Advocates decry BLM’s wild horse roundups at meeting in SLC

By , Deseret News

“They need to stop selling horses sight unseen by the truckload…”

Simone Netherlands, Ginger Kathrens and R.T. Fitch speak to Utah Press Corp. ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

SALT LAKE CITY — Multiple wild horse advocate groups called on the Bureau of Land Management to stop rounding up wild horse and burros, a practice they say leads to warehousing thousands of animals in abysmal conditions and the slaughter of others for human consumption.

The groups voiced their concerns Monday at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City, where members of the national Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board convened for a 1½-day meeting.

The nine-member citizen’s board, which includes a representative from Utah, is meeting to review issues pertinent to the program and to make recommendations to the BLM for management of the program, which oversees wild horse and burro populations in 10 Western states.

“Instead of finding ways to manage them on the land,” the groups say the BLM is now stuck in the “syndrome” of stockpiling wild horses in holding pens or pastures, where their numbers at 47,000 eclipse the animals that roam wild — 38,500 by the BLM’s own estimates.

Such a practice has led to a fiscal disaster, said R.T. Fitch, president of the Wild Horse Freedom Federation, enticing the federal agency to turn a blind eye to “kill buyers” who purchase hundreds of animals for slaughter in Canada or Mexico.

“They need to stop selling horses sight unseen by the truckload,” said Simone Netherlands, managing director of Respect4Horses.

The BLM officially acknowledged Monday that an investigation is being done by the U.S. Department of Interior‘s inspector general after allegations surfaced that a Colorado horseman had purchased more than 1,700 wild horses from the BLM over a five-year period.

The horseman admits to being a slaughter proponent but signed contracts with the agency agreeing that none of the animals would meet that fate.

Ed Roberson, assistant director of the BLM, said sales to the horseman were immediately stopped once allegations surfaced. While advocates say such large bulk purchases of animals absent any inspection should arouse suspicion, Roberson said the practice isn’t unusual.

In this case, the buyer said he intended the animals be used in movie shoots or to keep rangeland grasses short in oil field productions areas.

Netherlands scoffed at the explanations and said the BLM is “funding unspeakable cruelty” so wild horses can go from an idyllic existence on public lands to a “dinner plate.”

The last U.S. slaughterhouse for horse meat intended for human consumption shut down in 2007 when the federal meat inspection program for that purpose was defunded.

Lack of such plants has fueled a lucrative market in Canada and Mexico, where advocates estimate horses are shipped by the thousands.

The BLM says it has a strict policy against selling to “kill buyers.” Last year, the federal agency intercepted dozens of horses outside of Price they say were destined for sale in Mexico.

Groups are ramping up their calls for an end to BLM roundups because the agency is on an accelerated schedule to remove horses from Western lands due to the drought.

While Utah BLM managers had been contemplating a pair of roundups in Tooele County due to wildfire and poor range conditions, those roundups have been canceled because of more severe conditions in neighboring Nevada, said Gus Warr, BLM’s wild horse and burro director in Utah.

Warr said as dry and harsh as Utah’s rangelands may be, they are lush compared with Nevada’s.

“I’ve been involved in this program for 24 years, and I have never seen conditions this degraded,” he said.

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14 comments on “Advocates decry BLM’s wild horse roundups at meeting in SLC

  1. More severe conditions in Nevada? I guess you could say discovering a sea of oil far below the desert crust could create pretty severe conditions in Nevada. There is an ocean of water below the surface of the Nevada desert. They know good and well there is plenty of water there if they drill for it. Or is the problem that Senator Reid and Secretary Salazar are themselves feeling a severe drought, and they need to selll that land right out from under our wild horses.

    Believe absolutely nothing this organization says and only half of what you see.

    I hope some Nevadas start to visit their country court houses and find out who owns the deeds to the property they think is owned by the public. I guarantee they are in for some surprises. I do not know Ed Robeson, but the outfit he represents has broken the public trust. Over and over again. Day after dad. Month after month. Stampede after stampede.

