This agency has been one of the more corrupt Federal agencies ever since it’s founding by President Harry Truman in 1946. In their tenure over public lands, they have done more to destroy watershed than protect it, their incompetence as an agency of government has been unprecedented, and they have allowed cattle and sheep to overgraze the land to the extent that much of our range lands are today closer to wastelands. They have pitted cattle and sheep ranchers against the American wild horses and burros for grazing rights while making secret deals to sell wild horses and burros to slaughterhouses in the U.S. (before they were shut down) and later to slaughterhouses in both Canada and Mexico or illegal slaughterhouses that still are operating in the U.S. This agency has been involved in knowingly fraudulent adoption schemes and fictitious “sanctuary” herds to facilitate the needless removal of horses off the range.
This has left us, we the people, no option but to dismantle the BLM. It’s time to shut down this criminal enterprise and perhaps transfer these lands to the states with agreements that the wild horses and burros are to remain free protected and unmolested.
BLM employees and contractors have been the driving force behind the horse-to-slaughter program, which has been ongoing since the 1980s and possibly even prior. This has been demonstrated by the criminal prosecutions of horse theft and sales to slaughterhouses by such cases as have been filed in Texas, Wyoming, Oregan, and Utah. But none have been filed in Colorado, which has been the hotbed of agency corruption. See U.S. v. Hughes and U.S. v. Tomlinson.
BLM director Jim Baca, had a short-lived tenure of only nine months as head of the agency. Baca’s concern for the wild horses and their plight under the corrupt BLM led to his being fired by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt in 1994. His termination was cheered by the Cattle Association and in particular by Mike Fusco, field coordinator of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association. Fusco said, “One down and 99 to go,” as Babbitt, whose family was in cattle ranching and tied to slaughterhouses, would request and accept Jim Baca’s resignation and put to rest the investigations into BLM degradation of the American wild horse.
Jim Baca was intent to clean up the BLM, but the cattle barons would have none of it. They have always been in control of this agency. They have since the beginning wanted all wild horses sent to slaughter. That war continues today between the horse and the cattle interests.
Baca found evidence of a number of dubious activities that warrant the call to dismantle the BLM:
—“Black Booking,” or phony double-branding in order that horses rounded up could vanish from all paper trails and end up at the slaughterhouses.
—Manipulation of wild horse adoptions where one holds proxies for a group of kill buyers and the horses all end up at slaughter.
—Use of satellite ranches where horses are held for days or weeks as stopping points on the way to slaughter.
—Fraudulent horse sanctuaries subsidized by the government to care for unadoptable wild horses deemed excess and removed from the range as fronts for commercial sales to slaughter while ripping the government off at a price of $1.10 a day for phantom horses that have already been sold and slaughtered.
One of Jim Baca’s investigations accepted for prosecution centered on BLM employees’ direct participation, with the approval of BLM managers, to sell wild horses to slaughterhouses by using the satellite ranches as holding facilities.
BLM drivers would deliver the horses to kill buyers or these satellite ranches and share in the money the horses brought in from the slaughter facilities. The money was then divided among the BLM employees who were participants in the horse-for-slaughter scheme.
BLM managers getting wind of the investigation obstructed justice and the investigation. The Department of Interior went so far as to attempt to quash the investigation: they were able to limit the prosecution to low-level employees but protected the higher-ups at the BLM. Then they interfered with the Department of Justice to such an extent that the DOJ finally just gave up, and no one was even prosecuted.
Lawyers from the Department of Justice urged that no prosecution be carried out because of the extent of tolerance for the program within the BLM for this horse-to-slaughter program, which was widespread within the agency, including those in management.
The philosophy of the BLM is “Nobody gives a damn about these horses.”
Note to BLM: We do!
By the beginning of the 20th century, there were an estimated 2 million wild horses roaming the American range. Many were shot to make room for cattle and sheep grazing. Waterholes were poisoned, and horses were hunted, trapped, run over cliffs, and killed. By 1970, estimates were that less then 10,000 wild horses still remained free.
Congress was persuaded to pass the Wild Free-roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971, brought about by a groundswell of humane organizations and individuals that cared for the plight of these animals and their torrent of mail to Congress.
This legislation was intended to end the sale of wild horses to slaughter, but it did not.
The mixed land use authorized by Congress in the 1978 amendment has left much of the range unsuitable for grazing and has resulted in overgrazing by cattle and sheep ranchers, to the detriment of that wild horse and burros that do not impact the land.
Here’s how one leg of the scam works: They capture 65 horses and only report 50. The remaining 15 horses go directly to satellite ranches where they are held temporarily before being shipped to slaughter as demonstrated in the Peer.org White Paper — a 1997 horse-to-slaughter report. BLM employees can get as much as $300 to $500 a horse or more. The sale of 15 horses brings in $1,875 to the employees, but the number of horses was probably in the hundreds for each roundup. One hundred horses at $300 a horse is $30,000; at $500 a horse, it’s $50,000.
Further investigations linked BLM employees working together with these satellite holding facilities to collect $1.10 per horse per day for horses that had already been sold and slaughtered. The Department of the Interior flatly refused to honor a subpoena for their records during the investigation.
