Horse News

4 arson suspects arrested for fire on Bartlesville Long Term Holding facility for wild horses


SOURCE:  farmtalknewspaper

Northeast Oklahoma arson arrest

by Charlotte Anne Smith

Four alleged arsonists have been arrested in connection with a fire set on the Hughes Ranch in Osage County, Oklahoma. The area of the ranch when this happened is where over 1,000 wild horses, part of the wild horse rescue program, are pastured.

The suspects were observed allegedly spreading a fire along a road causing it to travel across the adjacent pastures.

Arrested were James Tonsing, 24; Stephen Land, 26; Heather Land, 30; and Levi Farris, 20. The four alleged they saw the fire start along the road and were attempting to put it out. All four made bond and were released from the Osage County jail. A hearing has been set for April 29.

A spokesperson for the Hughes Ranch said, “Thank goodness none of the horses were hurt.”

The late John Hughes was instrumental in the implementation of the Wild Horse Preservation Program and also has horses at other locations in the area.

16 replies »


    Case Study
    Suspected Illegal Exports of
    Geldings by Non-Slaughter Shipment
    From New Mexico to Mexico
    By Valerie James-Patton
    November 2007

    The other two Oklahoma BLM long-term ‘gelding only’ facilities are contracted to John Hughes, an Oklahoma cattle rancher, who keeps about 4,400 geldings between his two 2 ranches, both in Osage County, one located in Bartlesville, and the other located in Catoosa.

    In August, 2007, an Oklahoma resident and president of Angel Horse Rescue,
    reported a neighbor had come to her inquiring if she knew what had happened to all the horses that used to be on the facility at Catoosa, and claimed the horses were now all gone.

    On September 9th, 2007, I interviewed John Hughes by telephone to ask about his facilities and the BLM long-term geldings.

    Mr. Hughes stated he still had all of his geldings, over 4,000 of them, and that he had heard of the large shipments of geldings for export to Mexico under a non-slaughter listing. He said he was positive that they were sent for slaughter, but he did not think they were BLM horses. He also stated that once any horse is taken into long term holding, they are never again for sale or offered for adoption to the public, and not at any time since his contract with BLM began in 1998, has BLM ever taken or removed any geldings from either one of his ranches. He said once
    they come, they live out their lives here until they die.

    In an article released by the Associated Press on July 17, 2004, titled “Homeless Horses: Wild Animals Major Challenge for Feds”, the article stated, “On the Oklahoma plains, John Hughes keeps burial pits ready for those too weak to survive another winter. No matter how many horses Hughes buries, he does not have to wait long before another trailer full of live ones comes rumbling down the
    road.” (Associated Press, July 17, 2004, published by The Billings Gazette, Wyoming -See Attached)

    However, from the statistics shown on the BLM Facility Report, 7-23-07, there are
    approximately 11,115 horses under the age of 10, and approximately 8,767 horses 11 years and over, in all the long term holding facilities. It does not seem feasible that John Hughes should have so many horses dying, that they need to be replaced by the “trailer full rumbling down the road.” (BLM Facility Reports – Attached)

    BLM does not report the flow of horses that are sent to long-term facilities and there is virtually no way to track this flow. In other words, they don’t show the flow of horses being sent to each facility or of those deceased. One hundred horses could easily disappear and be replaced within a week and the reports would not show these figures.
    BLM facility reports only provide a “snapshot” of containment numbers, not the flow of horses moving in and out of the holding facilities.

    Click to access Investigation-Gelding%20Exports_Final_VJP_11-13-2007.pdf


  2. A few notes I have saved over the past few years:

    Per Lili Thomas, National Wild Horse and Burro Program, Reno Nevada Office
    “Horses cannot be purchased from BLM long term holding facilities except in ‘large’ amounts.”

    “In the past when there were inadequate numbers of sale animals available at short-term holding corral facilities, loads of 20 or more sale animals were indiscriminately removed from long-term holding pasture facilities with no effort to locate or remove specific individual animals.”
    Thanks, Sally
    Sally Spencer
    Wild Horse & Burro Program


  3. «“On the Oklahoma plains, John Hughes keeps burial pits ready for those too weak to survive another winter.»

    Does this mean that he deliberately kills any horses that, to his understanding and human arrogance, are deemed too old or weak to go thru another winter, instead of letting nature takes its course? There are wild stallions well in their 20s doing just fine… what if this man rules out that a 20 year old horses is just too old. Sounds like eugenics to me.


    • Daniel, there is no way to even verify the horses are old, or weak. They could be any age or in any condition, and might just be inconvenient. Even if he is honest there is no way to “trust, but verify.”


      • We would have to be incredibly naive to take these guys’ word for true without any evidence in light of what we already know e.g. re: the Davis affair.


  4. Daniel, that’s a good point. While the Public is lead to believe that Wild Horses & Burros are “reproducing like rabbits”, in the Wild…they appear to be dropping like flies in holding facilities.
    To my knowledge, most BLM long-term holding facilities do NOT have public access, so we have no way of knowing what actually happens to our Wild Horses & Burros once they are captured and removed from their Legal Herd Management Areas.


  5. I believe that the elder Hughes passed away – not sure – but Hughes Cattle is still going strong and you and I have paid them $9,355,658 in the past 8+ years including $1,292,100 on 1/4/2016. This is SO upside down because those wild horses (and thousands more) already have a legal homeland that costs the taxpayer nothing.
    And this is another place and time to mention this LAW about closing our public lands to private livestock to protect the wild horses and burros from HARASSMENT:
    43 CFR 4710.5 – Closure to livestock grazing.
    Authorities (U.S. Code)
    § 4710.5 Closure to livestock grazing.
    (a) If necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury, the authorized officer may close appropriate areas of the public lands to grazing use by all or a particular kind of livestock.
    (b) All public lands inhabited by wild horses or burros shall be closed to grazing under permit or lease by domestic horses and burros.
    (c) Closure may be temporary or permanent. After appropriate public consultation, a Notice of Closure shall be issued to affected and interested parties.


  6. As Louie posted above, Hughes said, “He also stated that once any horse is taken into long term holding, they are never again for sale or offered for adoption to the public, and not at any time since his contract with BLM began in 1998, has BLM ever taken or removed any geldings from either one of his ranches. He said once they come, they live out their lives here until they die.”

    QUESTION: Does anyone remember a few years ago during one of the long term holding public visits when the property owner told the visiting group that BLM had recently come to his ranch and removed many (hundreds?) and sent them to Paul’s Valley.

    That is from memory but I remember reading it … didn’t I? Anybody remember this?

    If so, then that contradicts what Hughes said and I think we all know where those wild horses that were removed from the long term holding facility REALLY went.

    One more question ………… how can the BLM operate above the law year after year after year and get away with it? Who makes these decisions and orders these illegal activities against our wild horses and burros? Who is the main COVER UP PERSON?


    • Found the information so I’m answering my own question – LOL. This is from 2012 when it is (now) known that BLM was selling hundreds and hundreds of our wild horses to Tom Davis … and “disappeared” and this completely contradicts what Hughes said about no wild horses EVER leave long term holding.

      “Some of the rhetoric made it seem as though the horses in this facility would never leave, no longer eligible for adoption, but live out their lives in idyllic splendor in the rich grass fields of Kansas. But I did ask and clarify that the 10 and older horses could be sold without limitation, and were at risk of ending up who knows where – at risk of being slaughtered. Paul McGuire from Oklahoma told me that only 1000-1500 horses were sold per year from long term holding, but when I had an opportunity to speak to Bob Buford myself, those figures seem low. He told me had had just sent 200 to a couple of different states, and this last year had sent 1700 to Hutchison Correctional Facility.”


        Where Have All The Geldings Gone?
        September 2007

        A letter to the editor published in the Washington Times by Valerie James Patton has exposed the stunning possibility that the Bureau of Land Management may be shipping our wild horses into Mexico under a “non-slaughter” listing. What happens to these geldings once they cross the border is certainly one of the big questions that deserves an investigation.

        According to Ms. Patton’s letter, over 2,000 geldings have been sent through one particular slaughter port from New Mexico to Mexico this year alone. According to the report, this year’s number of geldings is twice as high as it was for the same time last year.

        The geldings are the exclusive class of animal being shipped through this port under a “non-slaughter” listing, begging the questions-

        Why only geldings?
        Where are all the geldings coming from?
        What is Mexico doing with only geldings and no other class of horse?

        They can’t possibly be for breeding purposes and once they cross the border, there is no legal limitations that prevent them being greeted by a slaughterhouse fate. Geldings are also worth more by “the pound”.

        So what is going on?

        Anyone remotely familiar with how BLM conducts wild horse removals knows that almost all wild stallions are gelded when they are removed from the range. Considering BLM has removed over 70,000 wild horses and burros between October, 2001 and March, 2007, logic would suggest the geldings being supplied to Mexico may be coming straight from our own wild American Herds.

        At the very least, it should be investigated as to the where this many geldings are coming from and why Mexico needs over 2,000 “non-slaughter” geldings.


  7. Hughes was leaving the horses out on his pastures in the dead of winter with no shelter exactly like BLM has been doing for years in their holding pens. All the caretakers did at the holding pens was drag the bodies out and bury them. This is one way to get rid of a few of them but I still think that the large majority of the the animals have already been sent to slaughter. The way this is set up there would be no way to ever catch the kill buyers that bought the horses from these ranches in the act of hauling them across either border. All someone from BLM would have to do is make a phone call to whom ever was ranch manager telling them how many horses was supposed to be sold to the kill buyer. All very secretive the public would never know a thing.


Care to make a comment?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your 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.