Horse News

Is Ken Salazar and the U.S. Government Complicit in Slaughtering over a Thousand Wild Horses?

“…they are troubled by the department’s lack of response to “legitimate concerns”

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers is urging Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to disclose whether as many as 1,700 federally protected wild horses now unaccounted for were sold to a middleman who illegally transported them to Mexico for slaughter.

Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., in a letter to Salazar being circulated this week to other lawmakers to cosign, write they are troubled by the department’s lack of response to “legitimate concerns” that the government may have sold these captured mustangs to a “kill buyer,” who then shipped them to a slaughterhouse.

“It is our understanding that this investigation is ongoing,” the letter states, referring to an inquiry by Interior’s Office of Inspector General. But it also says that a number of animal-welfare organizations and worried citizens have been raising concerns, and that “as of today, these citizens haven’t heard from you.”

Adam Sarvana, a spokesman for Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulations, said the two lawmakers want Salazar to provide answers before he leaves the Obama administration. Salazar has said he will leave his Cabinet position at the end of March.

Tom Gorey, a Bureau of Land Management spokesman, said Monday that the inspector general has not yet released its findings and that “we don’t know when [the investigation] is going to be done.” But he said it would be wrong to suggest that the bureau sold any of these horses realizing they might be sent to slaughterhouses.

In their letter to Salazar, Grijalva and Whitfield point to a report last September by ProPublica that the bureau sold the more than 1,700 captured mustangs at about $10 a head to Tom Davis, described as a Colorado livestock hauler and a proponent of the horse-meat industry. Salazar is from Colorado and reportedly knows Davis.

“As you are aware, the ProPublica revelations have provoked a substantial public outcry,” the two lawmakers wrote. The letter notes, for example, that in November, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign delivered 25,130 signatures to the Interior Department “from concerned citizens around the country.”

The Bureau of Land Management is the federal agency in charge of overseeing the approximately 31,500 wild horses and 5,800 wild burros roaming federally managed range land in 10 Western states. According to the bureau’s website, these horses and burros have virtually no natural predators and their herd sizes can double about every four years. As a result, “the agency must remove thousands of animals from the range each year to control herd sizes,” the bureau says.

Since 2004, the bureau has had the legal right under an amendment passed by Congress to sell some of these wild horses.

But Gorey said that, despite the technically unrestricted sales authority of that legislation, known as the Burns Amendment, the bureau has not knowingly sold any of these horses or burros for slaughter and would not do so. He said the rules were tightened in April 2005 to require that the bills of sale contain an explanation by the buyer of what they intend to do with the animals, including a promise that animals bought will not be slaughtered.

Still, no public explanation has surfaced as to what, exactly, happened to the more than 1,700 horses purchased by Davis since 2009–nearly 70 percent of all the horses sold under the program. And animal welfare activists are worried that they wound up on the killing floor.

“We respectfully ask you to give a written response within the next ten days,” Grijalva and Whitfield wrote.

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27 replies »

  1. $10 a head, and how much did he get for them from the slaughterhouse? If BLM wants wild horses killed, the Act states it has to be done as humanely as possible. Slaughterhouses are anything BUT humane. That goes for transport to the slaughterhouse as well. How much torture must these horses endure from man?? Starting with that helicopter chase and those electric cattle prods.

    Time for Sallie and the rest of the corrupt gang of federal employees in the BLM and Interior to fess up and get what they deserve. Which will be much more humane, unfortunately, than the treatment and death sentences they’ve given our wild horses and burros.

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  2. So the “doors” to the Dept. of Interior & Sec. of Interior are still closed?! Gee, ya wonder? Salazar is waiting for his fleeing in March? Gee, ya wonder? He has never been held accountable for breaking the law & massacre of all our wild ones: horses, burros, wolves, bison, prairie dogs… And to hold the Dept. of interior’s Office of Inspector General as being a viable, investigative governmental body to do true *justice (?), when they have been kissin’ cousins with the department they are deemed to oversee? You do wonder! Grijalva has written Salazar before. No response. One does wonder, that just maybe this time, with all the flack against Salazar going to “punch out” (ProPublica), with the in-your-face enormity of the FACTS the BLM has sold wild horse to slaughter, with known kill buyer Davis a long-term neighbor of Kenny & worked for, with the WHPC delivered petition, 25,130 signatures, the decks are stacked against Salazar ?? Pray this time, the come forth Salazar…”within 10 days”…with a response to the letter, takes effect. Rep. Whitfield (R-VA) has been a well-known, big-time horse advocate, forever. Rep. Grijalva (D-AZ), a well-known advocate for public lands, environment, wildlife, is in the news as a possible nomination for Sec. of Interior. Now, all the above SHOULD require a response from a governmental agency & Cabinet member. However, we do know that both are joined as an entity, an island into itself, outside of our democratic boundary. So a response? If so, it would be an addition to the Great Wonders of the Modern World. But the DOI/Salazar are from the Dark Ages (& criminal). One does NOT wonder at this. One knows.

