the citizens of the USA. Thanks D. Philipps for keeping this in the news.

    April 5, 2013
  • Dorothy Hudecek

    Is it any wonder why the public does not believe anything , any government agency has to say. Was thia a surprise to us, don’t think so. One thing Tom Davis said was correct.” Since when does anything get done legal” Anoother non-surprise is that tom Davis is friends with Ken Salazar!!!

    April 5, 2013
  • LNorman

    This is absolutely unacceptable corruption. We know an investigation leads straight to salazoo and all these criminals are getting away with murder meanwhile salazoo goes back to his cushy life “in the private sector”. Who the hell is over the DOI? Inspector general, FBI? This needs to go higher up. Of course DOI/blm is NOT going to police themselves. reminds me of the roman empire just before they fell, rampant corruption.

    April 5, 2013
  • Complete corruption. Also remember the letter some congressmen wrote to Salazar asking about this ? He never answered .

    April 5, 2013
  • sherriey

    surprised? not really! i never expected this jerk to be prosecuted! remember….they take care of their own and he is one of them.
    slimy corrupted and paid off!

    April 5, 2013
  • Surprise,surprise!! Another one gets away. How can they just not do anything? What can we as tax paying citizens do to get this man and others like him indicted?

    April 10, 2013
  • tonja wescott

    I have loved horses my whole life and those horses belong to me and every native American so to the asses that are stealing them need to be hung!

    April 23, 2013