All BLM programs have been a complete failure, like most government-controlled programs have been. Yet they continue in their nocuous plan to destroy America’s wild horses under the guise of protecting public lands. The BLM, while charged with protecting the wild horse and its heritage, have in fact been complicit in the felicitation and trafficking of America’s wild horses and burros to slaughterhouses. It didn’t end in the 1990s. It is still ongoing. Lucrative and financially rewarding programs never die; they are passed on to each successive generation of BLM employee. It you believe this horse-to-slaughter program has stopped, you’re very naive.
Why won’t Colorado prosecute Tom Davis?
Colorado has been at the forefront of corruption and has been protected by the U.S. Attorney’s office. Could that be the reason why the Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh sits with his feet up on his desk, sipping coffee and chewing donuts while refusing to prosecute slaughter buyers like Tom Davis? Davis sells horses to slaughter and laughs in the face of those of us who really care.
In addition, Colorado cattle ranchers are fully behind re-opening horse slaughter facilities.
Sex, drugs, and the Department of the Interior
In 2008, the New York Times reported a level of corruption at the Department of the Interior, located in Colorado, that goes hand-in-hand with the spoils of the horse-to-slaughter programs of the BLM, including allegations of financial self-dealing, accepting gifts from energy companies, cocaine use, and sexual misconduct. The Department of Inspector General, Earl E Devaney, delivered a report to Congress outlining how the Minerals Management Service, which collects about $10 billion in royalties annually and is one of the government’s largest sources of revenue other than taxes, was effectively stealing money from taxpayers, in one way allowing some 119 oil bids to reduce their payment after the bid had been accepted in exchange for lavish gifts from the bidder.
The investigation also concluded that several of the officials “frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.” In short, the agency was pandering its female employees to oil and gas company executives for their business.
The Devaney report also identified in lurid detail how the program’s manager had mixed official and personal business. The report accuses him of having intimate relations with two subordinates, one of whom regularly sold him cocaine.
No one was actually fired or prosecuted. Many were transferred to other positions, and others retired with their government pensions intact.
The Justice Department, as usual, has declined to prosecute any of them on the charges suggested by the inspector general — just as they have regarding Davis.
The report also detailed 19 officials in the royalty-in-kind program and their cozy relationships with energy companies. A third of the staff took gifts from oil and gas executives, some with “prodigious frequency,” it said.
So the Department of the Interior, the agency under which the BLM operates, is a hotbed of corruption and self-dealing, not only in drugs but in money for horses to slaughter.
The BLM self-administers its laws; its recourse for lawbreakers is a criminal referral for prosecution, but that action has no teeth when the U.S. attorney refuses to prosecute or when the BLM itself it the criminal constituent.
Just thinking out loud, I wonder what would happen if the thousands of readers of this article placed a call to the U.S. Attorney in Colorado and demanded he prosecute Davis or resign and allow an attorney with backbone to prosecute these lawbreakers. His voice mail and fax numbers have been provided:
U.S. Attorney John Walsh
1225 17th Street, Suite 700
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 454-0100 (phone)
(303) 454-0400 (fax)
Here’s another thought: in lieu of the call to dismantle the BLM, perhaps it’s time that we separately demand real changes, like a civilian oversight committee that rides along with the BLM and inspects on a regular basis the holding pens and makes sure all horses are accounted for. This committee can not be of rancher, oil, or cattle interest but rather comprising people from societies that have a concern and passion for these animals.
The young fillies leave the family and find a new one around two years old. The young colts are kicked out by the stallion at about 2 or 3 years old. The young bachelor stallions often form loose affiliations, called bachelor bands, and they roam about the mountains, playing and looking for an opportunity to steal a mare to form his own band.
The BLM is killing the equivalent of a father and mother to some colt. As the BLM destroys friendships and renders this magnificent animal extinct, the time to act is becoming short. There are now fewer then 25,000 of these animals still free, and that number will be reduced by each successive drive.
In May 2015, the largest known U.S. illegal slaughterhouse was raided and closed. As a final insult to our wild horses, their carcasses were fed to crocodiles. The investigation and raid was spearheaded by Richard “Kudo” Couto of the Animal Recovery Mission (ARM). Nearly 10,000 animals were recovered.The horses were not rescued but rather butchered in the back pasture.
Since 2008, Couto and animal rights personnel have exposed and shut down more than 140 illegal slaughterhouses in Florida alone, and he estimates there are still more than 500 operating in Florida. Four men face charges in connection with this illegal slaughterhouse: Gregorio Santa Ana (owner), Henry Gustavo Parra Oporta, Ruben Rodriguez, and Jose Armando Soilis.
And they all slaughter horses!
Another raid in Florida rescued more than 1,000 animals.
Horses were purchased from auctions and brought to the grounds for slaughter; some were sold for black magic sacrificial ceremonies. Animals were skinned alive!
Another group, G.A. Paso Fina, was also raided and shut down. It was using the property for breeding and training horses and selling them for slaughter.
As said on the HorseFund.org website, “Horse slaughter is a cruel betrayal of an animal that has made it possible for America to develop the richness it enjoys.”
Laura Hillenbrand, author of “Seabiscuit,” says it best:
“Here are these exquisite, immensely powerful creatures, who willingly give us their labor in return for our stewardship. They have attended us throughout history, bearing us across frontiers and into battle, pulling our plows, thrilling us in sport, warming us with their beauty. We owe them more than we can ever repay. To send these trusting creatures to slaughter is beneath their dignity and ours.”