Coalition Calls for Investigation of BLM’s Wild Horse Sales After Gov’t Seizes Truckload of Mustangs Illegally Bound for Slaughter

Washington, DC – The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), a national coalition of over 45 organizations promoting wild horse protection, is calling for a federal investigation of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) practice of selling truckloads of wild horses for $25 per horse or less after law enforcement authorities last week seized 64 mustangs that were being shipped out of the country for slaughter despite a federal prohibition on the practice.

“The seizure of dozens of BLM mustangs destined for slaughter raises serious questions about the lack of safeguards to protect America’s wild horses from commercial slaughter as mandated by Congress,” said Suzanne Roy, AWHPC Campaign Director. “The mustangs seized recently in Utah were sold by the BLM and shipped from a federal long-term holding facility in Oklahoma. They were saved by a vigilant BLM wild horse official. However this incident raises questions about how many mustangs fall through the cracks, unnoticed by less conscientious BLM employees, and wind up on the slaughterhouse floor in Canada or Mexico?”

AWHPC released the video below highlighting that America’s mustangs are being sold for slaughter despite a Congressional ban on the practice...

With respect to the gentleman who said that BLM horses cannot go to slaughter, the fact is that when those horses cross that parallel up there north of here, they’re Canadian horses.. . . My understanding is that the law says that they can’t go to slaughter. Uh, not withstanding that law, if they are transported across the border, they’re Canadian horses and we do see them in the plant,” said Bill Desbarres, a Canadian horse industry official affiliated with Bouvry Exports, a Canadian slaughterhouse company, at the January 2011 pro-slaughter “Summit of the Horse” conference in Las Vegas.

The last horse slaughter plant in the U.S. closed in 2007, but nearly 100,000 horses a year are shipped to Canadian and Mexican plants which slaughter horses to supply overseas markets for horsemeat. Congress currently prohibits the BLM from selling wild horses to individuals or companies that intend to sell them for commercial slaughter, but legitimate concerns remain about the BLM’s efforts to verify the fate of horses sold from short- or long-term holding facilities, particularly when they are sold in lots of 20, 40, or more horses.

The video also shows Joey Astling, the USDA official responsible for inspecting horse transport trucks into Canada and Mexico, acknowledging that there is  is no  brand inspection or monitoring to determine whether BLM horses are crossing either border on their way to slaughter plants. “It’s clear that the legal protections mandated by Congress are not preventing wild horses from being sent to slaughter,” Roy continued. “AWHPC is calling for an independent audit of all horses sold by the BLM over the past five years and verification of the fate of those horses in order to to determine the breadth and scope of this problem.” Of particular concern to the AWHPC, is the BLM’s practice of selling large lots of horses to individuals, who allegedly disperse them to property owners that need them in order to maintain their agriculture tax deferrals, as the BLM has no way of verifying the ultimate destinations or fates of these horses. Ultimately, according to the AWHPC, the only way to protect America’s horses – both wild and domestic – from the threat of slaughter is for Congress to pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, sponsored by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC). That bill would make it illegal to slaughter horses in the United States for human consumption and to ship horses out of the country for commercial slaughter.

That Act was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on 6/09/2011 and will not go to the floor for a vote until it moves out of committee. Since 2000, the BLM has rounded up and removed over 100,000 wild horses and burros from Western public lands. Today, over 42,000 of these wild horses are warehoused for life in government holding facilities. In 2005, an amendment surreptiously inserted into a 3,300-page Omnibus Appropriations Bill authorized the BLM to sell captured wild horses without limitations on the number of horses purchased or the intentions of the buyer and passed without notice or debate. Shortly after that, Congress introduced and passed appropriations language to prohibit the BLM from selling horses to any party that intends to sell them for slaughter.

About the AWHPC The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is a coalition of more than 40 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.

For more information, visit www.wildhorsepreservation.org.