Horse News

BLM Seizes Wild Horses in Suspected Slaughter Scam

By Amy Joi O’Donoghue appearing in multiple sources with local editorial updates.

Wild Horse Advocate’s Worse Fears Verified

A truck hauling horses travels the highway near Helper, Friday, Aug. 5, 2011. The horses were impounded by federal agents at the port of entry. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

HELPER, UTAH  — Federal agents impounded 47 Bureau of Land Management horses Friday at the Port of Entry in Helper, preventing the likelihood of the animals being hauled by truck for slaughter in Mexico, officials said.

Gus Warr, the Utah director of the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro program, said the horses were safely delivered to the agency’s center in Herriman while the investigation continues.

“There were a number of red flags that went up in the beginning and it remains an active investigation with our agency, the FBI, state agencies and the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Warr said.

Multiple people are the target of the investigation, which spreads to Willard where some of the animals were held before being stopped in Carbon County, Warr said.

The sale of the animals occurred on paper at the Herriman facility but involved animals in the agency’s long-term holding pasture in Oklahoma.

Unlike the bureau’s adoption program, these animals are direct-sold to buyers under an agreement that includes an intent clause that prohibits subsequent sale for slaughter, Warr said. The horses are 11 years or older and may be bought for use as brood mares, for private equestrian pleasure or simply put out to pasture by the purchaser.

The last U.S. slaughterhouse for horse meat intended for human consumption closed in 2007 under a ban that went into effect that year. The prohibition has not stopped wholesale shipments of live animals to either Canada or Mexico where they are slaughtered for human consumption — mostly to supply overseas markets.

Warr said the BLM is keenly aware of the demand outside of the United States and watches for so called kill-buyers who purchase the horses for such a destiny.

“The BLM is trying to be proactively ahead of the game, which is what happened here,” he said.

But the owner of the truck that was hauling the horses said late Friday that her husband was only helping out a friend by allowing the horses to stay on their property, the DK Ranch in Willard.

SFTHH has identified the kill buyer to be one Dennis K. Kunz, of Willard, Utah.

“We are known for buying slaughter horses,” she said, “but it was just our truck that was being used.”

She said the animals were bound for Texas, but were not going to be slaughtered, adding that the type of truck they were being hauled in was not a slaughter-style truck.

But Warr said the paper trail of where the animals were headed did not match up to the reality of where they were impounded — leading his agency to believe they were intended for slaughter.

“Our primary concern at this point is that they were not going where they were supposed to.”

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52 replies »

  1. How interesting that BLM would be the one to stop slaughter bound wild horses!! They know we want this to stop and of late we all talk about this as we have come to accept it; a fore gone conclusion! In order to not expose their own connections to slaughter have they chosen a patsy? This is very serious. If the repercussions from this were what we will push for them to be (throwing out the Burn’s amendment for example) is BLM prepared to head down that path With Us? Is this another smoke screen? There have been so many!


  2. These 11 yr old horses could be on the range teaching the younger horses/ Also doesn’t this also prove that the horses in Long Term should have the same “safety net” that the horses in Short Term do – conditional adoption where they aren’t really yours for a year vs sale to anyone. Hoopefully some BLM housecleaning will be done and all the LTH “missing horses” will be accounted for.


    • Sorry–sale authority horses are yours as soon as you pay for them. Ask Terri Farley. She got Ghost Dancer and her ownership right on the spot cause BLM said Dancer was over 10. Terri has just a couple of weeks left and the papers on Sage will show her as the owner free and clear of the BLM. Sage was 2 last year so Terri had to wait the one year.

      They live at Wild Horse Sanctuary outside of Redding CA on 5000 acres. They are free to be horses, to hang out with who they will. They even have several studs–so the wild ones can have new families to hang with.

      It may not be home and it may not be perfect but Terri promised Dancer that she’d do her best.


  3. I would bet that DOI knew this was going to break and instead being involved in the scheme as one of the guys in the black hats, they turned on their co-conspirators, and donned faux white hats to get a jump on the PR nightmare.

