Horse News

Pickens Responds to BLM Director’s Pro-Slaughter Stance

Madeleine Pickens Echos Concern over Summit of the Slaughter Attendance

December 1, 2010
Mr. Bob Abbey
Director, Bureau of Land Management
Department of the Interior
Washington, D.C.

Bad move on part of BLM to allow Abbey to speak at Slaughterfest

Dear Mr. Abbey,
I read with great concern for the program at the upcoming “Summit of the Horse” and that you are noted as one of the speakers. While I recognize that you are obligated to reach out to a wide variety of constituents groups to seek input on the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program, the cast of characters attending this event reads more like a who’s who of the pro-slaughter and anti-wild horse community.

It seems that whenever the pro-agriculture groups dangle a dollar in front of individuals or outside groups, they automatically become equine experts, and are first in line to reap the economic benefits of the latest pitch. As a matter of fact, it’s the economics of grazing on public lands that has generated the issue with the overpopulation of wild horses in holding pens and the costs associated with that program. Suggesting giving more money to the pro-agriculture crowd as a solution to the boondoggle is misleading and is sure to fail as it will only create more issues with the Wild Horse and Burro Program. Since the BLM has openly stated that they will not engage in any attempt to euthanize or slaughter wild horses, it is even more interesting that you are participating in a discussion of exactly that issue with the pro-slaughter crowd.

If the “Summit” participants were seriously concerned about what they refer to as the “unwanted” horses driving the demand for slaughter in this country, they would have to look no further than the boutique breeding industry in this country. We are producing somewhere in the range of 250,000 registry horses in this country every year. It is very hard to make the argument that the few thousand new wild horses born each year can match the numbers of breed horses contributing to the overpopulation of horses in this country. The answer to the “unwanted” horse population in this country is to ensure responsible breeding and responsible care, and not driving 10,000 wild horses each year by helicopter into a trap for removal.

One only has to glance at the details of the program and the recurring reference to “feral” horses to understand what the intentions of this group are. I encourage you to read an article that ran in the Reno Gazette Journal recently stating that, “Modern horses evolved here and that’s an adequate reason to consider them a native American species and not ‘invasive’ or ‘introduced feral animals.”Perhaps you could share this conclusion with the participants at the forum.

I appreciated the opportunity to meet with you and others recently to discuss possible solutions to the problems that plague the Wild Horse and Burro Program. I am now engaged in a good faith effort, at a considerable personal cost, to work with BLM personnel in Nevada to develop a new model to keep and manage excess wild horses. As I told you then, leveraging private dollars and creating a pilot program to handle wild horses coming off the ranges in the Western U.S. takes us in a new, positive direction and offers a new vision for an applicable solution. I fear the group gathering at the Summit of the Horse is recycling many of the ideas and actions that have perpetuated the controversial problems we now see in the strategy to gather and hold our wild horses.

I hope you will continue to engage with people of good faith who want to see the Wild Horse and Burro Program managed in a way that all the stakeholders, including the wild horses and their advocates, are content with and will have a say in the final outcome. I am always available if I can be of service in working on this issue for the betterment of all concerned.


Madeleine Pickens

37 replies »

  1. Thank you, Madeleine for representing us all. I get enraged when I think of Horse Slaughter. I’ve watched so many videos of live horses, hung by one foot, throat slit to bleed out while writhing in pain. I’ll never get the visuals out of my mind. Then the Helicopter death round-ups. Terrified Mustangs chased by a Helicopter. Running their hooves off, aborting their babies, foals dying.
    You handle these scum with such dignity. I truly admire you. So many horses.
    Makes me sick. I try to educate people at the dog Park. They don’t want to hear. I cry when I see the slaughter in my mind. The Mustangs that survive the Helicopter chase will have PTSD. I wish you could have cowboys/girls
    round up Mustangs for your Sanctuary before their brains are traumatized.
    Thank you for your time and efforts to save our Heritage.


    • Lynn, people also don’t want to hear about animal slaughter at all. Beef, pork, lamb, chicken come from the SUPERMARKET, not the slaughterhouse. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a vegetarian, but I try to be mindful of how that meat ended up on my plate. Maybe when we bless food to our use, we should also bless the animals whose lives were taken to provide the meal.


