Horse News

BLM Criticized for Selling Wild Horses for Slaughter

Sources: Multiple, story by By MEAD GRUVER

“How long does a horse have to live wild and free before it’s considered wild?”

— The Bureau of Land Management rounded up a horse herd that roamed for decades on federal land in northwest Wyoming and handed the horses over to Wyoming officials. They, in turn, sold the herd to the highest bidder, a Canadian slaughterhouse.

Wild horse advocates are incensed, saying they should have had a chance to intercede in the March roundup and auction. But the BLM says the horses were abandoned — not wild — and that it publicized the sale beforehand.

“It would take very little to do this in a more effective way, so that horses are not just sent off to slaughter indiscriminately,” said Paula Todd King of The Cloud Foundation, a Colorado-based advocacy group.

According to the BLM, the Wyoming horses weren’t officially wild and protected by the Wild-Free Roaming Horses and Burro Act, the federal law for maintaining many of the horse herds, some of which have roamed free in the West since the days of Spanish explorers more than 300 years ago.

The BLM bans wild horses from being sold for slaughter. Anybody who adopts a wild horse from the BLM must agree to provide it a home.

The horses in the Bighorn Basin’s sagebrush hills descended from stray rodeo horses that were owned by Andy Gifford, a rancher and rodeo livestock contractor, in the 1970s, BLM spokeswoman Sarah Beckwith said. Gifford had claimed the horses as his but never rounded them up before he died in 2009. That, plus the fact that the horses never interbred with wild horses, officially classified them as strays.

“Nobody had a permit to have these horses grazing on public lands,” Beckwith said.

King questions that policy. “How long does a horse have to live wild and free before it’s considered wild?” she said.

Area ranchers and farmers had long complained the herd grazed down pastures and damaged cattle rangeland.

On March 18 and 19, a BLM contractor rounded up the 41 horses and handed them over to Wyoming officials. Within hours, the horses were sold for $1,640 to Bouvry Exports, a slaughterhouse based in Calgary, Alberta.

The BLM follows state laws for handling stray livestock, Beckwith said, and had no option but to hand the horses over to the Wyoming Livestock Board, a state agency. The state took three bids for the horses, state Brand Commissioner Lee Romsa said.

Bouvry Exports shipped the horses out of state, Romsa said. Phone messages for Bouvry Exports weren’t immediately returned.

BLM officials had printed notices on the upcoming roundup in local newspapers and posted notices in local post offices.

The roundup wasn’t unprecedented. Last summer, a federal judge allowed an American Indian tribe to sell 149 mustangs over the objection of critics who claimed the unbranded animals were federally protected wild horses. The mustangs were among more than 400 on U.S. Forest Service land along the Nevada-Oregon line that the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe claimed belonged to them.

In the end, King said, more than 160 were sold to people who planned to take them to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico, but local residents and rescue groups raised money to buy 150 of the horses to spare them.

The BLM rounds up stray livestock perhaps three or four times a year in the West. Usually they are cattle or sheep. Impoundments of large numbers of stray horses are far less frequent, said Robert Bolton, a senior rangeland management specialist for the BLM.

“That’s a pretty sizeable number and they have been out there a long time,” Bolton said of the Wyoming herd. “Normally, most of our impounds have been in the low numbers.”

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38 replies »

    • There is a law for private owned horses but slaughter bound horses as I understand it are exempt. They seal the trailers when they are loaded so they can’t be unloaded or even helped if in trouble by the truck drivers. Funny how the Feds don’t think a few flies could carry diseases anyplace these trucks pass through.

      It’s another double standard which creates a health risk for horses along any route these trucks go… I have written my elected officials to ask for a simple change in the laws to make the same requirements apply across the board for anyone hauling horses for any purpose.

      We citizens have to have an annual Coggins test done (which isn’t cheap and takes some time to get results from or risk losing our vehicles).

      The exemption also makes it handy for kill buyers to take horses out the same day in many circumstances – no waiting for blood test results like we ordinary folks have to do.

