Source: The Independent
by Jack Ferm
It’s time to dismantle the BLM, an agency that follows no barrier of law.
This agency has been one of the more corrupt Federal agencies ever since it’s founding by President Harry Truman in 1946. In their tenure over public lands, they have done more to destroy watershed than protect it, their incompetence as an agency of government has been unprecedented, and they have allowed cattle and sheep to overgraze the land to the extent that much of our range lands are today closer to wastelands. They have pitted cattle and sheep ranchers against the American wild horses and burros for grazing rights while making secret deals to sell wild horses and burros to slaughterhouses in the U.S. (before they were shut down) and later to slaughterhouses in both Canada and Mexico or illegal slaughterhouses that still are operating in the U.S. This agency has been involved in knowingly fraudulent adoption schemes and fictitious “sanctuary” herds to facilitate the needless removal of horses off the range.
This has left us, we the people, no option but to dismantle the BLM. It’s time to shut down this criminal enterprise and perhaps transfer these lands to the states with agreements that the wild horses and burros are to remain free protected and unmolested.
BLM employees and contractors have been the driving force behind the horse-to-slaughter program, which has been ongoing since the 1980s and possibly even prior. This has been demonstrated by the criminal prosecutions of horse theft and sales to slaughterhouses by such cases as have been filed in Texas, Wyoming, Oregan, and Utah. But none have been filed in Colorado, which has been the hotbed of agency corruption. See U.S. v. Hughes and U.S. v. TOMLINSON.
BLM director Jim Baca, had a short-lived tenure of only nine months as head of the agency. Baca’s concern for the wild horses and their plight under the corrupt BLM led to his being fired by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt in 1994. His termination was cheered by the Cattle Association and in particular by Mike Fusco, field coordinator of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association. Fusco said, “One down and 99 to go,” as Babbitt, whose family was in cattle ranching and tied to slaughterhouses, would request and accept Jim Baca’s resignation and put to rest the investigations into BLM degradation of the American wild horse.
Jim Baca was intent to clean up the BLM, but the cattle barons would have none of it. They have always been in control of this agency. They have since the beginning wanted all wild horses sent to slaughter. That war continues today between the horse and the cattle interests.
Baca found evidence of a number of dubious activities that warrant the call to dismantle the BLM:
—“Black Booking,” or phony double-branding in order that horses rounded up could vanish from all paper trails and end up at the slaughterhouses.
—Manipulation of wild horse adoptions where one holds proxies for a group of kill buyers and the horses all end up at slaughter.
—Use of satellite ranches where horses are held for days or weeks as stopping points on the way to slaughter.
—Fraudulent horse sanctuaries subsidized by the government to care for unadoptable wild horses deemed excess and removed from the range as fronts for commercial sales to slaughter while ripping the government off at a price of $1.10 a day for phantom horses that have already been sold and slaughtered.
One of Jim Baca’s investigations accepted for prosecution centered on BLM employees’ direct participation, with the approval of BLM managers, to sell wild horses to slaughterhouses by using the satellite ranches as holding facilities.
BLM drivers would deliver the horses to kill buyers or these satellite ranches and share in the money the horses brought in from the slaughter facilities. The money was then divided among the BLM employees who were participants in the horse-for-slaughter scheme.
BLM managers getting wind of the investigation obstructed justice and the investigation. The Department of Interior went so far as to attempt to quash the investigation: they were able to limit the prosecution to low-level employees but protected the higher-ups at the BLM. Then they interfered with the Department of Justice to such an extent that the DOJ finally just gave up, and no one was even prosecuted.
Lawyers from the Department of Justice urged that no prosecution be carried out because of the extent of tolerance for the program within the BLM for this horse-to-slaughter program, which was widespread within the agency, including those in management.
The philosophy of the BLM is “Nobody gives a damn about these horses.”
Note to BLM: We do!
By the beginning of the 20th century, there were an estimated 2 million wild horses roaming the American range. Many were shot to make room for cattle and sheep grazing. Waterholes were poisoned, and horses were hunted, trapped, run over cliffs, and killed. By 1970, estimates were that less then 10,000 wild horses still remained free.
Congress was persuaded to pass the Wild Free-roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971, brought about by a groundswell of humane organizations and individuals that cared for the plight of these animals and their torrent of mail to Congress.
This legislation was intended to end the sale of wild horses to slaughter, but it did not.
The mixed land use authorized by Congress in the 1978 amendment has left much of the range unsuitable for grazing and has resulted in overgrazing by cattle and sheep ranchers, to the detriment of that wild horse and burros that do not impact the land.
Here’s how one leg of the scam works: They capture 65 horses and only report 50. The remaining 15 horses go directly to satellite ranches where they are held temporarily before being shipped to slaughter as demonstrated in the Peer.org White Paper — a 1997 horse-to-slaughter report. BLM employees can get as much as $300 to $500 a horse or more. The sale of 15 horses brings in $1,875 to the employees, but the number of horses was probably in the hundreds for each roundup. One hundred horses at $300 a horse is $30,000; at $500 a horse, it’s $50,000.
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