75 wild mares died in a very short amount of time at BLM’s emergency short term holding facility in Scott City, Kansas.
The BLM awarded the contract for an emergency short term holding facility to Phil Jennings, who has the contract for the BLM’s Pauls Valley facility in Oklahoma. Jennings has had contracts with BLM since 2005 for Pauls Valley, and the obligation amounts seemed to be mostly in about the $100,000 to $300,000 range.
The BLM Scott City, KS emergency short term holding facility contract was signed 6/4/2014, and the obligation amount is $2,030,000. Yep, that’s a jump to over $2 million dollars.
But Jennings is in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. That’s about a 400 mile drive to Scott City, Kansas. It seems Jennings may have LEASED the feedlot run by Beef Belt, LLC in Scott City, KS. So, in essence, BLM’s contractor hired a subcontractor.
(Does that seem to make Jennings a very well paid middleman?)
If a contractor leases a feedlot from what is in essence a subcontractor, then the subcontractor has no direct contract with instructions and obligations to the BLM, does it? Did any BLM personnel give written instructions and obligations to Beef Belt, LLC, which was formed in 10/1/13 (just 9 months prior to getting this windfall of business)? Or.was it only after 70 horses died, that the BLM finally seemed to get concerned or involved, and give instructions about the feed?
This was in an article on hutchnews.com:
“The manager of the corral, Steven Landgraf, one of the owners of Lakin Feed Yard, which specializes in corrals just like the one in Scott County, denied any wrongdoing on the part of the staff at the corral.
“We did our best to take care of them. It is not like we did not do our job,” Landgraf said. “As animals get older, they die. The animals that have died have all been between 19 and 20 years old. It is a fact of life; how do you say this without being cruel?”
Landgraf explained further that the organization has cows and buffaloes that die there frequently.
“It is normal to have 4 percent or 5 percent of deaths with cattle, so this does not really count as out of the ordinary,” he said. “There were 1,490 of them that came in, and, if these few died, it shouldn’t be such a big deal.”
(He also added “I have a cow herd. When the cattle get to be this old, we sell them so they can be turned into hamburger.”)
Well, Mr. Landgraf, you may not have noticed yet, but this is a REALLY BIG DEAL to the American public.
And about all the buffalo and cattle that Mr. Landgraf mentioned that died on the feedlot, doesn’t it make you wonder about the condition of the soil and any possible toxins? Did the BLM even do any soil tests or an Environmental Assessment for this feedlot before putting wild horses on it?
The hutchtimes.com article also included quotes from Paul McGuire, BLM’s public affairs specialist. It stated “According to McGuire, it is part of the contractual arrangement that if there are deaths on these private holdings, they must be reported immediately.”
But how long after the deaths was it before the BLM notified the public? The BLM buried this vague “notification” in their “From the Public” page on the Wild Horse & Burro Program website:
Question: Does the BLM ever move animals from a long-term pasture to another holding facility? If so, why? (July 2014)
Question: What is the BLM’s reaction to allegations regarding horse sales to Tom Davis of Colorado, as reported by Pro Publica?
Answer: The BLM condemns any sale of wild horses for slaughter. We care deeply about the well-being of wild horses, both on and off the range, and it has been (and remains) the policy of the BLM not to sell or send wild horses or burros to slaughter. We take seriously all accusations of the slaughter of wild horses or burros. The Office of the Inspector General at the Department of the Interior has initiated an investigation into the situation and will work in conjunction with the State of Colorado throughout its investigation. We look forward to the results of that inquiry. Anybody that is found to have violated the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act should be held accountable.