      This is something we citizens may be able to change with some attention; at a minimum we could get equal laws passed state by state, or perhaps even at a federal level.


    • I checked with the border of WY/MT
      . That’s up to the state in which the horses enter, not the one where they are leaving. So it was up to the state of MT to require health certificates.


  1. CRITICIZED is the understatement!!!!! The BLM is an agency, which could care less about life…. period!! What difference does it make if the horses are wild??? The life of an animal, is precious.. This is maddening.!!!.


  2. Hope I don’t upset everyone but I kind of like the way the Bundy story played out. If the cattle men an mustang people had a common reason to stand together it would be to eliminate the BLM. If 80% of the American people in favor of horses were joined by cattle men and many Native American tribes it would be a powerful lobby. Bottom line is the corporations are coming along with foreign interests to take the west for profit, brushing aside all of us. The water will be used for fracking for gas so the tar sands can be heated using even more water so foreign countries can put their energy sucking straws in our country. We need an umbrella organization representing our unified interests and not be segmented into diverse opposing groups. I’m against all animal slaughter even cattle but would be willing join forces be to protect the American Mustang. Any one want to join me?


    • I will Stand for the American Mustang any place any time any where !!!!!!! And I would expect everyone here would also !!!!!


    • THEY WANT THE LAND! AND THEY WANT IT FOR USES THEY DON’T WANT US TO KNOW ABOUT, AND THEY WANT THE LIFE ON IT GONE! You think what you want about our American militia men and women, but they know a lot more about what is at stake than the average layperson. Oil, water and mineral rites would belong to the owners of the majority of the Western STates…The Federal Government…and they are doing it right under our noses and it started back in the forties I imagine, and no one said a word about what they were doing, and they are still getting away with it! It will take a GREAT change to fix what has been going on, and it will take all sides of the coin to stop it! Even the BLM has been duped. Our government is corrupt, and it is getting worse…where does that leave us. Prove me wrong…


  3. Concentrate on banning transport across the borders for slaughter AND ban slaughter here. There are whispersings becoming louder that slaughter is the dead end on this road we are on.

    This news is heartbreaking. Gargoyls masquerading as friendly humans have their sights lined up on the horses. Be ever vigilant and WORK everyday to make life better.


  4. For only $40 each, these animals were sold straight to a kill buyer, a slaughterhouse. Beyond disgusting. Especially when there were buyers readily available in the US. Who says BLM doesn’t make emotional, knee jerk decisions? Seems to me they’re the terrorists.


    • Carol, obviously it’s not about the money made from selling horses, that’s just a perk. The BLM hit team just assassinated some (how many???) of Bundy’s cattle, some were bulls valued at over $10k each. I have heard there are videos of the choppers etc. but have not located any, though it seems the pattern is the same as horse roundups, with the exception that they shot cattle from the chopper/s, Australian style.

      No matter the circumstances these cattle were private property and innocent creatures, we all need to stand up against this out of control sort of animal destruction, no matter the species. If these guys had a fun weekend taking potshots at people and killing cows, then burying them (why bother?) there is no reason to think they won’t do this to our captive horses in a heartbeat. Maybe one good thing from this nightmare is that ranchers and wild horse folks now face a common enemy… and it is us. We paid these thugs.


    • And the BLM contractor is paid by the horse? So we Americans paid the BLM contractor how many thousands to do the round-up of 41 wild horses? and then probably that same contractor bought them at the auction he trailered them to. and got money again from the slaughter house. It’s a racket and that contractor probably gives a nice kick-back$$ to his BLM buddies for the federal money and the slaughter horse load.


  5. Send the lobbyist to the hill, maybe you can get through the back door like the large corporations. You can just buy your way in. How can you even be heard in such a corrupt government?



    And our Interior Secretary is out making it all about recreation, making snow angels in designer hiking gear and making money, and papering over all that is sully about her department and what is done to our wild horses, wolves, grizzlies and other wildlife. I’m shocked that people even have to ‘learn’ about our National Parks, but what are we teaching them?


