BLM photo of horses in Nevada.
More than 1700 wild mustangs were slaughtered in Mexico over a four-year period after being purchased from the Bureau of Land Management by a Colorado rancher, a federal report confirms.
The Interior Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) released the findings Friday. It states the Wild Horse and Burro Program failed to enforce BLM’s policy to ensure that wild horses went to good homes.
Between 2008 and 2012, the BLM sold 1,794 federally-protected mustangs to Tom Davis, a livestock hauler. Davis, a known slaughter proponent, said he would find the horses good homes, but wouldn’t divulge who his buyers were. During the investigation, Davis told authorities “probably close to all of them,” were sent to Mexico, but he added he never crossed the border with the horses.
Instead, he sold his horses near the Mexico border to companies like Southwest Livestock. Investigators found holes in how a New Mexico Department of Agriculture brand inspector and a USDA-certified veterinarian were doing their jobs in regard to health certificates The horses were not inspected before shipping to Mexico slaughterhouses. The OIG could not verify they were the same horses.
Davis purchased each horse for $10 and bought them by the truckload, which typically consisted of 35 equines. Taxpayers paid $140,000 to ship the horses to Davis. He would sell truckload of horses for $3500 to $4000. Davis told investigators he believed the BLM “had to know” the horses were going to slaughter, since he was buying so many.
The sale of the horses for slaughter violates BLM policy and a Congressional ban.
According to the report, the BLM marketing specialist that approved Davis as a buyer had performance appraisals partially based on how many horses were adopted out or sold. During the four-year period under investigation, the marketing specialist received monetary awards.
Davis was not prosecuted criminally or penalized in civil court.
The BLM responded to the investigation stating it has taken additional steps to prevent the situation from happening again. It cites policies for adoption and sale developed in late 2012 including special approval for anyone wanting to buy more than four horses within six-months.