Horse Health

BLM to send wild burros to Guatemala to become beasts of burden?

by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Copyright 2014    All Rights Reserved.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is planning to send America’s supposedly “protected” wild burros to Guatemala, where the once free-roaming wild burros may well become beasts of burden for poor rural Guatemalans with, most likely, little spare income for farriers or veterinary care (if there were any even available).  Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in Latin America.

BLM plans to ship the burros about 2, 000 miles.  The food for burros will certainly differ between the USA and Guatemala.   The BLM recently had about 80 wild mare’s die, supposedly from stress, shipping the mares from one location to another WITHIN KANSAS.

Will the burros be shipped by ground, through regions with drug gangs?  There are many human rights violations in Guatemala, so why would American burros be safe in this environment?

The BLM’s “From the Public” page, states this:

Question: Is the BLM looking into a wild burro-related partnership that would benefit small-scale farmers in Guatemala?

Answer: Yes, the BLM, which is dealing with limits on its off-range holding capacity for wild horses and burros, is exploring the feasibility of a wild burro-related partnership with the Defense Services Cooperation Agency and Heifer International (  

To begin with, there isn’t a “Defense SERVICES Cooperation Agency” listed anywhere on the internet, but there IS a DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

Anyhow, putting this (seemingly) error aside, the BLM goes on to state:

The prospective partnership would provide gentled, sale-eligible wild burros under BLM management to assist communities and farmers in Guatemala, where burros are prized working animals and expensive for families in poverty to buy.  If the partnership were to move forward, the gentled burros would help carry water, crops, and other supplies.

I wonder if the BLM realizes that a terrible problem for equine already exists in Guatemala, and humane organizations are trying desperately to help?


American Veterinary Medical Association volunteers in Guatemala have often encountered severe saddle sores in horses.


World Horse Welfare observes “Working hard to transport crops through dense forests, these horses often have high physical demands placed upon them.”


And “During our research it became clear that the horses of Zaragoza worked long days with cracked, misshapen hooves and poorly-fitted shoes, which were often too small and causing pain. Many had wounds caused by ill-fitting harnesses and were in very poor bodily condition. It was frequently clear that the owners did care for their horses, but lacked the necessary skills and knowledge to look after them properly.  This, coupled with the fact that skilled, locally-available farriers and affordable saddlers did not exist, meant that horses working in the Zaragoza area were enduring a life of unnecessary suffering.”

The Brooke Organization states “Reaching working horses, donkeys and mules and their owners and users in much of Guatemala is hard because of the mountainous terrain which can create access problems and the distances between communities can be large.”

So HOW in the world does the BLM, or its partners, plan to closely monitor the care of the American wild burros, and HOW OFTEN will they monitor them?

Animal Aware  states “Animals are generally not well treated in Guatemala. They are usually regarded as something which serves a purpose – as food, or as a source of work, such as carrying loads, or guarding the house. A domestic animal is often not so much seen as a pet, but as a status symbol. Guatemala is a poor country, and conditions are tough and life difficult for many people. Poverty combined with a non-benevolent attitude towards animals makes for a largely unhealthy situation, for domestic animals, and for animals in general.”

Wild Horse Freedom Federation does not think this BLM plan is in the best interests of American wild burros and calls for an immediate halt to this plan.  There is no possible way for our burros to be adequately monitored in Guatemala.

70 replies »

  1. Oh how horrible for these Burro’s my experience with Guatemala, in general, is their treatment of animals is horrendous. This gets more disgustingly down right stupid what BLM does. Why can we not stop the special interests groups from doing this to our Wildlife? What is it we can or have to do to get our voices heard?


  2. Shipping those burros to Guatemala is a sure death sentence. NO IFS OR BUTS>……I just returned from a month in Guatemala….and was horrified at the condition of the horses I saw there…..they used them for tourists to ride. I was staying on Lake Atitlan and tried to discourage anyone I met from patronizing the horse vendors. THOSE BURROS WILL BE MISTREATED AND DIE. Period…..bottom line. Horrible that our government would allow this. Do you all know about the genocide that happened most recently in Guatemala>>>>???? they killed their own people…..I met an indigenous man (Mayan) who witnessed the killing of people in his village…….and went to the United Nations with testimony of these people……read about what happened in Guatemala. If they treat their people like this… do you think they will treat a “beast of burden?” This must be stopped…..