  7. hey i’m with you horsedrag only if that they can drop their arrogance long enough to see the error of their false alliance . but at the same time we still need the compliance of our own state rep.s . rt the only rep . that has co-sign onto the s.a.f.e. act and the soring issue is senator eddie berneise johnson the rep from my district here in dls . we need to get those other two yahoos on board. and at this moment , i would to b.slap them and show them the damages being done to the horse ,that video has me so mad i;m shaking and can hardly type. the idiodicy they show. does anyone know about the horses that were trapped in iron county i haven’t seen anything about them/ ?


  8. I have rethought my stance on the Bundy situation. It seems the BLM is in deep Sh–. It is ironic that it may be the cattlemen who bring about their downfall.


  9. These horses were collecting through the Wyoming Department of Agriculture according to the directive in the 1997 IPPC. But it really hurts one’s heart to understand that Wyoming is one of the sites that Equus caballus fossils have been found as well as ancient horses not bigger than a cat.

    All of this suffering so that already weathy and powerful people willing to donate to Senator Reid’s campaign can have the chance to control as much of North America’s natural resource wealth they can get.

    This is the result of a deliberate and a successful attempt to circumvent the U.S. constitution and Congress as well as any scientifically literate President such as former President Carter who had a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. He refused to let FWS, TNC, and IUCN remove already established species. They knew this would never pass Congressional scrutiny or scientifically educated Americans, so they hid this in a treaty where no one would expect to find it.


  10. According to E.O. 13112, the agencies with authority for listing species not listed are the FWS and APHIS. The IPPC designated USDA as the agency of authority in the US.

    I have not received an answer to my questions about whether or not the 2014 Farm Bill removed the classification of animals as ‘plant pests.’ This might explain why the ranchers are up in arms now. It is also possible that the NAS Report had enough information in it that contradicted the alien, invasive, plant pest theory that the USDA and NAS saw the writing on the wall, but decided not to publicize it.


  11. I wonder how many people who applauded the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burro Act of 1971, and thought that the government was really going to protect these American Icons, realize that much of it was rendered useless by the modifications made in 1976 by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act. These modifications give the “Secretary” free rein (no pun intended) to dispose of “excess animals” to “preserve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple use relationship”. This modification also gives the “Secretary” the right to “cause additional excess wild free roaming horses and burros for which an adoption demand by qualified individuals does not exist to be destroyed in the most humane and cost effective manner possible”. So, virtually as soon as this Act was passed, the BLM managed to give themselves a pass to do with the wild horses and burros whatever they want. One of these modifications also gave the BLM permission to contract for the use of helicopters and trucks to transport captured animals. It jokingly refers that “such use shall be in accordance with humane procedures prescribed by the Secretary”. Do you think these modifications were given much press so that the general public would know what was really being done? But even with these modifications, the definition of “wild free-roaming horses and burros” still states that it means all unbranded and unclaimed horses and burros on public lands of the United States. It would seem that by this definition the horses rounded up in Wyoming and sold to slaughter were indeed wild free-roaming horses. The BLM must take the general public to be idiots that they can sidestep to break the law whenever they please, or should I say, whenever it profits them in any way. I’m beginning to agree that the horse advocates and the cattle ranchers need to band together to dismantle the BLM and put together some agency that actually takes the welfare of all animals into consideration.


    • Our Secretary’s idea of “humane” management include sterilization, roundups, and removals… with minimal accounting. I think snow angels get better treatment, they at least get to live and die naturally.


