Journalism in the Public Interest

Lawmakers Press for Answers on Sale of Wild Horses

Two congressmen have asked the U.S. Department of Interior for information on the progress of its investigation into the sale of more than 1,700 protected mustangs to a proponent of horse slaughter.

A group of wild horses is rounded up in Eureka, Nev., in July 2005. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Two congressmen wrote to the Department of Interior this week to demand information on the progress of its investigation into whether more than 1,700 federally protected wild horses sold to a Colorado man may have been illegally sent to slaughter.

The investigation was triggered by a ProPublica story published in September showing that since 2009 the department had sold truckload after truckload of mustangs to a horse-slaughter proponent named Tom Davis who acknowledged shipping many of them out of state in violation of Colorado law. The fate of the horses is unknown.

Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., have sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar pressing him to explain what role the agency had in selling so many horses to a man the letter calls "a longtime kill buyer."

"As you are aware, the ProPublica revelations have provoked a substantial public outcry," the letter says. "Leading organizations and the public have stepped forward to express their concern with the idea that America's wild horses could be sold by their government to be slaughtered. ... We are troubled by your Department's lack of response to [their] legitimate concerns."

The pair of legislators also has begun circulating the letter in Congress, collecting signatures from other lawmakers, said Adam Sarvana, a spokesman for Grijalva, the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulations.

In the wake of the ProPublica report, the Bureau of Land Management announced it had opened an investigation into Davis' purchases. In October, the investigation was taken over by the Department of Interior’s Inspector General, who handles matters that could involve agency staffers. That investigation is ongoing.

Sarvana said Grijalva and Whitfield want answers before Salazar leaves his Cabinet position at the end of March. Their letter asks for a response within 10 days.

Mary Caulfield

Jan. 31, 2013, 4:20 p.m.

Thank you for exposing these disgusting acts to the light of day. Only then is justice allowed to reign.

This is an abomination. I am sickened, disgusted, and enraged. Why don’t we just slaughter all the unicorns in our utopia! Why don’t we start a slaughter campaign for rats or wild bore or illegally released reptiles like Boa constrictors, iguanas and monitors!???

Patricia Clements

Feb. 1, 2013, 11 a.m.

I am not sure why he gets ten days to make up a story.  How about giving them answers NOW.  This is unacceptable.

Ruth Leibowitz

Feb. 1, 2013, 11:22 a.m.

Please Sir, please help protect these creatures from such a cruel, heartless, & barbaric practice. God’s creatures are truly beautiful, with sweet hearts, & a loving character. Please help to save them, & give them a life of peace, & freedom, something that they so much desire, & well deserve, a life that they can look forward to each, & every day, where they can truly be happy.

Kallya Georgiades

Feb. 1, 2013, 12:54 p.m.

God created these beautiful creatures the same way He created the human species.  Just think for a moment if another Species more powerful than humans came along and took all of us to a slaughterhouse.  It can’t happen?  Yes it can!  We don’t know what the space age will bring, what kind of aliens might invade our planet.  Why do we allow such cruelty to prevail?  This is beyond inhumane.  This is barbaric like we still live in the stone age.  Those who have the power to change this horrible and barbaric practice, please, please let your hearts speak for you.  Your hearts not your mind.  The mind and the heart walk on a parallel course and they never meet.  So please follow your heart and allow these beautiful and noble creatures gallop FREE in the wind as our Creator meant them to do.  The planet is big enough for all the Creator’s creatures.  We, humans, have no right to capture and slaughter them.  May the good Lord speak to your hearts and inspire you to do the right thing.

Ken Salazar and his friend, Tom Davis, need to be held accountable for the terrible things they have done to our Wild Horse Herds.  Both Salazar and Davis are cattle ranchers and from what I can gather, consider BLM land to be their personal domain to run cattle for themselves and others, along with sheep ranchers.  Wild Horses have been ‘gathered’ by these inhumane methods for no other reason than to have no competition for the land for their own interests.  Salazar has considered himself above the law, e.g. witness his interview where he threatened a member of the press. All these years of writing letters, calling, and he has ignored every one. The roundups in Nevada were heinous as well as those in Idaho and in other states.  I will celebrate the day I see a cell door slam behind Salazar, Davis and others in positions of power who tried their best to eliminate our wild horses and burros, and all for greed.

Curious to know what the quid pro quot was? There is hardly a wheel that turns in government without the lining someone’s pockets, either directly or indirectly. There is nothing sacred, whether it be the environment, our drinking water, or animals, all can be destroyed for the right price, and our Congress is the auctioneer.

Patricia Vitelli

Feb. 24, 2013, 11:39 p.m.

Ken Salazar and Tom Davis must be held accountable for their actions!  It’s very obvious Ken Salazar and Tom Davis are long time friends and were in this little scheme together.  As far as I’m concerned Salazar and Davis have blood on their hands!  They belong in jail. The BLM seems to be a total farce, and I am outraged!  Instead of protecting these iconic symbols of freedom, that helped pave America, they are in fact guilty of allowing them to be slain for their own greed.  My heart bleeds for these beautiful wild horses who were bothering no one, and gave the American people a sense of our beginnings and our heritage.  How shameful!  Is this how we repay horses?  We owe it to them to give them true protection.  Letting BLM manage them is kind of like asking the fox to guard the chicken coop.  I just wonder how Ken Salazar, or Tom Davis can live with themselves.

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