  2. I think Madeleine so elegantly put what we have all been thinking. I would have been tempted to take it down to 2 words neither of which would have been particularly lady-like. I’m still trying to locate some govt watchdog groups. There was one I ran across and can’t find. I’d like to know the cost to the tax-payer, the extra curricular activities we also support (wouldn’t want to think how low they can go). And I want the world to know how the very agency that purports to not have sale to slaughter on the table is eating at the very same table as those that would like nothing more than to see horsemeat on the dinner tables of the world. It’s one thing to show up at a meeting where both sides are present, another entirely to endorse by your presence. Don’t let me see any photos of Abbey with his arm around Sue, oh ugh.


  3. Dear Madeleine,

    Thank you for speaking out on behalf of the wild horses and burros. They need a person of vision,strength and integrity to be their voice and protector. I live on the east coast–someday I want to see a herd of wild horses–in the wild. I know that the advocates are working to ensure that these magnificent animals have a future–they are a living history of the west. Your help is so greatly appreciated.

    Ann Lawrence


  4. ” I am now engaged in a good faith effort, at a considerable personal cost, to work with BLM personnel in Nevada to develop a new model to keep and manage excess wild horses. As I told you then, leveraging private dollars and creating a pilot program to handle wild horses coming off the ranges in the Western U.S. takes us in a new, positive direction and offers a new vision for an applicable solution. ”

    Does this mean that Madeleine is going to help the horses coming off the range by getting them to safe range before processing (gelding and PZP and freeze branding) ?
    She says “to develop a new model to keep and manage excess wild horses”?? I hope I am understanding what she means. Any chance of Madeleine commenting here?? mar


  5. Madeleine:

    Elegantly put. Thank goodness we have you on our side. Every word was to the point and expressed so this Abbey should understand. I think he speaks with two tongues and do not trust him to keep his word, if his word is even expressed toward our position. GOd bless you for what you are doing for our wild horses. I, too, would love to see our wild horses grazing, running with their beautiful manes and tails flowing gracefully behind them. THere is not a more beautiful animal on earth. God’s perfection is exhibited in each of these animals.


  6. Great letter, Madeleine!! Your support for our horses is really appreciated. I’m mystified by Bob Abbey’s presence with this summit, too and find it very concerning. It seems to me with him just attending such an event, let alone speaking, is questionable. What’s the old saying, your judged by the company you keep?


  7. Madeleine, My Husband & I totally agree with you on all of the above.
    May I please take the time to say one other thing?
    My Husband & I were talking about how Elko, Nev. was keeping you from starting your sancturay. It’s not fair because if you were starting a regular horse ranch The people there would be all for it.
    My husband kept trying to come up with ways you could start a ranch under their noses & still get Mustangs in there. Well, they were great ideas any way.
    We pray this Sanctury goes for you & our horses.
    Thank you for all you are doing


  8. You know…everyone is a bit shocked that Abbey will be at the “Hate the Horse” Summit, You all do realize that he IS Cattoor’s boss…right? Cattoor will be there too, right?

    I wonder if there are any restrictions on his “goose that lays the golden egg(s)” government contracts with regard to personal activities, reimbursements, finances?

    NAW!!!!!! His golden goose NEVER asks questions!


  9. ….”look no further than the boutique breeding industry in this country…” a problem central to what’s happened in the equine world. As economies list and fail here and abroad, those beings that are vulnerable will suffer most.
    That and the over bearing nature of many in the cattle industry with a me first now a me only attitude about grazing.
    These things must change or we will have more of the same. Thank you Madeleine for affirming my own thoughts, feelings and observations.


  10. Bravo! The tone of Madeleine’s letter is respectful, but doesn’t miss a point.

    Bob Abbey shouldn’t be seen, let alone speak, at this meeting. In fact, no official representative from the WH&BP should be there, specificially BECAUSE of their constant assertions they don’t sell horses to slaughter and their “request” that those who buy horses “in unlimited quantity, without reservation” don’t resell to slaughter.

    Does the BLM keep track of sale authority horses to ensure buyers are complying with their “request”? I assume the answer is “NO”, since they can hardly find horses already “in the system” people sincerely want to ADOPT, which is supposed to be the program’s goal. If they do keep tabs on sold horses, I’d like to read their procedures and data beyond numbers sold each year, which are so few I find the figures impossible to believe.


