Increased Scrutiny for BLM Mustang Sales

Increased Scrutiny for BLM Mustang Sales

Proposed draft language would amend the agency's sales contract to require that sales of five or more animals during a six month period by a single buyer will require authorization of the BLM's Assistant Director for Renewable resources.

Photo: Alexandra Beckstett, The Horse Managing Editor

Single buyer purchases of five or more wild horses or burros from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over a six-month period will come under tougher agency scrutiny if proposed changes to BLM mustang and burro sales contract are approved.

BLM Spokesman Tom Gorey said that proposed draft language would amend the agency's sales contract to require that sales of five or more wild horses or burros during a six month period by a single buyer will require authorization of the BLM's Assistant Director for Renewable resources. The changes remain pending under review, he said.

Gorey said that the changes respond to recent reports that since 2009, Colorado-based livestock hauler Tom Davis purchased more than 1,700 mustangs from the BLM, then sold the animals for slaughter in Mexico. The current BLM mustang and burro contract forbids buyers from knowingly selling or giving away animals for processing into commercial products; those who do sell or otherwise transfer horses for processing face federal charges.

"It’s a definite fact that (Davis) bought 1,777 horses from our agency," Gorey said. "In all we sold 5,400 horses since 2005, and he has been our biggest buyer."

However Gorey said one report insinuating that Davis sold the animals he purchased from the BLM for slaughter in Mexico was unsubstantiated.

"No evidence was offered (in the article) that he had done that," Gorey said.

Circumstances connected to the Davis purchases are currently under investigation by the Inspector General for the Department of the Interior, Gorey said.

"We await those findings," Gorey said.

Laura Leigh, president of the wild horse and burro advocacy group Wild Horse Education, said that the proposed changes in the BLM sales contract will do little to prevent unauthorized mustang sales to processors.

"Sales are already 'authorized' through BLM's Washington, D.C., office, so what will that change?" Leigh said. "Compliance checks and actual viewing of a live animal might make a change."

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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