Controversy Over Wyoming Estray Horse Gather, Sale

A gather, conducted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), of horses belonging to the state of Wyoming drew fire from wild horse advocates, who say the animals were too quickly sold to a Canadian horse processing firm.

Sarah Beckwith, public affairs officer for the BLM office in Worland, Wyo., said the BLM gathered 41 estray horses that had wandered onto federal land north of Graybull, Wyo., on March 18 and 19. Estray horses are those which were owned at one time by private individuals, but which were turned out and abandoned, Beckwith said. The BLM gathered the horses because the state of Wyoming does not gather estray animals, and because the animals had wandered onto federal lands, she said.

“A brand inspector from the Wyoming Livestock Board was present at the trap site, and took possession of the animals,” Beckwith said.

Wyoming Livestock Commissioner Lee Romsa said that the agency did not participate in the gather, but that the inspector at that site saw that the horses had no identifying marks or tattoos.

“The horses were taken to the Worland Sale Barn where they were sold to the highest bidder,” Romsa said.

Romsa said the highest bidders were Bovary Exports, a Canadian horse processing firm, and Terry Warneke. A group of four colts were sold to another buyer, and then resold to another owner, Romsa said.

Patricia M. Fazio, PhD, statewide coordinator for the Wyoming Wild Horse Coalition, said the quick way in which the sale took place left wild horse advocates little time to negotiate with buyers. At the same time, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign has hired an environmental attorney to assess whether or not any laws were broken, Fazio said.

“We are in the process of researching just what really happened here, and the verdict is not yet in,” she said.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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