Horse News

Texas’ Big Bend State Park Sends Horses to Slaughter

By Eric Nicholson of the Dallas Observer

“First the park shoots the burro’s and now sends the horses to directly to a killer…”

Texas Park Horses become tainted dinner for foreign diners

For years, Julie Caramante was a leader the fight to shutter Dallas Crown, Kaufman’s infamous horse slaughterhouse. Dallas Crown closed in 2007, as did the Beltex slaughterhouse in Fort Worth, but Caramante, a lifelong equine welfare advocate, has continued to keep a close eye on the horse slaughter industry.

That led Caramante to the recent discovery that the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department had sold horses to a known slaughter buyer. According to documents she obtained from the agency following a tip, TPWD had sold 11 horses from Big Bend Ranch State Park to Ruben Brito, who regularly transports horses to slaughterhouses across the border in Mexico. The story was first reported in Horseback Magazine

Included in the documents Caramante obtained is an email exchange between Dan Sholly, deputy director of Texas State Parks, and BBRSP officials.

“Have you been able to determine if we can move forward with this process of culling the horse herd at BBRSP?” wrote Dierdre Hisler, Region 1 State Parks Director.

“I don’t recall receiving an answer (could be lost in my e-mails) to my question about sell pricing,” Sholly responded. “Are we willing to take canner prices for our horses? Is that all they are worth? No blood lines? No high potential for more than dog food?”

Hisler responded that the horses “are not of QUALITY,” and Sholly okayed the sale for $.25 per pound.

Kevin Good, an assistant to the TPWD director, said BBRSP has kept a small contingent of horses at the park to do various jobs.

“As horses do sometimes, they made baby horses,” he said. “The herd got to a size where it had to be reduced.”

Good said it isn’t sure if the local parks staff were aware of Brito’s connections to the slaughter industry when they made the sale and, even if they were, he’s unsure whether state laws on surplus property would have allowed them to reject the offer.

“The fact is if he’s meeting the requirements of a state bidder, we can’t exclude him because we may or may not like what their business is,” Good said.

That said, TPWD is now reviewing its policies to see if there is a way such a sale could be disallowed.

Caramante is less forgiving, particularly given the way the same state park culled its burro population earlier this year.

“First the park shoots the burro’s and now sends the horses to directly to a killer,” she wrote in an email. “Guess they don’t like anything equine.”

27 replies »

  1. Dear Dierdre Hisler,

    You have it backwards. The horses *ARE* “of QUALITY.” Their TOP QUALITIES include loyalty, generosity, intelligence, patience, kindness, perceptiveness, humility.

    It is *YOU* who is apparently not “of QUALITY” if you don’t have the insight to recognize their inner excellence nor any gratitude for their years of uncomplaining service to the State of Texas.


  2. People should boycott any “horse” riding at Big Bend.

    Also…love to see vet and/or treatment records of those bombproff equines they just sold by the pound……….a$$hats!


  3. I’m just a bit curious as to why these state workers that “kept a small contingent of horses at the park to do various jobs’ that were of “No blood lines? No high potential . . .” were allowed to “make baby horses” that were then sold without a bidding process? One of the reasons that there are so many grade horses is that these stallions are not gelded. Why wasn’t this done?


  4. what horror for these animals giving their lives to be of service to people and this is the thanks they receive? total shame and sorry to say, these morons have no conscience and no morals,slaughter is the ultimate evil fate for the poor horses!


  5. This is disgusting. We should write these awful people “Tke canners prices” He knew darn well where the horses were going. And to keep stallions in the herd!!!!! Hope that is fixed by now.


  6. This story was featured in HORSEBACK a while back. So far it has generated 64 comments. Here is one from Miss Abby, who is VERY FAMILIAR with this issue, as the Park has also been shooting the Wild Burros:

    Miss Abby on August 16, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Yes he was, and the report that there were 71 shot is based on what they wrote down. Luis Armendariz and Robert Garcia said they shot over 200 of these burros who represent the states only wild burro herd. Texas is one of only 7 states who has this treasure in their back yards. They are still shooting the burros and have never stopped despite their announcement that they had a moritorium on the shooting. Eye witness accounts tell me other wise. These people are interested in only one species, the bighorn sheep and are managing for them alone. The irony is that the loss of bio-diversity is killing the land and eventually even the sheep will die. This has played out at Diablo Wildlife Management Area where they de-stocked everything and then had to start removing the sheep too because the land is dead. Right next door (same property line) Circle Ranch is teeming with wildlife. Christopher Gill allows all species to exist including predators and his land is healthy.


    • What they dont seem to understand is every animal in the wild has a reason to be there and a right to be there, when you start to mess with NATURES Balance you start to mess with the ecological system also, You remove one species and all others either get sick and die off creating problems that you could never even dream of…..This is documented FACT , what the hell is wrong with these people, yes Stupid idiots, ???????? They are creating horrendous problems for everything !!!!!!!!!!!!! I think they all need a good ole fashioned bitch slapping !!!!!!!!!!!! Nothing works without Natures Balance !!!!!! She s damn smart and really knows what shes doing !!!!!!! Give her a chance !!!!!!!!!!! She will prove it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  7. I should have posted these comments in the proper sequence, but you can all see what is happening it the Park…same as on our Public Lands with the Wild Horses and Burros. There seem to be a few who think they own everything:

    Miss Abby on August 15, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    And, we also know that the horses were not picked up, they were taken in by an employee, and they were all broodmares and babies. These people are killers who don’t have an ounce of compassion for the feelings of the living. They control what lives and what dies. It seems to me they are all suffering from a God complex. Right now, this very moment I have been informed that their helicopter shooters have arrived at the park. “Reportedly” they intend to shoot the globally critically endangered auodad. However, I have also learned that they are targeting the wild longhorn, and they never did stop shooting the burros. There is criminal behavior here, I am sure. Now, to find a way to make it stick. Nothing lives in the park anymore. They have been cleaning house trying to kill all the aoudad, elk, cougar, bobcat and burros to name a few. Not my idea of a nature getaway without wildlife.