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      • Representative Whitfield (R-KY) — with the help of Senator Tom Udall (D New Mexico) and Representative Walter Jones (R. NC) are the only people who have managed to form coalitions that have moved horse welfare legislation forward. Congressman Moran (D. VA) managed to get the 2010 Agriculture Appropriations bill in include language banning funding for slaughter which passed in 2006 for the first time under the leadership of Representative Whitfield. I am unimpressed by the numbers of co-sponsos of bills or sponsors of bills that just sit there with no effort being made to move them forward. If you have that many co-sponsors, you ought to be able to get a hearing on a bill at least i What good is it to have 150 sponsors for a bill that cannot even get time on a committee schedule. Senator Richard Burr (R. North Carolina) and Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) got the ban on animal crush videos passed and signed into law in 2010. Representative Rahall (D WV) was the loan House sponsor for the ROAM Act that passed the House in 2009.

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  3. The Burns amendment must be overturned. I am ashamed to say that he was a senator from Montana and that was one of his last acts of defiance after being defeated by Jon Testor in the election. He long pushed for slaughtering the mustangs.

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  4. I think we all need to respect the accountability demands of a a ranking member of a controlling Congressional committee over government agencies.

    This letter is still out for signatures. I want to know the answers as well. I want to know them know before Salazar leaves office and before he leaves I want.to be sure he is not offered any “clemency” for illegally putting aside the concerns of wild horse advocates in favor of business interests.

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    • Right on, Jan! Raul Grijalva has experience that Salazar does not. Of Course Salazar is an icon for ranching and mining interests in the West. Grijalva is the man who has learned the laws and been involved with their uses and abuses for many years now.

      Government wrong doing is rampant and there is no way to check it and to turn it around with out a very strong leadership telling people why it needs to be done. I hope if we get a pro wild horse secretary that he or she will spend their time helping to fix problems that have been imbedded in the BOI/BLM for decades. Otherwise we are in for it and so are the wild ones and they have suffered enough.

      Thanks to Billy House of the National Journal for trying get it right. He almost does and this says even the press is getting some insight now.

      Thanks Deb Coffee! Thanks Animal Angels and thanks RT and Terry! You must be doing something right!

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    • Agreed Jan. No deals for Salazar, he has way too many questions to answer. Where are the horses, why did he sell out all the wild horses and allow their HMAs to be zeroed? And while he’s answering questions on horse numbers how about answering the question as to location of that 168 billion dollars his agency can’t seem to find. Time for DOI/BLM to gather at a table in front of a Senate committee and start answering some very pointed questions. Time also to explain why they still have no scientific basis for any of the decisions they make (remember now we can’t count cows).

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  5. And whilst this letter by Griljava was being written, Deb Coffey revealed more concrete evidence of wrong doing. It is the tip of the iceberg I am sure. There are so many so-called horsemen who may not take a horse to slaughter but would willingly turn their back on others buying a few to do so.

    And while we are at it, does it strike anyone odd that wild horses would be bought to be used as pack animals? Isn’t there a point where any of the answers on the applications just don’t make sense?

    My application was questioned because the drawing of the corral placed the gate too close to the overhang on the shelter. And yet, we read of applications that are preposterous and wopuld hit the shredder at animal control or rescues.

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    • Is like getting a carry permit for a gun. All it used to take was saying that you p had a coin collection and needed it to protect your collection…. All of us sane, common people see the scam but three powers that be just blow it off until it hits the fan. Well, it’s hit the fan!