    Mr. Robeson, if it isn’t unusual for truckloads of horses to be sold and carted across the West by a citizen, the it ought to be. There are only two reasons that someone buys a hundred head of horses, and if you don’t know who is buying them, why they are buying them, and where they are headed, you are not doing a very good good being a steward of these federally protected horses entrusted to you by the Congress to care for on behalf of the American people.

    If a teacher lost a school bus of children and had no idea where they were going, who was taking them, and why someone wanted to do with 80 children, don’t you think there would be a few questions asked. The teacher asks in the role of the parent just as you act as a caretaker for the interests of the public. Of course, this is all highly theoretically and is based on the hope that the better angels in people are acting in the best interets of the horses (and slaughter is never the best interest of a horse) and in the best interests of the American people to whom these horses represent nothing less than freedom itself.

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  2. The American people have spoken— NO to horse slaughter for human consumption, Americans love horses and will not eat them. If foreign countries want to eat horsemeat eat their own. No to transportation of our American horses to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered. What part of that don’t they understand!!!!

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  3. I listened to most of the 1 1/2 meeting. It was quite calm and almost too ‘lulling’ into believing that the BLM actually cares about the wild horses’ and burros’ miserable fates. They all acted like they only wanted the best for these animals. If so, why the years of inhumane treatment and selling off overflow to kill buyers. It is all about money no matter what. The best policy it to try to get involved in work groups to consider public opinion. Speak to your legislators to make aware to your friends, neighbors, associates, teachers, kids, peers (facebook, twitter, linked in) and anyone who will listen to this struggle and keep thinking of ways to help save these horses and burros from extinction and zero out policy of the BLM. We must outlast the ones that want to destroy the horses and bring in people strong enough and diplomatic enough to make the good changes. windwildhorse.com

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  4. The BLM and the Department of Interior are full of it. From Salazar to the lowest employee in the BLM..they all gotta go..liars, cheats and thieves..all of them.

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    • Agree!!! Sad to say, we pay their salaries and this is what we get?! We need leadership with proper management that can work in the best interest for all. Compassion and good ole commonsense would go a long way too!

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  5. How come I paid $125 for a burro, $25 for companion horse, and they are selling them out the back door to a killer for $10 a head?! For that price I would have adopted more!

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  6. This agency is running amok with no leadership — just the wrong people who care nothing about our wild horses and burros — just the green back. They need to dismantle this disgraceful agency and put our great leaders representing the advocates and start doing what the American people want. RETURN THESE HORSES TO THEIR HOME RANGES AND STOP SHIPPING ANY AND ALL HORSES ACROSS OUR BORDERS. With the right leadership and honest caring for these animals, all the domesticated horses could be found a loving and caring home and all the wild horses and burros would be at home with their families. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out. God help those who have killed our horses (the killer buyers and the BLM employees and their idiot helicopter crews) as God will see you receive what is coming to you. And, I hope it is real soon.

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  7. We need to clean house at the BLM and put people in there that care about animals! They care nothing about the wild horses and we need people in there that do care. Seems like the ones in there now only care about $$$$$!!!!!! Those horses belong to the public as well as the land they are on!

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  8. Keep after Obama & your legislators. I email & tweet Obama every day…..fire Salazar & replace with Rep. Raul Grijalva AZ who was apparently Obama’s choice for the DOI until he CAVED to republicans & appointed Salazar. Stop the roundups, remove all welfare cattle/sheep & mining & oil and return all in BLM holding pens to their rightful land. Put wolves back on endangered species list. Pass Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. This is the jist of the emails & tweets I send Obama every day. Everybody needs to do this. Don’t know how much good it will do, but it’ll sure aggrevate the piss out of ’em!

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    • Barbara, well said. I hope all of the above you said comes true. We must continue to fight for every last horse and donkey. They truly need all our help. I work so can’t do every day what you are doing, but I try to call Obama and leave messages. At some point and time, they have to “cave in”. All who persuaded Obama to stop protecting our wild horses and donkeys need to be punished as well as the killer buyers and the BLM staff. It’s about time we get “good, loving, horse loving people” at this agency (better yet, a complete house cleaning). I pray for it and hope it happens soon.

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