Casualties of the vanishing West: How monied interests are forcefully evicting wild horses

Chief, a Kiger mustang born in the remote wilderness of Utah, lives with 400 other rescued wild horses and burros in a 1,500 acre sanctuary, hundreds of miles from his original home. Years ago the stallion was captured in a round up led by the Bureau of Land Management. After a long helicopter chase, he ended up in a government-run holding facility for years before being adopted by Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary in Lompoc, CA. Not all horses rounded up by the BLM are as lucky.

The majority of captured equines remain stuck for years, if not for the rest of their lives, in cramped holding facilities that are quickly running out of space. As of July 2015 the facilities held 47,000 wild horses, and the BLM’s holding capacity is set at 50,929. Yet the agency is planning to remove another 2,739 wild horses and burros this year at a taxpayer cost of $78 million.

An example of an emergency holding facility for excess mustangs is a cattle feedlot in Scott City, Kansas. In 2014, a BLM contractor leased the feedlot, owned by Beef Belt LLC, to hold 1,900 mares. The horses were transported from pasture to corrals designed for fattening up cattle. Within the first few weeks of their arrival, at least 75 mares died. Mortality reports acquired from the BLM through the Freedom of Information Act show that as of June 2015, 143 more horses had died. The facility is closed to the public.

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AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • Cynthia Soutsos

    Please can we as humans share this wonderful plant we share
    With all other creatures nurture not destroy as we are to willing to do.. Save these magnificent creatures

    November 3, 2015
  • Judy Wendt

    Big Meat needs the space – at the tax payers expense. They manipulate the tea partiers into thinking their gun rights are threatened so corporations can elect an oligarchy to serve their desires for tax subsidized land. Their puppets keep us in debt from constant war in areas that we don’t understand, then want to use the debt to eliminate social security and medicare to pay for it. If you are voting for these candidates, or even participating by eating beef, then this treatment of horses is the least of what you are causing.

    November 3, 2015
  • Louie C

    From PEER ( Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility)

    Horses to Slaughter- Anatomy of a Coverup within
    the BLM (April 1997)

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) within the Department of Interior is the
    agency mandated by law “to protect and manage wild free-roaming
    horses…as components of the public lands.” Yet, the BLM has tolerated
    and in some instances facilitated the routine and illegal trafficking of wild
    horses to slaughter. The agency has obstructed efforts by its own law
    enforcement officers to expose commercial theft of wild horses, fraudulent
    adoption schemes and fictitious “sanctuary” herds not only to avoid
    embarrassment but also to maintain the flow of horses off the range

    November 3, 2015
  • Louie C

    From PEER ( Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility)

    Little-Used Law for Federal Contract and Subcontract Employees to Lapse in 2017
    Posted on Nov 02,

    Today, PEER filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on behalf of Terry Schaedig who was discharged on September 22, 2014 from his job as an employee of a government contractor after disclosing numerous contract violations to both his management and federal officials responsible for contract oversight. The contract was between the Forest Service and his employer, the National Wild Turkey Federation.

    On December 19, 2014, PEER filed a formal whistleblower complaint in the matter with the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Forest Service’s parent agency. In a letter dated September 4, 2015, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack declined to act and issued an “Order Denying Relief.” This action exhausted the law’s stipulated administrative process and freed Mr. Schaedig to seek judicial review, which PEER’s filing initiated.

    November 3, 2015
  • Louie C

    Federal government begins large Oregon Wild Horse roundup
    November 2, 2015

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Wild horse advocates are calling for a
    stop to one of the largest roundups of wild mustangs in Oregon history.

    The U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Monday began preparations to gather up to 1,500 wild horses roaming freely on about 625 square miles of the Beatys Butte herd management area east of Lakeview in southern Oregon.

    Officials say the mustangs will be rounded up by helicopter. The
    roundup’s aim is to reduce the population to 100 and remove the rest.

    It’s the first roundup since a federal investigation in October
    determined a Colorado livestock hauler repeatedly lied to officials and sold
    nearly 1,800 wild horses to buyers who took them to slaughterhouses in Mexico.

    The hauler bought the mustangs through the BLM program that’s supposed to provide wild horses with good homes.

    November 3, 2015
  • Louie C

    Blue Moon’s Last Stand
    Wild Horse Roundup at Warm Springs Oregon. November 6th, 2010.

    November 3, 2015
  • Louie C

    Tens of Thousands of Citizens Oppose Massive Oregon Mustang Roundup

    November 3, 2015
  • What is the matter with all this Government involvment with the capture and killing of all these wild animals? Believe me I know its for Big Business, but what I can’t understand is how cruel and heartless for these animals who have lived there for hundreds of years to be just disposed of like trash. But our Government is willing to take in vast numbers of refugees and give them housing, food and medical care, something these animals have never needed. Our nation has come a very sad place.

    November 3, 2015
  • Daniel Cordero Fernandez

    Great article. Glad to hear there are still journalists that have a spine and do not limit themselves to copypaste the baloney from BLM and so-called “industry”.

    If BLM is not policed or disbanded altogether it will simply degenerate into organized crime and crony capitalism (wait… it is already that!) third-world style. Western rangelands will be nothing but a huge, impoverished wasteland where a handful of individuals live like kings controlling all resources while the rest live in misery off the crumbs that fall of the former’s tables.

    November 4, 2015
  • Admiring the dedication you put into your blog and in depth information you present.
    It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed information. Fantastic read!
    I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

    November 4, 2015