    In the short term, I am pleased for THOSE animals…but dread the confirmation of what we have all been fearing for our wild equines.


    • I honestly believe that is why this woman was placed in this position…they knew it was going to be discovered, (although the position has been vacant for more than a couple months)….and remember the only person to get fired at the former MMS because of the Gulf disaster…that’s right, a woman.


    • You all have heard me in writing, during press conferences and in front of the BLM screaming for an accurate accounting of what is left on the range AND a certified count of how many horses are ACTUALLY in holding because I have always been suspect that our national icons were going out the back-door to slaughter and this CONFIRMS my suspicions. A moratorium must happen NOW!


      • Why is it in this age of easy digital technology that every horses taken off the range are not chipped and scanned and entered into a computer with a photo? Gosh, Fed-Ex can tell me exactly where a package is at every moment of its journey.


      • Applause,applause,APPLAUSE!!!!!

        (This message paid for by the ‘Elect RT Fitch Minister of Everything Wild Horse and Burro’ Campaign.)


      • KUDOS savewildhorses! You are darn right. Let’s do away with the antiquated BLM system, perhaps add a BARCODE to the freeze-brand? Chipping can’t be anymore less efficient or costly in the long run. “This is the way we’ve always done it” is NOT valid argument against progress. I believe more horses could be “adopted” from LTH if you go pick out the horse(s) you wanted. Why is this not allowed? NO its not because the horses are maintained on private property, my guess its because the BLM doesn’t want anybody visiting LTH pastures checking on things?
        Lisa- I second your motion- when and where to we vote?!


      • Microchipping LTH horses to find out where they go would have given us info and still could. But this is also a PR move by BLM. Glad these horses were stopped.

        Just where does a sale authority BLM Mustang stand when being shipped to slaughter and all the paperwork is legal. Time to kiss the Burn’s amendment goodbye!


      • they have this info. It was in a very old program called the WHIN (I think that’s the name of it) system which they shut down because the one employee running it retired. They brought a new system on line. The old system showed the horse, markings, HMA captured from, height and its current whereabouts. I asked about public access to this new system and was told by a blm employee that due to privacy issues there was no access but if you had a horse they could look it up for you. They have all the info on every horse and there is no reason at all that their computer data could not be run in one massive audit.


      • I also have always figured them to be taking them out the back door in the Shield of nite, this is why all the secrets from the BLM……. These filthy SOBS have been sending them to Slaughter all the time……


  4. My first thought was smokescreen. Look at this BLM release:
    “The review team, established by Dean Bolstad, Deputy Division Chief, BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program, and Amy Lueders, Acting State Director, BLM-Nevada, consisted of Dr. Albert J. Kane, Senior Staff Veterinarian, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), APHIS/BLM Wild Horse and Burro Partnership; Gus Warr, BLM-Utah Wild Horse and Burro Program Specialist; Lili Thomas, Wild Horse and Burro National Program Office, Contracting Officer Representative; and Mary D’Aversa, BLM-Nevada Schell Field Office Manager.”


  5. She said the horses were going to Texas from Oklahoma via Utah???
    And from long term holding in Oklahoma, the same bucolic Oklahoma in the BLM video in which they state these horses will live out there lives here? And aren’t the Cattoors and SunJ contractors all from Utah? I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts someone affiliated with the BLM is in on this.


  6. Haven’t these horses really been through plenty? The BLM can’t round them up and then continue to allow them to be bound for slaughter, or end up starving in Michigan, or end up in a killpen, or end up in an illegal backyard slaughterhouse in Florida. This BLM program is so horrific from beginning cruel round ups to the end of not protecting these animals and letting them go to any sick individuals or slaughterbuying ring like this one. Wonder how many truckloads this woman and her husband and his pals have purchased over the years?