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  6. The Bureau of Land Management and their boss, Salazar have done nothing but abused the Wild Horses and Burros. There might be some good ones working for the BLM but with corrupt Salazar in charge nothing surprises me. Salazar and his BLM team need to come clean.

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  7. he will be held to answer for this down the road, even if he attempts to elude us…he can run but he can’t hide and right always triumphs over evil. karma’s a bitch ken…and your real day of reckoning is yet to come. i wish we could use helicopters on you and all the evil blm contractors, who have terrorized out poor, sweet wild ones for too many years! the american public is learning of your many crimes and you’re going to pay!

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  8. The quickest most logical solution, to the long standing problem BLM has exhibited in its lack of “due diligence” in the sale of SA horses to kill buyers-(this has happened over many years)..Is to return all 10 years and over wild horses back to the HMAs from whench they came…claiming ignorance is not innocence..nor does it absolve them of legal responsability..absolving themselves of any responsability of background checking..is a complete and intentional failure to perform their legal obligations..Knowing there is little use for older wild horses in domestic use..they should stay where they are and where they provide a valuable service…knowledge of where and how to find water forage and protection for bands..requires age..no mare rises to lead mare in her youth..I have been raising horses in herds for years..I know exactly what I am talking about on a daily basis of observation..nothing substitutes for that knowledge..it becomes chaos..leaving only young horses in this environment to lead- is a disaster for wild horses

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  9. Darn tooting right he is! He can deny to he goes home to his moo moo cows. But he’s responsible for BLM. That’s part of being the secretary. And telling people he doesn’t know Tom Davis doesn’t help his case…The buck stops with him. It doesn’t roll downhill.

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  10. More lies when BLM needs to just shut up. Over 5,000 burros roaming free? I wish.

    Being the computer age we also know BLM can count the money paid by ranchers for their cattle to be on an allotment. They certainly can count money.

    Time to back away BLM/DOI. We have no reason to believe you or your itentions. Actions speak louder than words.

    Lies and removals prevail.

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    • I think they can count the money right into their pockets but not into their logs. $168,000,000.00 is a lot of money to have lost. This is money that was paid to them by such things as leasing agreements. Where is it Kenny?

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  11. The Humane Society of the US is strangely silent on this debacle. The membership has heard NOTHING of this, but were these animals dogs or cats slaughtered for the Asian meat trade, there would have been a RED alert and a contingent to Washington formed within hours to protest. The 11 million members would be mobilized overnight to protest.
    Rank hypocrisy to cover the BLM

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  12. We still need many more signons for this letter. From now till friday5pm, please call as many legislators as you can and ask them to sign onto this letter please! It is important for the BLM to know that it is not always the same legislators that are asking for justice but that they have a large base of support that is growing and they cannot just waive that off as “congress is misguided”.

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    • This will be a great test for my new rep Juan Vargas. I don’t have any idea concrete idea of where he stands on the horse issue so seeing or not seeing his signature on this letter will go a long way towards giving me this information.

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  13. Excellent! So glad to see this forthcoming letter from Whitfield and Grijalva putting the Dept of Interior officials on the spot and not letting this highly questionable happening slide!

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  14. AMERICAN WILD HORSE PRESERVATION CAMPAIGN email Alert:

    American Wild Horses Preservation Campaign
    January 31, 2013: URGENT! Please Attend Reno-Area BLM Meeting to Speak Up for Nevada’s Mustangs

    Photo credit WildHorsesOfNevadaPhoto.com.
    Your voice is needed at the January 31, 2013 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Tri-Resource Advisory Council (RAC) meeting in Reno. This meeting involves three separate BLM RACs — citizen advisory councils which advise the BLM on land management issues. Unfortunately, the BLM routinely stacks BLM RACs with anti-mustang, pro-livestock members in order to continue the unfair and destructive management of our public lands.
    If you can, please attend this meeting on Thursday, January 31.
    The agenda shows that beginning at 1:45 p.m. the BLM will give a 1.25 hour presentation on wild horses and burros and from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. they will open the public comment period where you can express your support for wild horses and burros and your disappointment with the BLM’s inhumane, mismanagement of this program. The BLM “handout” for this meeting is available here.
    WHAT: BLM Tri-RAC Meeting, Wild Horse & Burro Presentation and Public Comment Period
    WHEN: January 31, 2013 at 1:45 p.m.
    WHERE: John Ascuaga’s Nugget Hotel Casino, 1100 Nugget Avenue, Sparks, Nevada 89431
    Please attend this meeting and contact us via email so we can connect you with other wild horse advocates who will be attending and speaking up on behalf of wild horses and burros.
    Thank you very much, as always, for your caring and dedication to saving America’s wild horses and burros!