    • Golde, thank you for your first hand account of how horses were treated in Guatemala. Burros in remote areas where there are probably no vets will probably fare worse.


    • Golde, thanks for sharing this. I am recalling here the recent passionate testimony from Tim Harvey (a member of the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board) which stated the opposite characterization of how burros are treated in Guatemala. Have you written him with your first-hand evidence? It may be helpful!


      • Yes, Tim was adamant that the burros would be treated with the utmost care. Anyone with a little idea of what it is like to live in a third world country knows better.


      • Elaine, Tim is the humane representative on the board, and said he had spent a number of years there, so his opinion surely carries some weight. I do not know the truth but we have here two people with first hand knowledge and opposite characterizations. Perhaps the uncertainty is reason enough to keep America’s burros on American soil?


      • I did some research before launching the project, and spoke with two people who had spent extended periods of time in Guatemala. Their experiences were very different from Tim’s. They both said that there’s not enough food for people, much less anials. Animals are not revered in any way, and used up and thrown away- or eaten. There is no sense of animal welfare there at all. Survival of the fittest is the call of the day, and animals are a means to that end. I understand about humans being driven to survive and thrive, but I don’t think it’s right for our rare, wild equines to be the tokens presented by the US to show that we have compassion. We can do other things to help the Guatemalans.


      • Yes, I know who Tim is, but one of the reasons I never donate to Heifer who will have control of these burros is that they send animals to third world countries not for the eggs or milk but for the meat produced by them. And if you think that is not true remember no animal produces milk until they give birth and half are males with no future by death.


    • Golde I too spent nearly a month there and travelled through the mountains and spent time in Guatemala City. Antiqua was a treacherous ride on the side of a mountain. There is truth in what you say about how the Mayans are treated too. They are truly oppressed. They also hire the police to go out and grab the orphan children at night and have them meet with “accidents” so that they are not on the streets to steal. There are no social safety nets there. People suffer, and the animals suffer even more. I do realize how much having a donkey means to the people who need them most. If this is what Heifer International strives to do they need to contact The Brooke and set up a breeding program there whereby the people can have an animal once they have taken a course in their care. Leave our wild burros here in the States. As it is 8,000 (BLM numbers) is nearing extinction. We should not be having this conversation. They should be on the range where they belong.
      Marjorie Farabee


    • Sold for $10. each?? R U kidding?? This is so bizarre & beyond my comprehension here!! Hurray for the BLM…. duh? This misguided Government Agency!!! They are allowed to continue on here?… while our government is on to their other PRIORITIES! DOES ANYONE LISTEN ANYMORE????? Once again, feeling very ANGRY! but hoping that VERY LOUD VOICES WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR THE INNOCENT ONES!!!!! MANY UGHS!!!


    • GG, is a burro considered the same AUM demand as a single horse? If not, how are they considered by the BLM, half a cow? Half a horse?



    “BLM is undertaking a pilot program with the Department of Defense and
    Heifer International”

    In 2012, Heifer International spent more than a million dollars on professional fundraising fees. That figure jumps to more than $22 million when printing, distribution, processing, and other fundraising-related costs are included. According to Heifer International’s most recent 990 public tax form, they spent $22,359,441 on fundraising alone in one year.

    GiveWell charity rating organization deemed in their evaluation of Heifer International that the organization lacked sufficient transparency and priority programming to secure GiveWell recommendations or funding. Quoted from the GiveWell website are concerns about animal gifting in general.

    Former Indian minister for social welfare and animal protection, Maneka Gandhi, stated: “Nothing irritates me more than charities abroad that collect money and purport to give it to women or children or for animals in Asia or Africa. Very little reaches the country or the cause for which it is meant. Most of it goes toward their own ‘infrastructure,’ which means rent, staff, travel and ‘investigation’… This is cynical exploitation of animals and poor people.”


