BLM in fiscal 2021 removed 13,666 animals, the most in at least 20 years, bureau records show.
by Scott Streater | 07/26/2022 01:30 PM EDT
E&E NEWS reports:
There’s more trouble on the horizon for the Bureau of Land Management’s embattled wild horse and burro adoption incentive program.
The American Wild Horse Campaign today released a report the group says shows that since 2019 at least 840 animals removed from federal rangelands, placed into holding pens and corrals, and adopted into private care were later sold at livestock auctions that included known buyers from slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.
AWHC says it obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act and from affiliated wild horse rescue groups that attended the auctions.
The documents provide “irrefutable” evidence that BLM’s adoption incentive program has allowed “a flood of wild, untrained mustangs and burros” to be sent “into the slaughter pipeline,” said Amelia Perrin, AWHC’s investigations manager.
BLM did not provide a response to the new report as requested by E&E News prior to publication of this story.
BLM has in the past defended its popular pay-to-adopt program, which offers $1,000 to people who adopt one of the nearly 60,000 wild horses and burros removed from federal rangelands and held in off-range holding corrals and pastures.
Participants receive $500 upfront and an additional $500 per adopted animal a year later, after a follow-up review determines the adopter is properly caring for the horse or horses and title has been transferred to the private party.
Since the program started in late 2019, it has helped adopt more than 8,200 wild horses and burros into private care.
The ‘tip of the iceberg’
BLM last year made adjustments to the program, including implementing administrative steps to better screen adoption candidates and to help ensure that wild horses and burros transferred into private care through the adoption program are not later sold at auctions with known kill buyers in attendance. BLM also visits adopted animals six months after adoption, instead of 12 months later (Greenwire, July 27, 2021).
The agency changed its approach after slaughter claims were first raised by wild horse advocates last year and later detailed in a New York Times story that estimated potentially “truckloads” of adopted animals were later sold at auction (Greenwire, May 17, 2021).
But those administrative steps are not working, according to AWHC.
Of the 840 “BLM-branded wild horses and burros identified in kill pens,” the group says it confirmed that at least 312 of them were “adopted through” the incentive program.
As for the fate of these wild horses and burros, the report states, “The whereabouts of these animals remain unknown.”
The AWHC report “identified 24 groups of related individuals” that it says have adopted multiple wild horses and burros “to the same address, then flipped all the animals to kill pens as a group after receiving the full incentive payments” of $1,000 per animal.
“At least 130 BLM wild horses or burros were sent to kill pens as part of such coordinated schemes,” netting these groups of related individuals “up to $30,000 from incentive payments and auction fees from the first round of AIP adoptions,” the report says.
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Featured Image: Federally protected Mustangs who were brutally rounded up and slaughtered for human consumption. You can see their slaughter tags.
We Say: “It is a black stain on the soul of America that this goes on while absolutely no one in power in Washington is either capable or willing to put a stop to it,” says Vivian Grant, Editor of Tuesday’s Horse. “It is an indication of how far America has fallen when a federal law is repeatedly flaunted and openly violated without a single repercussion.”
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