Reprint: National Treasures Saved From Slaughterhouse

Milestone: Protect Mustangs rescues 14 young wild horses from slaughterhouse after BLM roundup

Roundup results in death of 23 American wild horses

SAN FRANCISCO, Ca. (Protect Mustangs)—Against all odds, Mark Boone Junior (Batman Begins & Sons of Anarchy) with Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs, saved 14 young free-roaming wild horses from slaughter thanks to donations from Alicia Goetz, the Schnurmacher family and others. This unprecedented rescue seems to be the first time American wild horses have been purchased back from a slaughterhouse following a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roundup. In March, the herd of 41 wild horses was rounded up by the BLM, using taxpayer funds, handed over to the the Wyoming Livestock Board and sold at auction to a Canadian slaughterhouse for human consumption abroad. The BLM claims everything they did was legal.

“If it’s legal then the law needs to change,” states Novak. “Americans love wild horses. They want to make sure they’re protected. Congress knows that and it’s time they represent the public who elected them into office—not interests who want to dispose of them.”

In 2004, former Montana Senator, Conrad Burns, added the Burns amendment to the Appropriations Act of 2005 without any public or Congressional discussion. The Burns amendment overruled many protections in the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. From that time forward, “unlimited sales” to slaughter has been legal.

Due to public outcry against selling wild horses for slaughter, the BLM uses middle men who sell the mustangs to the slaughterhouse. This time the scapegoat was the Wyoming Livestock Board, other times it’s men like Tom Davis. The 1,700 wild horses he purchased from the feds have never been accounted for. Advocates believe they went to slaughter in Mexico.

Public outcry over Tom Davis prompted BLM to revise their policy to avoid another fiasco in the future. A change in policy is not a change in law. It’s still legal for the BLM to allow slaughter and exportation of horse meat.

Out of the 41 wild horses rounded up on March 18th and 19th near Greybull, Wyoming, 37 were quickly sold to the slaughterhouse. 4 foals were saved by the co-owner of the auction house and later transferred to advocates. Protect Mustangs jumped in later on April 2nd to save the other 37 wild horses from being slaughtered. Chances were slim they would find any alive.

Boone and Novak quickly learned that a group of 23 mares and stallions had already perished. The duo managed to prevent the last 14 orphaned wild youngsters from going to slaughter. The survivors are called the WY14. These wild horses range from 8 months to 2 years old.

“It’s a miracle we were able to get them out,” says Boone. “I can’t believe the EPA, in 2012, designated our wild horses as pests—especially when the horse originated in America.”

“American free-roaming wild horses are a returned-native species who contribute to the thriving natural ecological balance,” explains Novak. “They have value on the range because they reduce the risk of wildfires, reverse desertification and with climate change that’s really important.”

For generations, free-roaming wild horses lived in family bands north of Greybull and close to a former herd area called Dry Creek/Foster Gulch that was zeroed out in 1987 to make room for extractive uses such as bentonite mining.

In 1971 there were 339 wild herds in the West, but now there are only 179 left in all 10 western states combined.

Today the Bighorn Basin is preparing for another extractive boom but this time it’s about fracking for oil and gas with right-of-way corridors to service those fields. Is this why the small herd of 41 wild horses was suddenly ripped off public land?

The feds maintain the 41 wild horses were not wild even though they lived wild and free for generations.

Curiously reports have surfaced that a bucking string made up of wild mustangs was turned out by their original owner more than 40 years ago. If it could be proven these wild horses were on public land in 1971, they would be protected under the Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act. The BLM claims the horses have been there for only 40 years not 43.

“It’s horrible for tourism that the State of Wyoming would allow this sort of thing,” states Boone. “The beauty of the Bighorn Basin is like no other place on earth but it won’t be the same now that these wild horses are gone.”

“We are grateful we saved the WY14.” says Novak. “Now we need financial help to bring them to California and start their new lives.”

Go to to help the WY14 with your donation.

Reprinted from Horseback Magazine

3 thoughts on “Reprint: National Treasures Saved From Slaughterhouse

  1. Hi Anne,

    We have corresponded briefly via FaceBook. I am writing this to show my solidarity with your love for the wild herds, and hope that they will be saved. I follow the various herds via FB postings. There is your WY – 14 that so badly needs a permanent, safe place to exist. There is also the Heber Herd in Arizona, The Pryor Herd in Montana, and numerous others that are also in real trouble. How sad and frustrating it is to know that certain state and federal agencies such as the BLM, U.S. Forestry Service, and so on, are no less the perpetrators than the cattle ranchers, sheep ranchers, energy exploring and foreign mining companies. They do not care. They move files around on their desks at best – and they are paid many millions each year. How often was the BLM in Reno questioned about why they provided no permanent shelter for those horses they rounded up and stuck at their holding facility? Horses in Delta, Utah, same exact situation – – sweltering heat, inadequate water, food tossed over a fence and if it lands in horse manure so what? This both a tragedy and a crime. In fact, why hasn’t the BLM been brought up on extreme neglect and abuse charges? it boggles my mind. Yes – I know they pull the wool over the eyes of nearly everybody – or try to, and they get away with it. I personally will go the distance for the herds in any way I can help. Thanks, Anne, to you and your associates for all of your efforts. Somehow, it all has to get to the U.S. Congress, and they need to stop and get this one sorted through immediately.

  2. Just a word to those who want to undermine the efforts of othérs. You need to reevaluate your dedication to the wild horses because what you are doing is self-centered bs and there is no place for your kind in the run to save horses. Everyone of us must put aside disagreements with each other and fight hard for these horses who are fighting for their lives every day and they need our help!! There are so few of them left it scares me to death that they won’t even be here a year from now. We will have token herds of horses only not really wild anymore but oh so visible for the public to see and think they are wild. Hats off to Anne and Protect Mustangs for fighting so hard for them and making sure the 14 will live in peace from now on!!!

  3. What are we leaving for our generations to come?I want my children and others children to see the Wild Mustangs and know they were meant to be here.The only way we can do this is by uniting and being Positive,we can do this.Thank You Anne Novak and Protect Mustangs.We must never give up on such a beautiful Animals/The Wild Mustangs should live on Wild and Free forever.

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