Those who purchase wild horses and burros from Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will be subject to stiffer rules under a new policy announced by the agency on Jan. 4.
BLM Spokesman Tom Gorey said that the changes respond to recent media reports that since 2009, Colorado-based livestock hauler Tom Davis purchased more than 1,700 mustangs from the BLM and subsequently sold the animals for slaughter in Mexico. The current BLM mustang and burro contract forbids buyers from knowingly selling or giving away animals for processing into commercial products; those who do sell or otherwise transfer horses for processing face federal charges.
Issued under an interim Instruction Memorandum, the new policy restricts individuals or groups from purchasing more than four wild mustangs or burros within a six-month period unless otherwise approved by the BLM. Under the policy change, those who purchase animals from the BLM must provide transportation for the animals in agency-approved trailers. The agency reserves the right to inspect trailers and to refuse to load the animal if the trailer does not provide safe and humane transport for the animals.
The policy also requires buyers to inform the agency regarding where the animals will be kept for the first six months after the purchase.
Gorey said the new policy is effective immediately and will remain in effect until the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program publishes additional guidance on wild horse and burro sales.
Jerry Finch, wild horse advocate and president of Habitat for Horses, said that even with the new policy rules in place, the BLM cannot ensure that mustangs won’t fall into the wrong hands.
Gorey said that the agency encourages anyone who observes inhumane treatment or the sale of a wild mustang or burro to contact the agency at 866/468-7826 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Tipsters should provide their names, contact information, and specific details about the incident they observed, he said.