Mustang Monument Resort wild horses.

Spectre of slaughter haunts wild horses as BLM begins to run out of money


We recently celebrated another anniversary and are going into our 14th year.

During the intervening years we have witnessed the demise of many a wild horse herd and the emptying of entire herd management areas (HMAs).

All along the people at the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) who are responsible for running the wild horse and burro program have lied about the numbers of equines on public lands. They have manipulated the numbers in order to carry out brutal, often deadly and unnecessary roundups stockpiling these animals around the country wasting millions of taxpayer dollars, among other atrocities.

There is supposed to be a three strikes and you are out policy for wild equines languishing in the federal government’s care thanks to the late Senator Conrad Burns. Three strikes and you are out meaning if the horse is not bought or adopted after three attempts the horse can be sold or given away to anyone including the meat man.

When is the last time you heard about a BLM adoption event? We have people who check on this as a matter of routine. They seldom have anything to report. The few that do happen are not well organized, advertised or attended.

The BLM have never been very good at this. But shouldn’t the BLM be having dozens and dozens of these auctions according to the law? When I asked a BLM employee I got on the phone he stammered and said, uh, oh they are too expensive. We can’t really afford to do them much anymore.

That’s the age old problem isn’t it?

Not very long ago the BLM cautioned the public via its Advisory Board that they were going to have to “euthanize” 45,000+ of the horses they have stockpiled in order to get the wild horse and burro program back under control and stop hemorrhaging resources.

By the way, the number the BLM threatened to kill since then has now escalated to 77,000+ intended victims. That is not planned euthanization. That is a planned massacre.

Predictably there was the usual hue and public outcry. So the BLM reneged and said okay, we won’t kill them.

Many of those who care about America’s Mustangs heaved a big sigh of relief. However, the savvy among us were not fooled.

First of all this is pretty routine for the BLM. The BLM have threatened to kill off masses of wild horses caught in their malignant grip before and later recanted. This is their typical smoke and mirrors routine with the public.

While this has been going on over the years, it has continuously been alleged that BLM employees or their agents are indeed selling wild horses to slaughter.

Those of you nodding your heads as you read this of course are remembering the person at the center of one of the most prominent of these reports – Tom Davis – who by the way was never prosecuted and probably not even questioned concerning this — a federal crime. And yes, this would be Tom Davis, the former ranch hand of then Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

There are those no doubt who are thinking that it’s probably only a handful of wild horses here and there that are being sold to slaughter by a few rogue BLM employees or their partners in crime. If that’s right then why did the BLM just enter into a long-term contract with a feedlot in South Dakota? According to wild horse advocates who claim to know, it appears that this is one of many such deadly arrangements. Again, smoke and mirrors.

The reason I am revisiting this issue is to respond in some part to the recent New York Times article by Dave Philipps, dated October 14, 2016, entitled “Success Spoils a U.S. Program to Round Up Wild Horses”.

Wait a minute.

Isn’t this the same Dave Philipps who confronted Ken Salazar about the wild horse and burro program, who took it none too kindly, erupted and threatened Philipps in front of witnesses and a rolling camera? Yes, I believe it is. So Philipps knows what really is going on here.

He writes:

“The agency now finds itself buffeted on all sides by lawsuits. Ranchers who share the range are demanding that horse numbers be brought down to prescribed levels. Animal rights groups are demanding an end to roundups and darting.”

Guess who is chief among these range-sharing ranchers? Millionaires and billionaires. And they certainly do want to dictate what those prescribed numbers are.

A public lands rancher who I have come to know a bit over the years, whose leases have been in his family for several generations, told me that it is these “rich, fat cat corporate types” who are demanding more and more land – they are the ones the BLM are emptying the HMAs for.

Now. What about this?

“In September, the advisory board toured a wild horse herd area in Nevada that had not been grazed by cattle in eight years. Sue McDonnell, a board member who teaches equine behavior at the University of Pennsylvania, said she opposed euthanasia until she saw the battered grasses and invasive weeds.

‘It was awful,” she said in an interview. ‘A lot of that land is under severe stress. If we don’t act now, there will be parts that will be lost effectively forever. The horses will die, other wildlife will die, and that will be that.’ ”

So McDonnell has changed her mind and is ready to kill these horses who have been robbed of their freedom, their families, the only lives they have ever known, held captive and made vulnerable to the whims of humans like her. Tragic.

Let’s talk about those “battered grasses and invasive weeds” that has brought on this treacherous about face by McDonnell.

It was the cattle that caused that situation. Not the horses. When there is nothing left to graze the ranchers move the cattle on leaving this type of devastation behind. Not surprising that they walked away eight years ago and never looked back. Yet the horses are being blamed.

I will wind this up with the following.

Concerning the BLM’s self-inflicted dilemma, Philipps writes, “In short, the agency cannot break its cycle of storing horses because it is too busy storing horses.”

This is a situation that the BLM created all by themselves. Killing will not solve it but it will get the BLM where it intends to be — with no wild horses or burros to manage at all.

It may sound contradictory at first, but the BLM were never going to “euthanize” 45,000 or 75,000 wild horses. How could they? How could they even begin to dispose of that many carcasses? It would be a logistical nightmare.

The mistake they made this time around is a financial one. The BLM have little to no money left to continue with their agenda of mass destruction. There is however a surefire way of getting rid of a huge amount of horses without having to worry about disposal. Its name is slaughter.

However the EU, who recently revisited their original six month “quarantine” idea from many years ago before deserting it for the failed EID (Equine Identification Document) issued a mandate stating that horses being moved from the US to Canada for the purposes of slaughter must “reside” on Canadian soil for six months prior to slaughter. The EU may have inadvertently thrown a monkey wrench into the BLM’s plans.