  4. These animals shouldn’t be for sale or donation for any reason. This is a bald-faced attempt by the idiocracy that is BLM to further absolve themselves of any responsibility for them.
    Wild horses being taken off their ranges for capricious reasons is bad enough, but for burros, the ridiculousness is unfathomable. Smaller in size and in number, with different dietary requirements – socially-speaking, they bear little resemblance to their cousins – how is it THEIR management is even more mindless and brutal?
    I continue to find it disturbing that this agency cannot bring itself, not even a little, to advocate for these animals in any way. But to attempt to rid themselves of the inconvenience of animals they removed – for no reason good enough – under the guise of false ‘charity’ is criminal.


    • Could not agree with you more!! HOW CAN WE STOP THESE IDIOTS? I have seen a few comments in editorials in my local newspapers…. but not enough?? The American Public has no idea how much money is being spent by the BLM, nor do they have any idea about how much the American taxpayers are spending for the abuse re: BLM & what they do to the innocent ones re: the inhumane, cruel round-ups. It is very sad that if we make comments that we are all labeled as just another “ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST”. And we are generalized as belonging to orgs. such as ” PETA”…. Honestly, the American Public has no clue what is going here… Our mission is “TO NEVER GIVE UP” & ALWAYS FOLLOW THE ORGS. WHO BELIEVE… WE CAN DONATE $ TO THE CAUSE & VOICE OUR OPINIONS! BUT, MORE IMPORTANT…. NEVER, EVER GIVE UP ON THE INNOCENT ONES… FOR WE ARE THEIR VOICE!!!!! BLESS ALL OF YOU WHO BELIEVE!!!!!!


  5. So sick of this gov’t agency acting so arrogant and recklessly with little regard for the animals they should be protecting, and why isn’t Congress interested,so sad and disgusting!!!


  6. what has happened to our voices, our congressmen used to send us back a reply to a letter written . after a month still not even a can letter. it is so sad what this government has done to our America,i wonder how much someone must hate us so to do this to us . everything that is dear n near our hearts is being torn away. with no body listening who do engage to help with this matter, where is the our national humane society —why are they not saying anything and they haven’t said anything for a very long time. why are they not beside us when the mares died and where they on this plan????


  7. On Monday, August 25, after hearing Joan GuiIfoyle enthusiastically speak about the plan to send our wild burros to Guatamala, we (Fleet of Angels) launched a campaign to find buyers for the BLM sale authority burros, and get them to safe homes before BLM could ship them out. As of this evening, I have applications in hand for over 60 burros that will be going to private homes, and more applications are coming in every day. I reached out to an advocate/donor who has agreed to purchase and care for any remaining sale authority burros after this campaign has run its course- as long as that number is not unreasonably high.

    BLM currently has almost 200 sale authority burros available, scattered across the west, but the majority are in a private holding facility in Axtell, Utah. Fleet of Angels transporters will assist with getting the burros to their homes, with some financial assistance from the Platero Project (HSUS).

    It is our intention to find homes for every single sale authority burro, and get them to those homes. We need more people to step up to purchase the remaining burros (They’re $25.00 each), and we VERY much need donations to help cover the cost of fuel so our ‘transport angels’ can run these missions. (In most cases, large groups of burros will be shipped to regional drop-offs, and FOA members will transport them to individual homes from there.)

    There are legal and political efforts in the works on this matter. Our buying ALL current sale authority burros will assist in thwarting BLM’s plans for some time, and will generate time to create longterm barriers to this concept of exporting America’s wild equine via legal/political solutions to this problem.

    If you would like to take this opportunity to add to your equine family (We suggest that you take two burros unless you already have burros.), please email me (Elaine Nash) at for an application form. If you receive one, please return it to me. Don’t send it to BLM. We need to deliver applications in packages for the best impact.

