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Washington, DC -- Today wild horse advocates assembled by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) delivered a letter signed by 25,130 American citizens to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar demanding an emergency halt to the Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse roundup program amidst evidence that horses captured as a part of that program were sold to slaughter.
The letter was prompted by a September ProPublica report, “All the Missing Horses: What Happened to the Wild Horses Tom Davis Bought From the Gov’t,” which exposed the BLM for selling “truckload upon truckload” of captured wild horses to a known kill buyer, Tom Davis, who purchases U.S. horses and sells them to slaughterhouses in Mexico.
The ProPublica article alleged that BLM officials “may not want to look too closely at Davis” because “Davis has become a relief valve for a federal program plagued by conflict and cost overruns.”
Secretary Salazar and the Department of the Interior responded to this report by launching an Office of Inspector General investigation. There is no clear indication on when findings will be released. Meanwhile, the agency continues to sell captured wild horses for as little as $10 a piece.
A YouTube video posted in the past few days showing wild horses with BLM brands being offloaded at a slaughterhouse in Mexico underscores the need for an emergency hold on the roundup program, Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, said:
“Secretary Salazar owes the American people a guarantee that no more wild horses will end up in slaughterhouses. Instead of taking decisive action, Secretary Salazar has allowed the BLM to continue to roundup and stockpile thousands more wild horses removed from Western public lands. As the agency’s holding facilities for captured mustangs reach capacity, these cherished American icons are in real jeopardy of being slaughtered.“
Roy went on to say that Secretary Salazar’s bureaucratic duck and cover - requesting an investigation while continuing business as usual - won’t work:
“25,130 Americans have joined together to say that it’s time to rein in the BLM’s costly and cruel wild horse management program.”
Delivering the petition to the Department of Interior today were AWHPC supporters Puller Lanigan and Tim Parmly who shared Roy’s outrage:
We’re here to "to let the Department of Interior know we are tired of our wild horses being decimated," said Lanigan.
Parmly offered a common sense way forward for Salazar after he halts the BLM program:
"I think Ken Salazar needs to stop rounding up the wild horses that we have, figure out what he's going to do with the 50,000 that we have in holding pens at this moment and then he has to come up with some kind of a plan to reinstate a lot of these horses back on the land because there are millions of acres of public lands he's taken these horses off of to give to cattle. There are millions of acres for these horses to return to."
Under Secretary Salazar’s tenure, the BLM has rounded up and removed over 35,000 wild horses from their homes on the range on Western public lands. Only a third of these horses have been adopted. Most captured horses are warehoused in holding facilities. Currently, there are more wild horses in government holding facilities (50,000) than are left free on the range (32,000). Wild horses are removed by the thousands from public lands to make room for taxpayer-subsidized livestock grazing. Private livestock exceed wild horses on BLM lands by at least 50-1.