  7. R.T. Can we get from all our interested parties following you, a moritorium started by all our signatures? With the attorneys help doing all the legal work of lawsuits against the BLM, could this not start a giant ball rolling to stop all sales of horses in LT and ST BLM holding pens, get an accounting of all horses held everywhere by the BLM — against their “supposed” holding horses and we would then certainly find all the differences in the “missing” horses. THis would be a great slap and bring to light the additional intentions of the BLM by proving the differences in the numbers. And with our great assistance from Raul Grijalva, we just might start a bomb heading the BLM’s directions. Just a thought. But right now, I think we need to do any and all we can to discredit this agency and start headlining all the KILLER BUYERS THAT WE KNOW ARE KILLING OUR HORSES..


    • What we need to do is get the Burns amendment repealed by sneaking it into a budget bill at the 11th hour like Harry Reid allowed Conrad Burns to do. Wonder if Jim Moran and others would lead the charge on that. Wouldn’t that be great to get that sick loophole to the hellhole repealed? Let’s see if we can do it. Once and for all.


  8. Read the lies. Read the subterfuge. Read the actual press stories; broodmares????? not a slaughter truck???? BLM cares????? WTH and solid gold BS! DOI knew these trolls were gonna get had by advocates and/or investigative journalists.

    You readin’ this DOI?… have been had and let’s see how DOJ, FBI scurry to save your worthless hides.


  9. We have signed many petitions. I will certainly sign more. However, perhaps we need an even more grass roots approach with citizens from each state writing letters or signing petitions on hard copy petitions or writing notes with the simple message: Stop the RoundUps Now!


  10. Gus Warr – Utah State WH&B Lead at: or
    (801) 539-4057. Please keep on this man letting him know the public is furious and will be expecting all the details of how this happened and what they plan to do to prevent it from happening again. Which holding facility in Oklahoma are these horses from?
    These horses are going back to holding where they are in the same exact danger they were before. Too bad they can’t take them to an HMA, not that that is exactly safe from man either.


  11. Save Wild Horses,

    Representative Moran is in the House. The horses’ problems are in the Senate. We need a few more Senatorial supporters. Since ROAM did not pass both chambers in the 111th Congress, it would have to be reintroduced and passed by both Houses.


  12. Just more evidence to support advocates’ assertion that this program is a sham’ and I hope those with the resources can, through litigation show that this is a corrupt and disingenuous program….Burns Amendment or not.; just as in the issue of field geldings, the burro massacres in the Southwest AND the lack of validated, scientific, independent population counts to include adoptions and long term holding.

    In fact, the passage of the Burns rider/amendment (whatever you call it) should have been litigated IMMEDIATELY as it was in direct violation of the 1971 ACT. Was it EVER CHALLENGED????!!!!???

    I realize we have a learning curve and the lack of access and transparency hinder the welfare advocacy effort, but seriously….was the Burns kay-rap EVER challenged in the courts from the get go? Congress passes code, law, regs, etc all the time that get shot down by the federal courts.

    Just another log on the funeral pyre that is the wild equine….


    • I think it was challenged immediately but the legislation went nowhere ! Can you believe? I wonder what strings the sanguine Mr. Burns and pale Mr. Reid pulled to kill it? I read that Congress was ‘outraged’ when they found out!


    • Denise,
      I did more research on your question about what happened when the Burns Amendment was discovered. It looks like Senator Byrd Sponsored legislation in the Senate and Representative Rahall sponsored corresponding legislation in the House to repeal this law. However, I have not yet found the place in the Congressional Record where it records exactly what happened.

      We know ROAM got stopped in Senate Committee after two readings, and Senator Byrd’s death.


  13. What is the difference between a slaughter vehicle vs a van moving horses to and fro–like from show to show?

    Seems to me someone got caught with their pants down around their ankles and now they are out doing damage control.

    Great that BLM got one truck–how about that lady in Michigan (wherever it was)–the one who adopted 29 horses and has since starved them? What are they gonnd do about her?


    • To question (1)…depends on whom you ask; a lying, psychotic, cruel human peddling tainted meat or a reasonable human being with some ag background.