    If you can assist with funding fuel for the transports, please donate to through (*FOA is a registered non-profit, with tax-exempt status in progress. Donations may be deducted retroactively after IRS approval is granted.)

    We have a Facebook event page to support this effort, and where updates can be found. Please friend me if we’re not friends, and I’ll send you an invite to the page.
    Keep America’s Wild Burros in America!

    (Note: It was BLM’s intent to fly the burros to Guatemala via military cargo planes. Imagine the terror that would arouse in the mind of a wild burro!)


  8. Truly despicable pieces of work !!! the BLM, they are not fit to dust off the Burros hooves, muchless manage them…………….They should be wearing shackles !!!!! If anyone one is going, they should be the ones going to Guatemala, lets Vote on it~~~~~~Ill pay their way,,,,,,,,,,


  9. What is wrong with the BLMs brains! What will those people do with100 WILD burros? Eat them? Abuse them? Stockpile them without shelter? Will BLM go check on them every year? Provide vet care? And the real “asses” are………..


  10. Slightly off topic but I am wondering about this (below), off the site, which evidently requires any possible bidders for long or short term holding facilities to be based east of the Mississippi River… why? The 1971 WHB Act expressly specifies they are to be managed where they were then found… which wasn’t along the Mississippi River. I’m wondering a few things; why along the river (for easy shipping?), how it can be legal to exclude people west of the Mississippi from bidding to pasture these animals “humanely” as they declare, and how shipping burros to Guatemala can be considered anything but illegal according to the 1971 law.


    “The BLM’s bidding requirements are posted in solicitations L14PS00777 and L14PS00792, the details of which are available at To obtain the solicitation: (1) click on “Search Public Opportunities”; (2) under Search Criteria, select “Reference Number”; (3) put in the solicitation numbers (L14PS00777 and L14PS00792); and (4) click “Search” and the solicitation information will appear. The solicitation form describes what to submit and where to send it. Applicants must be registered at to be considered for a contract award.

    The BLM is also soliciting bids for multiple short-term facilities accommodating a minimum of 150 wild horses and/or burros in a safe and humane condition. Each short-term facility, which must be close to and readily accessible from a major U.S. interstate or highway, must be able to provide humane care for a one-year period, with a renewal option under BLM contract for four one-year extensions. The animals will remain in a short-term holding facility until they are adopted or can be transported to a long-term pasture. The solicitation is open until August 29, 2014.

    The states (which border or are east of the Mississippi River) under consideration for this short-term holding solicitation are: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

    The BLM’s bidding requirements are posted in solicitation L14PS00793, the details of which are available at: To obtain the solicitation: (1) click on “Search Public Opportunities”; (2) under Search Criteria, select “Reference Number”; (3) put in the solicitation number (L14PS00793); and (4) click “Search” and the solicitation information will appear. The solicitation form describes what to submit and where to send it. Applicants must be registered at to be considered for a contract award.

    In its management of wild horses and burros under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the BLM is implementing recommendations made by a June 2013 report of the National Academy of Sciences. For instance, the BLM is taking actions to increase the use of population growth-suppression measures on overpopulated herds roaming Western public rangelands and implementing methods developed by the U.S. Geological Survey for more accurate population estimates.”


    • It’s almost as if the BLM doesn’t take the weather in these states into consideration. What about hurricanes in the south? Temperatures in Minnesota and Wisconsin are below zero in the winter time. The BLM uses NO common sense. And it seems they could care less if the horses and burros suffer or die.


    • The east of the Misssissippi location became public in the Salazar plan to move horses out of the West? The highly paid crook now officially working for BP rather than settling up BP by signing right-of-way leases, making deals with the Sierra Club, creating fraudulent scientific reports to submit to a federal judge (after being Colorado’s state attorney-general-no less) came to the decisions with his friend and fellow fraudsters that horses do no belong in the West.

      LOL then COL if they did not belong in the West, they would not have to be sent across the widest waterway in the United States to keep them from coming back. These tracked out fraudsters can say and do whatever they want to do, and we have absolutely no power to stop them because they are so devoid of any kind of moral or ethical compass.