    • The adoption program is very broken. I know you know this from your research. The need to redo all of this and just get away from all of BLM’s ingrown problems gets more
      necessary everyday. I wish they would let go. What would we do that would be worse?? Nothing… but we would want the horses, native North American wild horses- to live here always. The BLM has no right, along with private industry, to decide they must be removed…. this is where they belong! mar


      • There are so many simple things that could be done to improve the adoption program.

        One easy improvement would be better photos on the Internet Site. A good 3/4 head portrait for both the main page and header on the individual page. Four standing poses – left, right, front, and rear. One photo showing movement at the trot. They’ve got digital cameras with memory cards. Take more pix and choose the best. Let folks get a better idea of the horse they’re bidding on.

        Another would be a brief description of the horse’s qualities, even if it’s just “good-looking” or “sturdy”. If the horse is “quiet” or “sweet” (which I’ve read in some of the very few descriptions), for heaven’s sake say so.

        Don’t these people know ANYTHING about marketing???


      • If there are 30,000/40,000 + horses and burros in LTH & STH then there should be 30,000/40,000 + pictures on the WH&B internet site. And the auction should be ongoing, what is with these “special” internet events and the on site adoption days? Get the horse’s pics out there. You never know when THE one will grab someone’s heart. Only gonna happen IF they can actually see them of course.


      • Heck- the WH&B program could actually sell catalogs or programs to earn money. These dollars could go right back into enhancing the adoption program. (I know in a perfect world they would all be free again)


  11. Great Question Mar !!!!!! Her letter to Bob Abbey is a wonderful thing , but i also would like the answer to that paragraph……The rest of the letter is awesome and elegant and well said …I always wondered about her and her intentions, I am hoping I am oh so wrong ! I would love to think this lady was all for the Mustangs …….She is elegant and would be such a plus for them! But there is a element with her that i have questioned! and it is I get the impression that she wants to make circus animals or an attraction out of them and I want them to be free as intended…………….. But also I thought she was a better fate then the BLM has planned………..


    • arlene- Mrs. Picken’s plan is not a perfect one, and many people agree with your assessment of her plan. BUT we must start somewhere, if her ranch will raise awareness about the Mustang’s and their path to extinction, then we need to give her our support. IMHO.


      • Thank You KA I have felt that way about Madeliene Pickens since when she started her plan,it is good to know that I wasnt the only one , I do understand she is the lessor of the Evils, But they do deserve to be free …………and I believe also it is essential to the environment that they remain free ………. They have continuing contributions to give,they are in our future to help us and teach us if we can stop these cruel and inhumane beings that continue their no foundation greedy assaults on the very animal they are in trusted to protect !!! Madeliene Pickens is said to have signed a agreement that she will continue to castrate all the Stallions in her possession with the BLM…………………If they truly in fact with study need to use PZP on the Mares and use it wisely to benefit them and knowing when it is stopped the Mustangs genes can continue to reproduce……….But to castrate all the Stallions is not a good thing at all……………..They need to use the Brains they have and be wise ………………………… Until they are forced to use them they will not, they will continue to assault them……………. with their worn out , out dated nonsense , barbaric policies They must be stopped in no uncertain terms………………… This will benefit the Mustangs and all mankind, how can they be so yes well plain out and out stupid……………………………


    • She wants to get some of the 45,000 already in BLM prison and provide a better life for them while educating the public. How much of the public currently visits long or short term holding facilities now? We don’t even know where they are and 99% of the public doesn’t even know 45,000 horses are in them. It’s a sanctuary; a place of refuge and safety.


      • Thank You savethehorses Its a feeling i have had since the start of her plan , I know she means well and it would be a refuge for them but to sign a paper stating she would castrate all the Stallions does not set right with me !!!! But I also feel it is a better plan then the BLM has for sure , but their complete freedom is the goal.. and her plan doesnt get it for them ……………….. But i accept it only because it is the better answer……………….. Then the BLM>>>>>>>.


  12. Did Ms. Pickens cc: her letter to the applicable committee heads in the House and Senate?…or her elected reps with a cover letter protesting this charade, complaining about possible misuse of taxpayer funds and the appearance of conflict of interest/lack of “equal time? You know that whole “fair and balanced” thingy that the media and governments are supposed to do.


