Animals’ Angels investigation of BLM mortality discrepancies continues

Lack of accountability remains questionable
The BLM has habitually demonstrated a complete lack of accountability regarding horse and burro mortality rates. Excuses include everything from incomplete and missing paperwork, to excluding deceased foals with the death tolls. If BLM’s record-keeping is as palpable as they would have the public believe, why are there such imposing discrepancies?


As mentioned in our previous report, the Nevada BLM Office utilizes a rendering company to dispose of deceased horses and burros. The figures from the mortality reports of the Nevada BLM do not reconcile with the rendering company receipts.


BLM Horses 1


Hundreds of horses were unaccounted for. The BLM’s Public Affairs Specialist Heather Jasinski rationalized this huge discrepancy in part by claiming that they do not count stillbirths (aborted fetuses, animals born dead and newborn animals found dead) and young foals that died before they were freeze marked, but also admitted that the “National WH&B Program is currently reviewing its reporting procedures for all aspects of the program and will modify them to correct any identified discrepancies.”

BLM Horses 2
Our review of the mortality rates at the Palomino Valley Holding Facility in Nevada was alarming, but unfortunately just the tip of the iceberg. Received via Freedom of Information Act Request, the disposal information obtained from Utah, California, and Colorado BLM offices and landfills was enough to cause great concern. Upon reviewing the mortality reports, disposal protocols and landfill delivery sheets from January 2010 to May 2013, we were compelled to share our findings with the general public.

While each state maintained at least rudimentary mortality reports, there is absolutely no oversight whatsoever with regard to disposal. Landfills utilized by the BLM either do not keep disposal records, or refused to provide them to Animals’ Angels; referring us to the BLM instead.  One landfill in Utah did respond to our request for disposal receipts, however, the receipts were for total tonnage and not by head count. Their receipts still didn’t match the records supplied by the BLM. Without an outside agency keeping and/or providing disposal records, it is nearly impossible to know the true mortality rate of horses and burros within the BLM.


BLM Horses 3


Per Mr Fran Ackley, BLM Wild Horse Program Lead, the Colorado BLM has an “assistance agreement” with the Canon City Correctional Facility. Prison employees pick up deceased horses and burros and take them to the landfill.This agreement was described as an arrangement that benefited both Government organizations in various ways, providing work for inmates and providing a service needed by the BLM.

Colorado BLM supplied Animals’ Angels with copies of prison receipts, indicating a fee for this “service” being charged by the prison. Also included with this FOIA, were thefacility/mortality reports. As per usual, the BLM’s figures in Colorado often do not match the prison receipts. Animals’ Angels requested a copy of the prison’s records, but Mr. Jim Heaston, Head of the Department of Corrections Program, denied our request.



Utah BLM also supplied Animals’ Angels with mortality records for the DeltaGunnison and Salt Lake Facility. According to Juan Palma, State Director of the BLM in Utah, the BLM utilizes five landfills for dead horse disposal: Iron County Landfill, Sevier County Landfill, Millard County Landfill, Sanpete Landfill and Salt Lake Valley Landfill.


Iron County Landfill

Per the BLM, disposal at this landfill was rare. There was no charge for disposal, nor were any records kept by either party. Associated numbers for the word “rare” are left open to interpretation.

BLM horses 4


Sevier County Landfill

Per the BLM, there was no charge for disposal at this landfill, nor were any records kept. Exact totals were unknown.

Millard County Landfill

Per the Millard Landfill, records were not kept regarding horses/burros disposed of by the BLM. Sheryl Dekker, Office Manager at the landfill, also indicated that they did not invoice for the service and that the landfill does not monitor if & how many animals are delivered to their “flesh pits”.

Sanpete Landfill

According to the BLM, this landfill was utilized quite frequently for dead animal disposal from the Gunnison facility. Per the Sanpete Landfill’s Chairman Scott Bartholomew (who referred us to the UT BLM), records are not kept regarding the BLM’s disposal. However, a portion of Utah BLM’s internal records received with the FOIA included receipts for Sanpete. Money was exchanged for the service, but the BLM was again charged for tonnage, not for individual headcount, which makes it difficult to compare these figures with mortality report numbers. Exact totals are unknown. According to the mortality records, 131 horses died at the Gunnison facility in 2011. The Sanpete Landfill invoices indicate disposal of carcasses with a total weight of 56,780lbs.



Salt Lake Valley Landfill

The Salt Lake Valley Landfill provided BLM disposal records to Animals’ Angels. This landfill was paid by the BLM for tonnage. The tonnage records provided by the landfill do not match the number of dead horses listed on the mortality records. For example, according to the mortality records, no horses died at the Salt Lake Facility between April and July of 2010. However, the landfill records show several BLM disposals during that timeframe.