      But it will take a lot of people to wake up and realize that David Koch’s interest in ancient North American dinosaurs and other vertebrates like the mastodon means he spends a lot of his time standing right next to an entire collection of fossil horses that were collected in the western United States and that he knows darn good and well that there were lots of times when their were land bridges between the continents because there are very big globes with different species traveling from continent to continent during the history of the Earth, in other words, part of the Koch science that Senator Reid, official Lady Macbeth for wild horses, feels so threatened about is based on the research that shows our horses and other mammals (even camels) have traveled across the Holoarctic Horse lands (as they are referred to time and again when speaking of latitudes). Senator Reid wants everyone to believe that the world has always been as it is now. This is not what the science says. The animals traveled from continent to continent and they took seeds, spores, and insects with them.

      Which is the reason Al Gore’s cynical biological diversity eradication machine to save biological diversity is such a total crock of Monsanto poisoned stew.


  11. If there is any question about what happened in Guatemala….read this(link below)…..and the US government helped them do it!….There is no compassion….only greed in what is behind these actions…….shipping burros via aircraft to Guatemala????…….take that money and use it for the burros…not against them. Thank you to all the angels that read this blog and are helping them……my god, what incredibly stupid people we have running the BLM.


  12. On a serious note, I think we need to keep our wild horses and burros alive and we need to keep them here. There are a variety of crises around the world and within our homeland right now. If terrorists would strike our infrastructure damaging our ability to access fuel or transport fuel or tie up all of our computerized systems, we know that we could go to our horses and burros–as wild as they are, and we could find them, distribute them regionally or to states where they needed and we could still produce food—granted not as much, but we could survive. We should protect our horses and burros as part of our national security. Water will need to be transported. Building materials transported. Medicines and other goods transported over difficult land routes.

    On the other hand, as a human that believes that animals, especially our burros find some pleasure in serving humans and I believe that we humans have a responsibility to care for each other, if there were a plan in place for veterinary care and some restrictions on work hours, equipment, and we knew the animals would be sufficiently cared for, I would not be opposed to perhaps leasing a group of 100 burros that could work three month shifts of 25 burros at a time, returning to grazing in the the three off months or four months on, two months off. But this would require human personnel and oversight. Several veterans that have experience with equids and caring for equids could possible be hired to manage the burros. This would be a win for our veterans, a win for the poor of Guatamala, and would add more value to our equids currently languishing in long term holding.

    I have a friend that makes several trips to Nicaraugra a year, and when I showed her that a picture of a horse at our rescue, her response was, ” That’s how all the horses in Nicaraugra look.”

    One of the issues that I have with the UN is that the world is filled with natural resources. Africa has enormous masses of land that could be cultivated for agriculture, but they have never managed to get the infrastructure to create electricity although international oil companies are parked right off their coasts. This is such a rich continent, and it is scarcely populated for its land mass. We’ve been green-washed to believe that we have to empty our public lands for some sort of total world social & environmental justice. Call me cynical, if you like, but if there is a conflict on public land now,it is usually about ending a use that benefitted a few families in order to benefit a corporation from China, Russia, or some big donor friend of Senator Reid’s. Many environmental groups are funded with fossil fuel money. If they cared about our horses, they would not have tried so hard in so many ways to get the most important native species to North America removed from its homeland.

    That they have nearly completely succeeded is a condemnation of us and our efforts.


  13. For the BLM and this administration, it isn’t about horses and burros, only people. This plan sounds good to an unassuming public, who wouldn’t want to help out the poverty-stricken? But the reality is the BLM sees our horses and burros as a problem they need to dispose of, under the guise of helping the poor. The poor they are trying to ‘help’ may not be able to afford the upkeep on an animal, and it may die of neglect. But what does the BLM care as long as it is out of their hands? What a disgusting agency.