  8. Miss Abby is very busy right now, trying to help save her fellow Burros, so I am posting her comments for her. Do you remember when she led her group of followers into the Texas State Capitol to deliver over 100,000 signatures to the Governor?

    Miss Abby on August 16, 2012 at 10:52 am

    The local businesses will suffer, and so will the wildlife. They have remarked in FOIA docs in my possession that they do not shoot when witnesses are around. I say occupy and make their killing more difficult. Help the locals to fight this agency they live in fear of on the boarder. No joke, they are afraid of TPWD.


  9. So the state of Texas is led by a self-professed born again Christian? If he hasn’t figured it out yet, that voice Governor Perry keeps conversing with is actually the tongue of Lucifer crawling on his belly somewhere in the Texas State House. God created the burros and the horses to help man and be a companion to him, and this is how the Governor expresses his gratitude???

    While no one can know what is in another’s heart, his failure to protect the animals who exist to serve man and provide companionship say more about the character of this man than a million Sundays spent sitting on the first pew of a church.

    The only way that this will stop is for the good people of Texas to put this man out of office. Does Texas allow for impeachment or do Texans have to wait for the next election.

    Maybe this man can spend a good, long time in Purgatory watering, feeding, and cleaning up burro piles in the hottest spots on the world between and may the cries of terrified mother horses and their babies play on his internal I-Pod until he at last realizes the gravity of what he has done.

    I wish the Governor no harm, but he has remained unmoved and has failed to heed to voices of the Texas and American people. He has the power to stop the burro killing and the sale of the TPWS horses for slaughter, but like our sitting President, prefers to remain tone deaf. I pray that he has an epiphany—I don’t care where it comes from, but this behavior must stop.


    • God thought so much of his only son that he made sure that a donkey was with him at every important milestone in his short life. Donkeys were with him on the day he was born and the day he died. A donkey bore his pregnant mother to the safety of a stable. Donkeys are mentioned in the Bible more than any other animal, 444 times. The donkey is the only thing that Jesus ever said he had a NEED of. He said go forth and fetch me the white donkey foal for I have need of him. This white foal, who is the symbol of peace, is who he rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

      Our March for Mercy was during Palm Sunday in Austin. One week before this culminating event which included our white long yearling foal Nancy, TPWD with the help of HSUS announced their suspension of shooting while they conducted and aerial population survey. This of course assured them that our cause would not have any impact. And, although there were numerous reporters there, few stories were printed. However, unknown to us, HSUS was removed as a partner only weeks after the announcement by TPWD. It was not until I asked HSUS, at the Senate hearing on horse slaughter in Austin a short time ago, about the results of the survey that I learned that they were no longer involved. It was quite a blow. I feel our burros were betrayed, but that is the history for these loyal, intelligent and stoic animals. Betrayal by HSUS and our agencies who are mandated to protect and preserve the cultural and historical resources of our public lands in Texas. Can you think of any animal more culturally or historically relevant to SW TX than the burro? I cannot. Horses were not hardy enough to go without water, or forage on twigs. Burros and mules were. Their history and trails can be traced back in Texas for over 500 years, yet they are being shot.

      The longhorn cattle also have resided in those parts for an equal amount of time but they are being eliminated from the ranching program. Only a few horses will be kept now for the occasional trail rider and ranch hands needing to work the land. This park is being slowly turned into a hunting preserve and an extreme bike riding destination, which is a far cry from the language of intended land usage laid out when this land was purchased by the state.


  10. Per a quote in this article….“The fact is if he’s meeting the requirements of a state bidder, we can’t exclude him because we may or may not like what their business is,” Good said.”.

    The fact is there were no bid opportunities offered to the public or otherwise and therefore no bid proposals were accepted or rejected by TPWD for the purchase of the horses. TPWD sold the horses to a private individual without following the required procedures to sell Texas State Property, whether the property be “surplus” or not! Plain and simple!


  11. This is very disturbing and sick! Once again humans show no compassion and act like idiots! They took the easy way out and those humans should be ashamed off themselves!


    • Jane, President Obama had an A+ animal welfare rating as a Senator, he has dropped to a C since sitting as president. The fact is that he has had enormous difficulties to deal with as a sitting president, and he has delegated the responsibility
      of our wild hearts to the fox in the hen house, Ken Salazar. Meanwhile have you read Mitt’s environmental proposals? Very disturbing, very disturbing indeed. His drugged sale of a horse, his dog on the top of a car. My hopes are with President Obama although I am extremely disappointed that he has not replaced Salazar with a person who is more suited to protect our wild lands and wild hearts who call those lands home.


  12. Romney is as hard hearted as they come. He who would put the elderly who have worked all their lives at risk. It is humorous to think of him considering the animals. He is the most money oriented candidate I can remember. that means greed oriented. I have found some interesting links between land lease, the BLM, and Mormans. Not good 😦


  13. My thing is that horses are a good animal in this world. They are farm animals and ranch helpers. They help people make money. That’s the positive side of it. The negative side of it is that if we take horses away from the environment, how are suppose to make money or plant or transport in this world. Maybe other animals that prey on the horse will go extinct. The horse is a animal that we live on.


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