That leaves Mexico as the only seemingly unhampered alternative for slaughtering horses in North America today.

There are reportedly no EU regulated plants in Mexico. However, the non-EU regulated plants are doing a booming business.

What I want to know is how are these Mexican slaughterhouses legally exporting the meat without the necessary inspections required for human consumption?

Perhaps that is a question an official should put to Claude Bouvry. Horse meat is freeze packed and could be easily routed through Canada and that country’s seal or “stamp” put on it before sending it on its way.

Here’s another thought.

Since the US and Mexico have a free trade agreement perhaps the USDA should be testing food products for horse meat that claim to be made with ground beef.


“Success Spoils a U.S. Program to Round Up Wild Horses”, by Dave Philipps; New York Times; October 14, 2016. See

“New European rules may hinder Canadian horse meat exports”; by Robert Arnason; Western Producer; September 29, 2016. See

“Wild horses, federal grazing and America’s billionaire welfare ranchers; Tuesday’s Horse; March 30, 2015. See

“Witness: Salazar threatened Colorado reporter”; by Byron Tau;; November 13, 2012; See


Mustang Monument Resort Wild Horses.

21 thoughts on “Spectre of slaughter haunts wild horses as BLM begins to run out of money”

  1. I’m shuttershocked over Dave Phillips’s recent article. I truly believed that he was on the side of our wild ones. What could make a supposed champion of these animals change the way he did? Did he lack conviction? Was he bribed? Was he threatened with loosing his job?

    Remember, Vickery Eckhoff got fired from Forbes after publishing an article regarding Cliven Bundy and how wild horses and cattle utilize the range differently. Or was he wolf in sheep’s clothing the whole time?

    I recall a comment by someone around the time that his America Unclassified series came out that stated in other words that he was disingenuous, he was in journalism for himself. Still, I’m in utter disbelief.

    Now, as far as the “battered grasses and invasive weeds” are concerned, maybe there wasn’t any cattle grazing there for eight years, but was there any other land uses and/or climatic conditions that could have deteriorated the range like sheep grazing, drought, off-roading, etc.?

    And how come advocates usually have photo and video documentation of cattle in deteriorated areas but when it comes to wild horses the anti-Mustang and burro folks almost always take photos of barren rangelands with no animals on it and blame on the horses?

    The hypocrisy is almost hysterical.


  2. Why can’t the BLM let the advocates help with adoptions and rehoming of the horses in long and short term pens? With all of the great work that a lot of advocates are already doing working with kill pens and all that entails, these horses could really get to the right place and more could be returned to the public lands where it is now known they can be.
    Pay people who love these animals to find the right homes and won’t it create a business that can work for everyone? I, as a taxpayer would love to see my tax dollars go to something that could work for all involved, not just ranchers or not just killbuyers, or not just greedy corporations who are willing to feed an unknowing public poison..but people who have the knowledge and the experience to do the job the right way…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was devastated to see that Dave Phillipps wrote this article in the NYT without any reader comments. They knew a hailstorm of comments would be coming their way. I’ll still try to write the editor. Something has to help these beautiful animals who really don’t cost anything if they would let them free on their lands mandated by Congress.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Since I dont “do” Facebook – couldnt comment myself – but did find the ones already there – and they were good ones – by people who are well-informed about the real situation!


          1. Thanks Vivian. It worked and the comments to the article amply put what I wanted to say. I did write the NYT as follows: Success Spoils a U.S. Program to Round Up Wild Horses by Dave Philipps, 10-14-16

            There are many differences with Mr. Philipps’ account of our wild horse population. Mr. Philipps’ article misses that BLM sets the appropriate management levels well below minimum-viable population. BLM then claims that herds are in excess and rounds them up. BLM also falsifies herd-growth estimates. Ranchers demand that BLM reduce wild horses on public lands is another great wrong. These ranchers pay a pittance to graze their millions of livestock at the expense of taxpayers. Lastly, the BLM sends horses by the truckload to “live out their lives” on ranches, until these horses are trucked off by kill buyers. Then BLM sends more horses to these ranches. Please assign a true investigative journalist to research and report these facts – but not Mr. Philipps.

            Thank you.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Brilliant Chris. Thank you.

              Dave Philipps used to confront the BLM, Salazar and more. Made his reputation on exposing their crimes and made it all the way to the New York Times no less. And now this?

              That’s why I was so surprised by the tone and misrepresentations in Philipps’ article. What a turncoat. I take it that this is yet another depressing example of the death of honest reporting in the USofA. Blech.

              I take it that unless you know an issue firsthand you cannot trust a word written now by the New York Times or any other outlet. Dishonest reporting is a threat to democracy.

              Standards are falling everywhere.

              Liked by 1 person

  4. Well thought out, disturbing article.

    Thanks, Mary

    From: TUESDAY’S HORSE Reply-To: TUESDAY’S HORSE Date: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at 2:32 PM To: Mary Robinson Subject: [New post] Spectre of slaughter haunts wild horses as BLM begins to run out of money VGrF posted: “by VIVIAN We recently celebrated another anniversary and are going into our 14th year. During the intervening years we have witnessed the demise of many a wild horse herd and the emptying of entire herd management areas (HMAs). All along the peop”


  5. Thank you Vivian for another COMPLETE BRILLIANT presentation about how wild horses are victims of capitalism, of cattle ranching, of meat eaters, of corporate power and of individuals NOT understanding how their personal food choices MATTER!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said Veda regarding the impact of all these different forces coming against these supposed protected symbols of American freedom and independence. With all that is going on in the US right now I feel their plight reflects our own in so many ways. What voice do they have unless we give them ours? I feel encouraged. We haven’t lost yet.

      Liked by 1 person

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