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  15. Way too many bad things can happen while this gets dragged out. More time to falsify records, more time for people to get their stories straight in their minds, more time to lobby congress ahead of the accounting, more time to find people willing to purger themselves by offering falsehoods about the sale in question.

    I have a feeling they are just focusing on this one Tom Davis case and not looking into past dealings. I appears obvious to me they’ve done this before and got away with it so now they are caught flat footed and are having to figure out how to keep their jobs, or even their freedom.

    I WANT THEM ALL IN JAIL!

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  16. Amen to that Steve..We must all keep the heat on and require documentation for each and every horse and burro. Where is the accounting…If each horse/burro has a number, why can’t they be
    accounted for? Salazar and his cronies should be prosecuted to the fulliest extent. A count for each animal unaccounted for. I’m sure that there are others. It’s amazing that those that love the horses and burros receive the third degree when trying to adopt. And yet the scum bags are given these horses at $10 a head while the rest of us would pay a fee of $200. Sure sounds fishy to me..Lets have some answers here…

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  17. http://prophoto7journal.wordpress.com/2012/11/page/2/

    The people mentioned within these executed felonies in the early 1990’s, via filing for arrest warrants, are now within many management levels of the DOI, BLM, and even USFWS. Mr. Salazar has had access to this information, with full knowledge of the employees involved (i.e. as the head management person responsible for agency conduct), and has essentially allowed their behavior to continue, after all, he is the head of it all.

    How profound to assume Mr. Salazar knows nothing! And what of the wild horses being shot in Nevada, with Welfare Ranchers hiring the people to shoot the horses, as nothing more than pests in regard to Public Lands? Or the stuffed wild horse in one of the shooters’ living room, proudly displaying his capture as a trophy – all the while BLM employees’ awareness of all of these felony situations exists, and even guests at this particular fellows home (as testimony will show in the future). So Mr. Salazar does not know about this situation either?

    Missing 1,700 Wild Horses from the Roundups
    Illegal and certainly questionable activities have been brought to the public’s attention recently, exemplified by the Tom Davis situation. It involves the BLM selling Wild Horses to Mr. Davis, which he then takes to slaughter into Mexico or Canada. Mr. Salazar has an assumed (based on much more information and his conduct) knowledge about this situation; Ironically, not only by obvious approval to BLM staff to sell Tom Davis roundup Horses’ from the Wild Horse Herds (essentially America’s horses and sponsored via taxpayer money) and selling them at a tremendous discount to Mr. Davis, but Mr. Salazar’s brother (undefined statements) lives next door to Mr. Davis.
    Happenstance of circumstance? Coincidence? An odd and ironic accident? Or should it be defined as an Ethics violation, certainly illegal behavior, and perhaps considered to be several events of fraudulent activity? Who really knows the number of wild horses sold to Mr. Davis, as no one is allowed to do an appropriate headcount of the wild horses supposedly in permanent and well protected corrals throughout the southwest as well as Wyoming, Nevada, and Utah. These corrals are BLM and BLM contractors’ access only? This fact alone generates many questions in regard to even more illegal activities.

    The assumed amount (known at this point) to be 1,700 wild horses sold to Tom Davis, and sold to slaughter plants in excess of $700 each, reflects quite a profitable run for the criminal behavior. And again Mr. Salazar’s attitude, as well as the BLM employees as well, is that the Public Can Go To Hell! But our tax dollars, sir – what about our tax dollars? What about America’s wild horse herds, sir, what about them, they belong to all American’s and not something you can do with them as you please!

    Illegal and Unethical behavior and to hell with Taxpayers!

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  18. the anti-slaughter bills were held up in committee. In the Senate, it was Kay B Hutchinson R-Tx. that kept it from being acted on in the full Senate. She is gone. we need to find out who replaced her in the committee chair.. It is Transportation and some other stuff. I’ll check it out.

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