  13. I respectfully disagree that Ms. Pickens or her plan is the lesser of two evils.

    If BLM/DOI, the state’s with wild equines or the USDA were not brutalizing, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Secondly, they have repeatedly paid lipservice to her and still continue their murderous ways. She wants them humanely managed on the ranges. The back up plan is to care for the ones that are in butcherous roundups and/or long term death camps. DOI REFUSES TO ALLOW HER OR THE EQUINES ANY CONSIDERATION. Anyone want to guess why???? Hmmmm…let’s see, sterilize, disappear and kill as many without a third set of independent eyes (and frankly, the trolls that are elected reps NEVER HOLD THE KILLERS AND LIARS ACCOUNTABLE…in fact they give them more money). Ms. Pickens just doesn’t fit into their “final solution”plans. Obvious really.

    Any port in a storm folks….any port in a storm and she is certainly still getting rebuffed either way.


    • denise- its all about control and power- their (BLM) way is the only way. They stuck their nose in New Mexico’s sanctuary plan, too. The BLM don’t want to “mange” them but doesn’t want anybody else to either. The naysayers and pro-round-em-all-uppers keep saying the advocates should come up with a plan. They want “us” to take care of them ourselves. BUT everybody who tries gets shot down!


  14. Thank You Denise , i phrased that wrong , I meant I am all about Complete Freedom for the Wild Mustangs the kind that was intended for them… the kind I used to observe them on the desert in Las Vegas, hundreds of times over the years, the sight and sound to me was the most beautiful to me I still can see them in my minds eye free and oh so wonderful……….. so I really meant was, it is a much better fate then the BLM intends………..Madeliene is a lovely lady with the best of intentions and I respect her for them………………….. I long for them to happy again and free !!!!


  15. From Bob Abbey’s Official Press release why he is attending the Summit of the Horse:

    ‎”I have demonstrated a willingness to discuss the BLM’s management of wild horses and burros with any organization interested in ensuring the health and welfare of wild horses and burros, both on and off the range.” -Bob Abbey

    Is this organization interested in ensuring the health and welfare of wild horses, Mr. Abbey?


    • I’m sure there are more qualified individuals that truly are concerned about the health and welfare of wild equines that can shoot repeated holes in the arrogant, disingenuous pile of cow manure that is Mr. Abbey’s press release better than I with dates, correspondence, meetings or the lack thereof that say Mr. Abbey ain’t tellin’ the truth.

      But thanks for putting it up for all to read.


  16. For people who want to make an official complaint regarding Mr. Abbey’s or any other government employees attendance at this meeting in an official capacity (on our dime), I suppest contactacting DOIIG site and reporting it to the hotline. You can do this by email. There is also the GAO. These may be the fastest, most effective methods to register concerns. We may not get the results that we want, at least immediately, but these are the avenues the government has provided.

    It seems to me that if Mr. Abbey were sincerely and commited through issues of conscience to anti-slaughter, he could make a far stronger statement to this group of faux horse industry collectibles by issuing a press release saying that the government is not now or in the future going to be in business of slaughtering wild horses and burros despite the provision in the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act that provides for that possibility. He could do this and should do this, unless, of course, he can’t. Can’t could be mean a few different things. On the dark side, he could either he knows that wild horses and burros are being sold “off the books” by BLM employees in the field or maybe its not so “off the books”. Maybe someone in the pro-horse slaughter movement knows or thinks he knows what’s going on and has threatened to expose it. what is going on if the BLM does not listen to their they want a piece of the action that plants in Mexico and Canada are in on.

    The very idea that the Director of the Bureau of Land Management would attend this meeting scheduled at a casino in Law Vegas is very poor judgment for three reasons. The first reason has already been adequately addressed. The second reason, I think someone–probably Louie—addressed on one of the Sue’s Crew topics, is that our tax dollars will pay for this. Maybe it is different out West, but here in the Bible Belt sending tax dollars to any place where there is a casino is frowned on most of the time, but even more so since the economy is so bad. Of course, and this is the third reason, related in an odd sort of way to the second, one of the reasons that the economy is so bad is that early in his administration, Obama nearly did the travel industry in by making such a big deal about (it may have been the auto industry) executives traveling in private jets to meetings and holding meetings at swanky resorts. Well, people who depend on those swanky resorts for their income (Yes, Mr. President, this includes the maids who clean rooms, chefs, cooks, and wait staff) have been really hurting over the past couple of years. So, it seems really hypocritical for the administration to pay for a government official to attend a meeting that he should not be attending because the interests of the people who are attending the meeting directly conflicts with the interests of those animals he is supposed to be protecting.