Incongruent record keeping by all entities proves only one thing: there is no way to accurately determine the death rates within Utah BLM, as concrete figures are completely unavailable.



According to Amy Dumas, Wild Horse & Burro Program Manager, California BLM buries deceased horses and burros on-site at their holding facilities. The California BLM did provide mortality reports for the Litchfield and Ridgecrest facility. Without any external audit system, confirmation and accuracy of these figures is subject to believing that they are undeniably true. Based on the other FOIA’s we have received, it would be hard to imagine that the California holding facilities properly document the number of deceased animals.


In summary:

The public needs to understand the autonomous nature of BLM operations. Autonomy cannot be an attribute of a Government-run agency. Inaccurate documents, specifically those regarding mortality rates, lead to suspicion. If this was indeed a transparent agency, the numbers wouldn’t lie.


Animals’ Angels is awaiting FOIA responses from South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Oregon and Arizona. We will continue our investigation into the BLM’s practices, and will update our report with our findings.  As always, we greatly appreciate your continued support.

#BREAKING NEWS: Senator Manendo wants humane treatment for captured wild horses

Senator Mark Manendo

for immediate release

Captive wild horses trapped with no shade during heat wave

RENO, Nv. (June 9, 2013)–Senator Mark Manendo, Protect Mustangs and horse lovers across the internet are very concerned for the welfare of the captured native wild horses at the Palomino Valley National Adoption Center during the Reno heat wave. Mustangs of all ages are trapped in pens without shade–even mares and newborn foals. An avalanche of concern is traveling across social media.

Patty Bumgarner with the Wild Horse Protection League from Dayton wrote on Facebook, “Palomino Valley BLM, 91 degrees at 11 a.m. and no shade for the horses with foals or any of the horses & burros. Supposed to be 106 today in Dayton. They’re 2 degrees hotter then us right now.”

Bumgarner’s post caught the attention of many wild horse advocates including Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs.

“It’s horrific to know this is happening,” says Novak. “The BLM is ignoring public input and continues to treat wild horses inhumanely. They don’t seem to care. Now with social media a lot of people are finding out so maybe it will snowball and change things.”

After last summer’s nearby wildfire, the BLM told Novak that no one lives on site. There are up to 2,000 wild horses in pens at the facility outside Reno. She decided to get help elsewhere.

Novak contacted Nevada State Senator Mark Manendo for help. He has an internet track record of being kind to animals and helping horses.

“We have a state law that says dogs need proper shade, food and water, so why not those horses?” asks Mark Manendo, Nevada State Senator. “Why would the BLM not want to provide proper care for the horses–especially if they require adopters must prove the wild horses will have access to shade?”

Previously the Palomino Valley National Adoption Center known as “PVC” has come under fire for several hot button issues. They have decided to cut costs by closing during 3 out of 4 Saturdays per month, making it harder for adopters to adopt wild horses and they don’t appear to be counting or reporting mustang mortalities correctly according to rendering plant records exposed by Animals Angels. During her research for 2013 mortalities, Novak discovered that young foals who die and have not been branded go unreported. With so many mares giving birth to foals at this time of year and no shade during heat waves–unreported deaths are of concern.

“We want American wild horses, especially mares and tiny foals, to be treated humanely while cared for by the federal government,” says Anne Novak. “They should be living in freedom where native horses belong so they can migrate to find shade. Now they are trapped in a pen during a heat wave with no shade–it’s cruel.”

Protect Mustangs encourages concerned Americans to contact their Congressional representative and 2 senators, asking them to intervene to stop this cruelty in all government holding facilities. This concerns all Americans because it is a federal issue.

According to the BLM’s website, “The National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley (PVC) is the largest BLM preparation and adoption facility in the country and serves as the primary preparation center for wild horses and burros gathered from the public lands in Nevada and other near-by states. Nevada is home to more than 50 percent of the Nation’s wild horses and burros with approximately 102 herd management areas throughout the State.”

Protect Mustangs is devoted to protecting native wild horses. Their mission is to educate the public about the indigenous wild horse, protect and research American wild horses on the range and help those who have lost their freedom.

# # #

Media Contacts:

Anne Novak, 415.531.8454

Kerry Becklund, 510.502.1913

Photos, video and interviews available upon request

Links of interest:

Senator Manendo calls for wild horse sanctuaries:

How many foals are dying after roundups:

BLM’s email revealing they are not counting the unbranded dead amongst the 37 dead mustangs at the Nevada facility

Washington Post: Independent panel: Wild horse roundups don’t work; use fertility drugs, let nature cull herds

Information on native wild horses:

Wild-horse advocates: Rallies held in 50 states to drum up opposition to roundups, slaughter–Wild-Horses-Rallies

Animals Angels investigative report:

ProPublica: All the missing horses: What happened to the wild horses Tom Davis bought from the gov’t?