    • The difference between us equine welfare advocates and Heifer, Int’l is that they collect animals to help people. We collect people to help animals. Both are worthy causes, but sometimes are at cross purposes. In this case, the risk to the burros outweighs the benefit to the people. Besides, these burros are not appropriate candidates to be used as a temporary bandaid for the very serious problems that exist in Guatemala. And, they wouldn’t help ‘enough’ to make the benefit worth the sacrifice. Let’s send them chickens to eat and Radio Flyer wagons to carry their loads. Problem solved.


      • Let’s get even more progressive and creative and send them seeds and farm equipment instead of “chickens”, lets stop sacrificing any and all animals for only human benefit. And BTW, I am sure that any animal not of use to the Guatemalans would be killed and eaten.


  14. There are Domestic Burros in our own country that need to be adopted. People who have and understand Burros develop a very deep love and respect for them
    Just ask Marjorie.
    Our Wild Burros, on the other hand, were captured and removed from their Legal Herd Management Areas.
    Those roundups and removals have been in violation of the legal protections that SHOULD have been honored and Laws that should have been enforced.
    They should be returned to their Legal Herd Management Areas, where they belong, but….the only way to protect them at this time, is to get them out of harm’s way and into the hands of those who WILL protect them.
    For the time being, they will have to be “Domestic” Burros, but from their point of view, they will always be Wild Burros.
    A Burro NEVER forgets


  15. There is some extensive study done on the Peace Corps and the work done in Guatemala during the 60s. It seems that what helped then would help now.
    PEOPLE who have a strong desire to help others.
    People who have skills and knowledge to share have the greatest gift to give to those who need it most.


  16. That $760,000 that was donated to launch the Platero Project could go along way to help Fleet of Angels and our Wild Burros right now.
    As the recipient of a five-year $760,000 grant from an anonymous donor, The Humane Society of the United States has launched “The Platero Project” to promote the protection of wild burros managed by the Bureau of Land Management


    • The Platero Project is going to assist with matching people with burros, as our liaison between Fleet of Angels and BLM, and have also pledged to assist with funding for transportation. Unfortunately, we’ve been unable to determine how much assistance they will offer, so we are compelled to drive the funding campaign and reach out to the advocacy community for assistance.

      The funds donated to The Platero Project, when divided over the term of five years as required, designates about $125,000.00 per year in funds for their effort. They have been actively involved in paying trainers to tame and train burros to prepare them for adoption into good homes, they arrange for and assist with funds for transporting adopted burros to homes, and other efforts. It wouldn’t take long for that amount to be used up, when considering that salaries for the administrators of the fund have to also come out of that each year.


      • Elaine,
        Will the Platero Project have control and/or the final say in the screening of prospective adopters or are they going to just assist in the process?


      • The Platero Project doesn’t screen the applicants. BLM has to do that. (Sale authority burro purchasers are not held to the same standard as burro adoptors, so most people who apply to buy are approved.) The Platero Project will assist approved buyers in the process of burro selection by providing photos and information about the sale authority burros, and will help FOA with some of the logistics of coordinating with BLM for cross-country transport for groups of burros to their drop-off locations such as BLM adoption centers, holding facilities, and others. They will also assist with funding FOA transports, at some level. Not sure what that contribution will be yet.


  17. Our country and government seem to have a long way to go, as far as their antiquated view about animal sentience. This is no different than taking a child out of his or her home and putting them in an unknown and possibly abusive and neglectful environment, through no fault of the potential recipients. They may not have the means to care for these animals properly, and shipping them such a long distance will stress the burros’ health. Some may not make the flight alone. Once these animals are out of the BLM’s clutcheshands, noone knows what will become of them. It is not what the Horses and Burros Act is about.


  18. This seems to be the BLM’s preferred way of managing horses and burros – letting them accidentally on purpose die in transit.


  19. American animals should stay in their natural habitat. Why should they be sent to another country to become way overworked beasts of burden? I see so many posted pics of injured, starved burros, donkeys, and horses collapsed under weights they couldn’t pull if they were healthy that I am deeply troubled at the thought that this ill-conceived action will take place. I am sure profit for wealthy ranchers is at the bottom of this.


Care to make a comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.