Obama knew what he was getting when he made Ken Salazar head of the Bureau of Land Management, an agency within the Department of the Interior that manages some 500,000,000 acres of public lands. The Department of Interior has been an agency ratcheted by corruption for decades. In 2009, Obama put Salazar in to oversee and manage this agency. During his term, Salazar, a strong proponent of renewable energy, pushed through more then three dozen new solar, wind, and geothermal projects on public lands. However, what this article will seek to understand is the BLM wild horse roundup and its mission to destroy the free roaming wild horses they are mandated to protect.
Salazar is an associate of a notorious senator from Nevada who is currently under investigation by the State of Utah for corruption. Harry Reid’s scandals could fill a book and include land swaps, hidden property, and lavish gifts for his intervention in and in the Utah investigation for pay to play. Reid has also been involved in BLM land deals for solar energy, Salazar’s pet project.
Tom Davis purchased nearly 1,800 mustangs from the BLM over a four-year period. He claims to have immediately resold the animals to individuals who drove them to Mexico to their painful deaths in Mexican slaughter houses. The Inspector General interviewed Davis, who refused to disclose the names of anyone he sold these animals to. So why not prosecute Davis himself and perhaps even Salazar if, as I suspect, Salazar was aware of the fate awaiting these animals?
Davis and Salazar are both cattle ranchers from Colorado. They had a pre-existing personal relationship that allowed Davis an inside opportunity to acquire wild horses from the BLM. These BLM wild horse roundup efforts and the subsequent slaughter of our wild horses began almost simultaneously with Salazar’s appointment as head of the agency. Suspicious?
To be clear, this was no accident. Davis allegedly had farming and trucking connections with Salazar according to a report by the Office of the Inspector General, who has begun an investigation. Hopefully Salazar, if he in fact knew wild horses were being driven to Mexico for slaughter, will feel what it’s like to be rounded up, penned up, and behind bars, although it’s doubtful Obama will allow that to happen. In fact, the agency charged with criminal prosecutions at the U.S. Attorney’s office has apparently gone dark.
The BLM claims a death rate of one percent for helicopter roundups, but these claims are inaccurate. Wild animals do not belong in pens, ergo the term “wild.” In BLM wild horse roundups, wild horses are dying in captivity.
As of August, at least 86 horses have died in holding pens after being captured in Wyoming’s Checkerboard roundup. Most of them died from broken necks, traumatic injuries sustained from desperately slamming themselves against the bars of their holding pens during terror-stricken attempts to escape. There are now fewer then 25,000 wild horses running free on our public lands.
As the Inspector General report states: “In 2005, BLM implemented a policy that placed limitations on the amount of horses sold and required buyers to provide good homes and humane care to prevent the horses from being sent to slaughter.” Yet that is exactly what happened to almost 1,800 wild horses during BLM wild horse roundups under Salazar’s watchful eye. Davis knew the rules; he should be prosecuted as an example to others with this same destructive intent. When there are limits, how did this “individual” manage to buy nearly 1,800 horses?
Its time to follow the money! Time to see who received what at the expense of these horses’ lives.
Which would you believe to be more important to a cattle rancher with oil interests, drilling leases, and wind farms: money or protecting a national treasure, our wild horse heritage?
As Salazar admitted when he retired from public office, “Today, the largest solar energy projects in the world are under construction on America’s public lands in the west, and we’ve issued the first leases for offshore wind in the Atlantic.”
About 500 million acres, or about 20 percent, of the nation’s land are under control of the Department of the Interior, perhaps one of the most corrupt government agencies notwithstanding the IRS … but that’s another story.
The Department of Interior’s No. 2 official, Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles, served 10 months in prison for lying to a Senate committee about his relationship with Jack Abramoff, with whom the agency had strong ties. But even worse are the allegations of sexual misconduct, drug use, and comfortable ties to the energy industry and its rewards, leaving no room in their agenda for our wild horses, which by law they are mandated to protect.
Agency employees responsible for collecting royalties paid by oil and gas companies using public land cut inside deals for private financial rewards, money that never reached the U.S. Treasury, along with lavish gifts. Just how much money ever made it to the U.S. government is a big question. A bigger question is “How much did not?”
The agency is tasked with maximizing oil and gas royalties while also protecting the environment. But as this administration especially has shown, it can’t manage a grapefruit planting on even one acre.
The BLM administers nearly 18,000 permits and leases held by ranchers who graze livestock on public lands.
The BLM permits 12.4 million animal unit months (AUMs), but only about 9 million AUMs were billed in 2012, and the average during recent years is only about 8 million AUMs. An AUM is the unit of measure for livestock grazing and equates to forage needed to support one cow/calf pair or five ewes and their lambs.
There are about 800,000 livestock operators and cattle producers in the United States. Of those, fewer than 21,000 benefit from the Forest Service and BLM grazing programs in the West.
Again, thanks to the BLM wild horse roundups, we have left around 25,000 wild horses versus the millions of sheep and cattle that forage on BLM public land.
The sense of frustration that we as a nation feel with government is at an all-time high. Maybe we should look to Thomas Jefferson and examine how he would have dealt with a government that is so out of control. The BLM wild horse roundups may be that catalyst.
The Inspector General referred his investigation to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado as well as the State of Colorado Conejos County District Attorney’s Office, which declined civil and criminal prosecution. That leaves the matter in the hands of the public. Perhaps it’s time to make our voice heard. Perhaps it’s time to overwhelm the Colorado U.S. Attorneys office and demand that Davis and Salazar, if evidence warrants, are prosecuted.
The BLM says that “Anyone who has knowledge of the sale of federally protected wild horses or burros to a slaughterhouse or ‘kill buyer’ is asked to report it to the BLM at email@example.com or 866-4MUSTANGS (866-468-7826). Individuals who witness the inhumane treatment of these animals are also asked to report the incident to the same e-mail address and phone number. Law enforcement will investigate the reports as warranted.”
Time to flood the government with complaints about Davis! Time to rise up and demand that our government obey our laws.
Demand letters should be addressed as follows:
U.S. Attorney John Walsh
1225 17th Street, Suite 700
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 454-0100 (phone)
(303) 454-0400 (fax)
Note that Walsh was appointed by Barack Obama in 2010 and that federal lands comprise about one-third of Colorado.
One thing about the beauty of wild horses, as Alice Walker once noted, is that ”Horses make a landscape look beautiful.” Cattle do not!