Palomino Valley Center:

Protect Mustangs in the news:

Protect Mustangs’ press releases:

Press Release: How many tiny foals are dying after the roundups and in holding?

MUSTANG Captured Young Wild Horses Dec 27, 2010

For immediate release:

No accountability for dead foals at Nevada wild horse facility  

RENO, Nv. (May 1, 2013)–Protect Mustangs™ calls for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Nevada to provide accurate wild horse and burro death counts for all government funded facilities as well as at roundups. Currently the BLM is not recording the dead foals or other unbranded newborn dead wild horses at the Palomino Valley National Center, a facility near Reno used for processing and adoption. Faulty roundup protocol also allows the BLM to attribute deaths to pre-existing conditions to avoid attributing them to the roundups. The native wild horse conservation group discovered that 37 wild horses died at the Nevada facility from January 1 to April 1, 2013 but the additional deaths of the unbranded have gone unrecorded.

“It’s shocking that the BLM is not counting the unbranded dead foals and dead newborns,” states Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs™. “This lack of transparency and lack of accountability needs to stop. Taxpayers don’t like knowing baby mustangs are dying after roundups–especially when Americans want native wild horses to live in freedom.”

Protect Mustangs™ is very concerned the BLM facilities are not keeping an accurate death count related to roundups and holding facilities. The BLM admits they are not including the unbranded foals, aborted fetuses, animals born dead nor dead newborns in their count. One must ask, “How many are really dying in holding facilities after roundups?

Animals Angels recently uncovered a discrepancy in the mortality numbers at Palomino Valley Center.

“If they are not counting the dead correctly then are some young foals being sold into the slaughter pipeline as well?,” asks Novak. “Why is there no accountability regarding the unbranded young wild horse population?”

Tom Davis, who purchased many wild horses from the BLM said in a Propublica interview, “Hell, some of the finest meat you will ever eat is a fat yearling colt. What is wrong with taking all those BLM horses they got all fat and shiny and setting up a kill plant?”

# # #

Media Contacts:

Anne Novak, 415.531.8454

Kerry Becklund, 510.502.1913

Photos, video and interviews available upon request

Links of interest:

BLM’s email revealing they are not counting the unbranded dead amongst the 37 dead mustangs at the Nevada facility

Wild-horse advocates: Rallies held in 50 states to drum up opposition to roundups, slaughter–Wild-Horses-Rallies

Animals Angels investigative report:

ProPublica: All the missing horses: What happened to the wild horses Tom Davis bought from the gov’t?

Washington Post 4/30/13 USDA secretary says New Mexico horse slaughter plant expected to open soon

Protect Mustangs™ spurs inquiry into dead horses at Palomino Valley

(Photo © Anne Novak, all rights reserved.)

(Photo © Anne Novak, all rights reserved.)

On Friday April 12, Anne Novak, Executive Director of Protect Mustangs™, asked a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employee a simple facility question. She wanted to know the mortality rate of captured wild horses at the Palomino Valley facility since January 1, 2013.

Rather than provide an easy transparent answer, the employee dismissed her request and told Novak to contact the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Office.

Novak copied many advocates and members of the media on her second and third request for mortality rate information. She is concerned about the obvious lack of transparency in the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.

The wild horse and burro advocate community now wants to know how many have died at the facility since the beginning of the year. Several advocates have sent the BLM employee emails as a result of his refusal to share basic facility information.

Esteemed advocates and members of the public have contacted their elected officials to request government transparency and an answer to Novak’s question.

Members of the greater public are wondering why the BLM is hiding the mortality rate. The big questions are spreading on social media: “What is the BLM hiding? How many died at Palomino Valley since January 1, 2013?”

Below is Novak’s third request:

April 17, 2013

Dear Jeb,

Kindly provide a written response to my simple question from April 12th. You will find the whole email stream on our website as well as below:

How many horses died at the facility since Jan 1, 2013?

Thank you for your prompt assistance.


Anne Novak


CC list includes Stacy Peters, Palomino Valley employee and others

BC list undisclosed


Anne Novak

Executive Director

Protect Mustangs™

San Francisco Bay Area

Tel./Text: 415.531.8454


Read about native wild horses: 

Protect Mustangs™ on Facebook

Protect Mustangs™ on Twitter

Protect Mustangs™ on YouTube

Protect Mustangs™ in the News

Donate to help Protect Mustangs™

Protect Mustangs™ is devoted to protecting native wild horses. Our mission is to educate the public about the native wild horse, protect and research American wild horses on the range and help those who have lost their freedom.

Read Animals Angels’ FOIA report revealing discrepancies in mortality records from January 1, 2010 to May 31, 2012: