Wild Horses Scour for Hay. Photo: Susan Montoya Bryan / AP.

Are BLM selling wild horses directly to slaughterhouse dealers?

Wild Horses Scour for Hay. Photo: Susan Montoya Bryan / AP.
Wild Horses Scour for Hay during BLM Adoption. Photo: Susan Montoya Bryan / AP.

Investigative reporter Dave Philipps is doing what most journalists used to do, report in the public interest.

On September 28, 2012, he released a report via Pro Publica relating to a wild horse and burro issue that is garnering a high degree of interest and not a little excitement around wild horse protection circles: Are the BLM selling wild horses to slaughter?

From everything we have heard since the Int’ Fund for Horses began operations in 2003, I believe the answer to that has to be a resounding yes. It has been going on for years. Trouble is, it is hard to prove. It is hard to prove because accurate numbers of wild horses and burros rounded up, stockpiled or moved from this place to that, are almost impossible to secure.

The figures given out by the BLM never quite add up. It is easy to see the BLM’s intentional manipulation of data and that there are thousands of wild horses missing. But where can they be? Dead is the only logical conclusion. For the BLM, who intermittently mention “euthanizing” wild horses and burros during their meetings when talking about the agency’s stockpiled equines, horse slaughter is a great solution because they do not have to kill the horses themselves then dispose of thousands of bodies.

A lot of this article swirls around Tom Davis, who is not just a Colorado horse hauler, but a well known horse slaughterhouse middleman.

Probably what has caught the most attention are these statements:

1. “Adoptions kept pace with round ups until investigations in the late 1980s and 1990s showed that many adopters, including several BLM employees, had turned a quick profit by selling the horses to slaughterhouses.”

2. “The BLM has sold Davis at least 1,700 wild horses and burros since 2009, agency records show [1] — 70 percent of the animals purchased through its sale program.”

3. “For most of that time, he has lived in the tiny town of La Jara, in Colorado’s mountain-ringed San Luis Valley, just down the road from Ken Salazar, the former U.S. Senator who now heads the Department of the Interior.” (referring to Davis)

4. ” . . . after Salazar became head of the Interior Department — the agency started sending him [Davis] truckload after truckload, from all over the West. Soon he was by far their biggest customer.”

5. “He said he had approached pet food companies to buy the meat and asked Ken Salazar’s brother, John Salazar, who is the head of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, to help him get a grant to finance the business. John Salazar declined to help Davis, and so far the slaughterhouse venture has not gone forward.”

In all our dealings with Sally Spencer, we have found her to be a syrupy-voiced viper when it comes to the wild horse and burro issue. Look at what she has to say:

    Sally Spencer, who runs the wild horse sales program, said the agency has had no indication of problems with Davis and it would be unfair for the BLM to look more closely at him based on the volume of his purchases.

    “It is no good to just stir up rumors,” she said. “We have never heard of him not being able to find homes. So people are innocent until proven guilty in the United States.”

Well done, Sally. True to form. Of course you have no problems with Davis. He is doing exactly what you expect him to do.

What appears to be the biggest lie from among all of the scoundrels quoted in Phillips’ article may be this one:

    BLM officials say they carefully screen buyers and are adamant that no wild horses ever go to slaughter.

    “We don’t feel compelled to sell to anybody we don’t feel good about,” agency spokesman Tom Gorey said. “We want the horses to be protected.”

There is much, much more. It makes riveting reading although the content is no surprise to long-time wild horse and burro advocates. It is gratifying — if that is the right word — for us finally to see so much of what we have been saying and for such a long time, investigated and exposed by a real reporter.

Read full article here >>

23 thoughts on “Are BLM selling wild horses directly to slaughterhouse dealers?”

  1. So..how do we STOP BLM–it’s the only way to get rid of the cancer and re-protect Federally Protected wild horses.




  3. VGFarrell
    They were doing this back in the nineties. I found this in some old articles. There was one guy at the BLM that was actually trying to stop it. I just dug through my files and found the information. It is one of the Peer White Papers: Horses to Slaughter. Anatomy of a Coverup within the Wild Horse & Burro Program of the Bureau of Land Management April 1997. It’s about 30 pages. Peer is called Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a association of resource managers, scientists, biologists, law enforcement officials and other government professionals committed to upholding the public trust through responsible management of the nation’s environment and national resources. Their email address is (info@peer.org)

    Any way what I found was on page 5 of the report which stated that a crack down on
    wild horse to slaughter operations in 1993 under former Director Jim Baca. BLM investigations began compiling evidence documenting : Theft of wild horses during BLM sponsored “gathers” or captures. Black booking or phony double branding of horses so that duplicate branded horse could disappear without a paper trail. Manipulation of horse adoptions where one person holds the proxies for a group of supposedly separate adopters and the horses all end up at slaughter.

    This is exactly what is going on right now. This Davis may be one of the people that was doing this very same thing in 1993. Jim Baca was forced out as director as this investigation went on to expose others. I didn’t know about any of this at the time I came to the conclusion that the ranches didn’t exist that the horses were taken too. They have one or two that they use to showcase to the public and take their little tours. They are hiding behind the claim that no one can see any of the horses because they are on ” private property ” and I say BS. The only mustangs left alive are the ones still in the field and in short term holding and the BLM management knows all about it. There is millions of our tax dollars going into someones pockets at the BLM that was supposed to be taking care of these animals.

    This needs to be investigated at the congressional level before all of the horses are gone.


    1. Yes, we have seen this type of documentation too, as well as an earlier investigative report by a journalist. It all leads to nothing. Congress held hearings on racehorse doping; I believe it may be worse than ever.


      1. If that’s the case are we to just throw in the towel and let them finish off the rest of the mustangs? As the horses from the showcase ranches are shipped out to slaughter and replaced by newly rounded up horses until they are all gone except the the showcase horses? That is accepting defeat.


        1. Dear Barbara I do not believe there is even one person here that will ever except defeat on this Criminal eradication of our Wild Mustangs !!!!! Although i can only speak for myself !!!! There is and must be an answer and a way to put a stop to this insanity !!!!! I have no doubt that with all the awesome minds who have been working tirelessly for years to stop this , will find the answer and the means to give back to our Mustangs the Freedom that should be theirs and most assuredly belongs to them…………. As much as the BLM is Hell Bent , we are Hell bent on putting a stop to this ……..


  4. It’s great to see this getting coverage in more mainstream media. How long have we been waiting for THE investigation that will prove what we all know BLM is doing? Since the last one that resulted in no grand jury indictments? If we do what some advocates say (check with and get approval from all others) not much would ever happen. The record of advocate groups getting airtight proof of wild horses sold to slaughter is too shaky to risk losing another 1700 wild equines over the next 3 yrs. Those other undercover investigations that we’re just supposed to trust and wait for? I’m sure they will now blame their failure to produce better evidence on this story going public before they were ready.
    And the charge by others that the piece was published early to meet a fundraising deadline for an advocate? Pathetic and over the line. What’s next – linking the advocate to agenda 21 and the UN takeover?
    We need to demand that the govt investigate the BLM and implement reforms to stop this from happening again. Repeal of the Burns amendment and a ban on slaughter & transport are a good place to start.


  5. If I lived near the roads that the trucks travel to take the poor horses to mexico. I would setup stops and take photos of the nonexesiting horses and post them on the internet for the world to see how big of liers we have in the blm


  6. The biggest most hurtful IE the BLM has ever told Is none of the Mustangs ever go to Slaughter???? The BLM was caught in this most vicious Lie , not 6 months ago when a truck was caught in the Middle of the Night transporting Mustangs to Slaughter !!!!!! They are a lieing vicious bunch of Criminals Hands Down BLM>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>… Just saying someday you will choke on the Lies you have perpetrated,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  7. I think they are and have been all along. We may never know for sure since the investigation was botched by ego. It is sad for the horses.


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