BLM Cruelty Extends Beyond Inhumane Wild Horse and Burro Roundups

By of the

“The whole problem starts with the BLM’s mismanagement of this program…”
BLM Antelope attack in 2011 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Last week, wild horses in Antelope Valley were rounded up as part of the Bureau of Land Management’s efforts to control and maintain wild horse population. But Deniz Bolbol, spokesperson for the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, wonders why there are no GPS devices or video cameras in the helicopters to show if all of the horses are being rounded up safely. And why roundups are the BLM’s go-to method of wild horse control when methods of birth control and predator maintenance would be more effective, she says.

Bolbol’s questions are not new, given that the BLM’s ethics of horse roundups have been a source of controversy for several years (“They kill wild horses, don’t they?” Oct. 27, 2011). A report run on NBC last week by ProPublica, an investigative journalism project, looked into the surplus of horses kept in long-term holding—where horses go after they are rounded up and haven’t been adopted. The report found that the BLM has been selling horses to kill buyers, who slaughter the horses and sell the meat.

“We knew for a long time, but now we know,” Bolbol says of the report’s claims. “Basically, we’ve heard for years rumors about the BLM and Department of Interior selling wild horses to kill buyers. [They] ship horses to Canada, and this kill buyer sells them to Mexico.”

The kill buyer Bolbol referred to in the ProPublica report is Tom Davis, and BLM records show the agency has sold Davis horses for several years. Davis must sign a no-slaughter contract when he buys the horses, but he has been on the record for years as a supporter of horse slaughter.

The horses are protected under the 1971 Wild-Free Roaming Horses Act, which states, “It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death.”

According to the BLM, the drought is the primary reason for the roundups. Carson City Wild Horse and Burro Program Specialist John Axell says that the tentative schedule for roundups, expected to carry into early 2013, could change if drought conditions worsen for the horses.

“We’ll have to see if the conditions there are worse for some horses that are a greater risk of dying,” Axell says. “Drought has affected some of these areas.”

But Bolbol says that the drought is not considered an emergency, because a drought is not “unforeseeable,” given the frequency of droughts in the region. She says an emergency is the only reason for roundups.

When asked what happens to the horses after roundups, “They go to some short term holding facility, the Palomino Valley Corral in Sparks,” Axell says. “The younger, more adoptable ones are put up for adoption. Older horses are sent to a long term sanctuary in the Midwest, where there are hundreds of acres of grass.”

Bolbol says the Midwest facility is closed to the public, who cannot verify the horses’ living conditions. She says it’s one of many questionable decisions made by the BLM.

“The whole problem starts with the BLM’s mismanagement of this program,” she says. “If they were managed in humane ways and not by removing them, they would not have this stock pile of horses they have today.”


  1. I agree with the mismanagement of the horses. Its the cattle who are killing the range, not the horses and other wildlife. The BLM just wants money. They do not care for the horses.


  2. Add this with the article from the retired employee and several others in the last few days and this would put anyother business out of business. So why is it that the BLM keeps dodging the bullet? They should be put under a complete “stand down” (a government term for stop working until you figure out how to prevent the problem) until they can get their act together and start to manage, not stampede into extinction, the last of our American wild horses and burros.


  3. The BLM actions of today will very well haunt them in the near future. Most Americans feel very strongly about the Wild Horses and Burros and they are suppose to be protected by the Government by our laws. Wild Horses should Not be sold to known kill buyers to sell them to Mexican or Canadian slaughterhouses. I feel that the U.S. Government is asleep regarding important issues. They do not want to see the truth. The Government does not want the American people to know what is happening to the Wild Horses and Burros. Thank you R.T. Fitch and all others that work hard to find the truth and report it.


  4. Justice Dept silence on this issue is deafening. Call the Whitehouse everyday 202-456-1111 demand MORATORIUM & salazoo fired! Office of the Attorney General Public Comment Line – 202-353-1555


    • Yes by all means, Call the Whitehouse everyday !! And perhaps tell them
      that ,the statement “I think how we treat our animals reflects how we treat each other,”
      by Barack Hussein Obama ,in HENDERSON, Nev. Jan 16, 2008 , is indeed chilling today, as we wittiness this Administration’s Ken Salazar/ BLM ‘s , inhumane roundups and lawless cruelty to OUR Wild Horses and Burros ,
      And we’re MAD AS HELL !!!

      Sorry if I offend but that is how this 77 yr. old feels !!!


  5. According to the BLM employees I spoke to at the Fillmore Utah meeting in July, BLM DOES USE GPS, and supposedly they videotape the entire round up. From contact to when the horses are brought into the pens. I was SPECIFICALLY told this.

    Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. We have seen bait and water trapping work. Yes, it was hard on everyone. But it sure seems less stressful than running horses for their lives. As well as small babies whose feet haven’t toughened yet for such a long hard run.

