by Kecia Stewart of the FayObserver.com
“They probably don’t want to look too careful at this guy…”
If you aren’t familiar with the BLM, it’s an agency that protects and manages the herds of wild horses that still roam the American west. Thousands of the wild horses are rounded up each year to keep the populations stable, and to keep ranchers happy. According to ranchers the wild horses “tear up the public land and ruin it for everybody else.” Funny, I’m pretty sure the wild horses were there first …
Anyway, back to the missing horses. By last March the government pens and pastures were nearly full and efforts to find new storage space was not going well. The priority here is to have the horses adopted by the public, anyone can adopt a wild horse with a little as $125. However, with the rising prices of hay and the all around expense of owning a horse, sales have dropped from 1,468 in 2005 to 351 in 2008.
With the storage spaces full and people not adopting any horses the BLM did what it has done increasingly over the last few years. It turned to a little-known Colorado livestock hauler named Tom Davis who was willing to buy hundreds of horses at a time, sight unseen, for $10 a head.
Since 2009 the BLM has sold Davis at least 1,700 wild horse and burros – that’s 70% of the animals purchased through the sale program. When Davis, or anyone for that matter, buys a horse or burro through the BLM a contract is signed promising that the animals will not be slaughtered and he will find good homes for them.
The problem with selling to Davis is that he’s a longtime advocate of horse slaughter. He has admitted to ducking Colorado law to move animals across state lines and will not say where they wind up. He buys wild horses from Indian reservations for slaughter since the reservations are not protected by the same laws. And, since 2010 he has been seeking investors for a slaughterhouse of his own.
“Hell, some of the finest meat you will ever eat is a fat yearling colt,” Davis said. “What is wrong with taking all those BLM horses they got all fat and shiny and setting up a kill plant?”
BLM officials say they carefully screen buyers and are adamant that no wild horses ever go to slaughter.
Tom Gorey, spokesperson for the BLM in Washington, D.C., says there is no current proof that Davis is in fact selling these horses to slaughterhouses, he also says they have no proof that he has not. Gorey could not confirm or deny there was an investigation going on in this case. He also says that anyone who has credible information involving buyers should contact the agency so the claims can be addressed.
Some BLM employees say privately that wild horse program officials may not want to look too closely at Davis. The agency has more wild horses than it knows what to do with, they say, and Davis has become a relief valve for a federal program plagued by conflict and cost over-runs.
“They are under a lot of pressure in Washington to make numbers,” said a BLM corral manager who did not want his name used because he feared retribution from the agency’s national office. “Maybe that is what this is about. They probably don’t want to look too careful at this guy.”