    • I am in complete agreement with you. There have several recent posts about how to re-structure PL management by eliminating BLM, moving livestock grazing to the Dept. of Agriculture and having a Range Resource agency to manage resources for the other Stakeholders. BLM has such a historic bias in favor of livestock – too many conflicts. I also think if you took the BLM’s WH&B budget and spread it around amongst the ranchers who are pro wild horse, and they DO exist, it would be money better spent and the horses would be better managed. Right now the BLM squanders millions and enriches a select group of contractors to the tune of millions. There is a ranch just up the road from me that runs 600 head of horses on Public Land, (the grazing allotments for horses were grandfathered in decades ago) Their allotment is adjacent to a wild horse HMA where AML is under 400 head on 163,000 acres. Originally, before BLM, that historic family ranch, managed ALL the wild horses in the surrounding area. They gathered horses annually, culled the herds for their own purposes and returned the remaining horses to the range – no big deal. They know how to do this !
      Now that there are Federal Protections for WH&B (supposedly) that would change the game somewhat. But, there has to be a financial incentive for ranchers to manage horses instead of livestock. Maybe they should be awarded the Market value of a cow/calf pair for managing 1 horse AUM instead. There’s less work involved and no hay to take into consideration. The benefits seem obvious to me.


    BLM ends roundup of Bundy cattle
    From: 8 News Now Las Vegas

    By: George Knapp

    According to sources, the BLM wants to proceed with the sale of the cattle already gathered during the roundup but is reportedly willing to share the revenue from the sale with Bundy.

    LAS VEGAS — A deal has been reached between the Bundy family and the Bureau of Land Management over the cattle that the agency rounded up earlier this week.
    After some tense moments Saturday afternoon, the BLM agreed to release the confiscated animals back to the family.
    The BLM announced it would stop the roundup of cattle owned by rancher Cliven Bundy Saturday morning. The BLM says the animals have been illegally grazing on public lands for 20 years and has spent the past week gathering the cattle from land near Gold Butte.

    The I-Team has learned the deal to end the gather was brokered by Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie.


  13. From Canadian Horse Defence from one of their blogs I was sent, their parliament is considering a bill limiting horse slaughter. From what I understand the bill has been read once and the second reading is coming up and if the bill passes it will stop US horses from being shipped to Canada because of there not being any method of tracking the drugs the horses are given. This is the reason that the EU will not allow horse meat from the US shipped to EU countries. Horse slaughter in Canada would still be allowed if the horses are raised strictly for slaughter like cattle. Even with the EU turning a blind eye to the US horses that make up the bulk of the slaughtered horses this would stop US horses from leaving this country. I’m willing to take it, it may prove to costly to raise horses for slaughter so there may not be many that would want to get involved in something like that. If this passes I’m not sure what will happen about Mexico. Also there is a Oklahoma congressmen named Frank Lucas that has been working to block the S.A.F.E ACT.
    Also contact your Senators and ask them to initiate a discharge petition to bring S.A.F.E. Act out of committee so it can be brought to the floor for a vote. I sent my Washington state senators emails to find out what it takes to do this. I know you have to have a certain number of congressmen/women willing to sign on to do this.


  14. It does seem very strange that they refused to sell the Horses to Ginger…WHY?

    “Kathrens called the Bouvry Exports Shelby facility in an attempt to negotiate purchase of the 37 horses. The woman who answered the phone would not confirm that the horses had arrived in Shelby and told Kathrens that “these horses were rounded up and removed for slaughter and that is where they are going.”

    Kathrens offered to pay more than the going price and was told that this was not possible”


  15. …and then there’s this part

    “Jack Mononi, Supervisory Rangeland Management Specialist for Cody BLM, told Todd-King that if the Agency did not spend the federal dollars by the end of March, the funds would no longer be available.”


  16. It is well known that people who wantonly kill animals for no other reason except to kill them will also do the same to human beings. These government people, irregardless of their department sound like a bunch of sociopaths using their positions to take over land in anyway they see fit for the likes of Harry Reed and other corrupt elected officials. Maybe we should start hunting down some of these twisted people in order to protect ourselves from becoming treated like their current prey.


  17. Found this today on the AWHPC site… it’s only a token but maybe this is something anyone living in a town with a Mayor could duplicate. It would start to make more people aware of what is going on and might start a slow trickle which could help with national legislation being passed:

    (can’t post the image here but here’s the link:)


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