    As much as I dislike PZP I would far rather BLM learn when and where to dart. I know the window of opportunity is small. Perhaps some kind of eatable version could be produced. Something that would pass thru cows and stallions. It would only affect equid mares. Sure seems less costly than rounding up and warehousing thousands of horses.

    And by the way I AM ABSOLUTELY LIVID THAT MY HORSES WENT TO SLAUGHTER! This is way beyond not right. That man signed a contract that said he wouldn’t sell to slaughter. I for one want to know where the horses are. If he has nothing to hide then he should be willing to tell.


    • There are NO excess wild horses and burros on our/their land – thus no PZP and no trapping of any kind is acceptable … period.


      • You and Craig saw it for yourselves in Twin Peaks. How the BLM lies is incredible; an investigation is necessary.


  6. Your are SO CORRECT, Grandma Gregg. Those skilled in propaganda know all too well, that IF YOU SAY IF OFTEN ENOUGH…the Public starts to believe it. BLM has had the best publicity machine that our tax money can buy. There is no overpopulation problem and the very core of WH&B genetic viability is at great risk, as so much damage has been done to these Wild Herds already.


  7. The petition mentioned in this article is no longer online, but….we all can CALL, WRITE, FAX and raise Hell and WE SHOULD:
    The Wild Horse Roundup issue in our Western United States is controversial and due to several reasons that, when scrutinized, simply does not meet the standards of a proper and legitimate decision making process. Especially to put to death, or send to slaughter Wild Horses — no matter how convoluted the ultimate process toward the slaughter — make no doubt the BLM is responsible. This article discusses one aspect of this henious situation, the BLM’s inappropriate and flawed head-count-procedure. A Petition to Investigate the situation and irresponsible conduct by BLM employewes is available at the end of this article, the link available for the site, to sign and share with others

    One Good Example of Flawed Count
    We can assimilate one report generated by BLM, the OREGON BLM WILD HORSE AND BURRO POPULATION DATA — Report Date: September 29, 2009 (i.e. retrieved from the Internet site, as a good example. This journalist observed for two weeks the Pokegama Horse Management Area (HMA) in the southern Oregon Cascade Mountains, both on land and in helicopter. This is one of a few Horse Management Area listings on their document. This area is intermixed with logging and various-sized working cattle ranches. The cattle ranchers and logging operations are called “Stakeholders” by the BLM. Somehow the actual owners, all of us as legitimate taxpayers, seemed to be left out of this equation.
    As a “Stakeholder” it allows the ranchers to actually load and take to slaughter any horses they feel have infringed upon their land. A direct conflict of Law! Although, the HMA situation was developed to provide not only a priority to Wild Horse Herds in a given area, but protection from being slaughtered, whether it be a shipment to Mexico, or shooting the horse on site.
    Horse Brokers pay good money for a load of horses that will be sent to slaughter. An HMA provides a prerequisite amount of acreage as well as Federal Protection under regulatory and Federal Law; although, ignored by the BLM administrators and employees throughout the agency’s offices in the U.S., and most often.
    A Horse Broker in Nevada has been on the suspect list for sending horses to slaughter to Mexico for several years now, contrary to Federal Laws. BLM authorities and managers at BLM horse sites there even know the individual, allow him to do business, and yet know it is illegal.


  8. The article by Phillips perpeturated some of the most outrageous lies at the beginning of the article, like overpopulation of wild horses or only 17,000 in 1971. They probably invented this one because it was easy to rememer, i.e. the inverse of 71 is 17!


  9. Every year over 130,000 U.S. horses are sold to slaughter and shipped to Canada and Mexico to avoid U.S. horse slaughter bans. 80% of Americans are against horse slaughter. Tens of millions of our tax dollars are being used by federal govt agencies to facilitate known kill-buyers illegal access to our horses. Especially mustangs through the BLM federal office. Its time for humanity to re-evaluate what a horse is truly worth. And realize in this time of personal, social and world-crisis, how important horses are as one of the few alternative paths we have left to our own survival. U.S. citizens can contact your local representatives, senators, and President Obama through the links below.
    And Secretary Salazar here.


  10. I’ve been following the cloud foundation for 12 years, so far every report they revealed has not proven there being any compassion or responsibility in the BLM’s actions over the years. The round ups are more stressful and brutal for the horses/burros. This is where the government is digging the economy deeper to hire some one to hire another to take brutal force upon natures gift. It’s exactly where our taxpaying money is going to, if they were more intelligent they would supply valleys with water that can be supplied with from some where, there no expenses on round ups, body disposal, feed and containment. There’s different ways to organize this but for all of us with the little voices, have trouble getting the big people to listen.


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