    Yes, I know that the the bill has been amended, but we, the government, and all those ranchers know that the only reason this law is followed by the two words “as amended” is because the current Majority Leader in the Senate colluded with the not returned to office former Senator Conrad Burns, and tricked lawmakers into passing an amendment that would not stand a chance on its own—which, in my opinion, is an excellent example of why we should be highly attentive to the current discussion about earmarks included in other legislation. The Burns amendment was never debated in Congress and would never have passed on its own. This is an example of politics at its dirtiest and most deceptive.

    I hope that State of Wyoming Representative from Recluse, Wyoming, and her cronies are aware of this also. There is a great big world out here far away from her ranch. There is no market in this country for horse meat and even if therer were not a cow, pig, chicken, deer, fish, sheep, quail, crawdad, frog, grouse, goose, buffalo, or low-petrol oysters anywhere to be found, most people in this culture could not bring themselves to consider eating horse meat. Horses are considered sacred in some cultures, and it is not without reason that authors like C. S. Lewis included the horse as special animals in literature. In Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan, his Christ-like protangonist, horses are members of a class of animals who have the gift of being able to speak with humans. Language is just one of several gifts that exist between human and horse. It may be arguable, but not in a winable way, that no animal has meant more to man’s survival and his progress than the horse. In stores today, I saw stick horses, rocking horses, and even modern versions of my childhood favorite, the hobby horse. Children don’t jump on a stick and imagine they are riding a pig. Little girls don’t beg their daddies for years to get Santa to please bring them a cow for Christmas.

    There is no market for horse meat in this country, and if these people do not want to reduce the market for beef, pork, poultry, and other valued animal agricultural commodities as part of a collective revulsive backlash, they need to get with the culture. There is a growing movement here in the East to go to small local farmers to buy free range chicken, fresh eggs, dairy products, and fresh produce, or even grow some of your own vegetables in container or smallish raised beds if you don’t have much land or time.

    What perfect non-sequiturs Sue Wallis makes. There are more people now eating a vegan diet than used to eat a vegan diet; therefore, we need to slaughter horses for meat. Some people in this country are hungry; therefore, we need to slaughter horses for meat. Slaughter Sue says that horse meat was sold during the 40’s as a choice of cheap, affordable meat. Fast forward to 2010. If a pound of horse meat sells for the equivalent of $25.00 in a pricey foreign restaurant (presumably no longer in the EU), who believes that Sue and the Screws are in this for altruistic purposes? Finally, the last really obvious piece is that since we are already selling all but 2% to 3% of the beef raised on public lands to foreign markets, the American demand for meat is greater than American farmers can currently supply. The fact of the matter is that the American farmer/rancher is supplying beef in amounts greater than the American consumer will purchase.

    A decade ago this state’s economy was driven by the tobacco, textile, and furniture industries. All of these industries have greatly declined. As someone else said, times change and markets change. You can’t make money by offering a product that no one wants to buy unless you live in a communist country and the government buys it to give to the people. Partly as a result of having more land available in a realtively mild climate and partly because of consumer interest, we have a booming little cottage industry or vineyards throughout this state and are vying for more businesses and jobs that use information and technology such as transportation hubs and data centers. Plus, there are still a lot of farms here, though much of the land is not operated by the families that own it. There are many people who raise cattle on privately leased land; a lot of them do it to supplement their income, not as a primary source of income.

    So grow nuts, Sue. Slaughter walnuts. Eat more walnut meat, Sue. Walnut meat full of Omega-3’s. Or try grapes—go for the resveratol. Good for the brain and good for the heart.


  17. Bob Abbey states ” “The Bureau of Land Management’s top priority is to ensure the health of the public lands so that the species depending on them – including the nation’s wild horses and burros – can THRIVE. To achieve that end, the BLM’s wild horse and burro program must be put on a SUSTAINABLE course that benefits the animals, the land, and the American taxpayer.” How can he or any other representative of BLM attend or support this slaughterfest when in his own words his top priority is for these animals to thrive and be put on a sustainable course that benefits them. Bob Abbey was nominated by Obama as BLM’s Chief so we must also hold Obama responsible for the welfare of these animals. I wonder how Malia and Sasha feel about the abuse the horses and burros have endured and their possible slaughter when they are suppose to be protected by the BLM and their father!
    Thank you Madeleine Pickens for your generous advocacy for our nations wild horses and burros. You have my utmost admiration and support!


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