      Yep…gonna get caught (maybe someone in Congress or the White House is starting ask questions, which means we might be getting some traction)…control the argument…that’s what DOI is doing.

      This isn’t about one truck or the whacko in Michigan. This is about the heat DOI is getting from many via Congress and WH and they are feigning vigilance. Plus their budget is about to get whacked like they do to our wild equines.

      I still maintain, BLM contacted the media source to show the proverbial “heat” that they are really doing something other than removing, sterilizing and vaporizing wild equines.

      Still waiting for a response to my Burns question.


  14. Here’s a link I found via TBTimes:

    Here is the full story link:,8599,2084328,00.html?xid=newsletter-daily

    Think the last link is Time Magazine….good stuff, but have some problems with the journalist’s terminology. Either way, Ms Pickens is taking on Nevada and BLM…just wish she didn’t have the “perpetuity plan” that requires BLM approval. Don’t know, may have something to do with permits, use and water.


  15. Hmmm..hasn’t this story repeated itself around the country? At least four or more Wild Horses through investigation ended up at Cavel before we closed the House of Horrors in Illinois. Not a soul saw the Burns amendment coming down because it was done in the early hours of the morning. The heat must stay on them all! I don’t think changing the players is going to change the ATTITUDE AT ALL! The only thing that will change this is a TOTAL HOUSE CLEANING and the creation of a dual board of American citizens with the welfare of the horses and burros at heart. I agree with the chipping of the horses, but those who deal illegally will just have the chips removed because the “Killer Buyers” don’t give a damn. What will possibly change all this is passage of strong laws and their enforcement. I say don’t let the B——–skate when caught – Sorry No Deals here – because YOU are going to serve time, a lot of time! 29 horses is a lot of horses to adopt out if there is no follow up. I think when these horses and burros are adopted there should be a stipulation that they will be followed for the rest of their lives. If adopters become unfit other options should be in place. But hell if you have 35,000 horses in adoption centers and every where else how do you keep an accounting of them or do they care. I think the later could be the case. Some in Congress may be finally getting the message. So hey all you Warriors let the War begin because we will never stop fighting for our Wild Horses and Burros! Madeiline’s achievements have been something that many of us could only
    dream about.


  16. I am happy for these horses of course, but I don’t trust the BLM in anything. They are going to use this to gain some good publicity is all. The care and custody of our wild horses and burros needs to be totally removed from the BLM, and Congress needs to get the message that we are not going to let this just go away. I am grateful for Grijalva and the other 64 members that signed, but need to get a lot more on board. 2012 is right around the corner. We need to use that.


  17. This is why we must keep chipping away. We do not know where the turning point will be or who will be behind. The disturbing events of the past few weeks are further evidence of the BLM’s cruelty. In NC we get reports about how to help our horses through the absolutely stifling heat and humidity while the BLM is insisting on rounding up wild horse families under similar conditions in the West.

    Where is the disconnect? Please call, fax, email the House Committee on Science, Technology, and Space’s subcommittee on Oversight of Governmental Use of Science. They are investigating fraud, waste, and misuse of applied science, lack of scientific integrity, etc., and they already have their eyes on Interior…

    We have two major events going on in the favor of our horses right now. The first is the budget. The second is the election. If there are enough of us in enough places, we can attend town hall meetings, send questions to Networks for the candidates to answer to bring attention to this issue.

    There is much to do. We all have different talents and circumstances. Let’s each do what we can.


  18. WTH!!!!!?? Not a slaughter-style truck? What the heck does that mean?
    Is there supposed to be a difference?
    Just by the way – do the BLM expect “Noddy badges” for this (even though they actually did good this time?)


  19. It is really hard to keep up with all that needs our attention, so forgive my need to ask for an update on this KUNZ from Willard, Utah suspected slaughter-bound truck full of BLM horses. Does anyone know the current status of these horses and what HMA they came from or of an arrest and court case on this? What is BLM’s statement on this? Thanks.


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