A few weeks ago, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) quietly issued a new policy loosening limitations on the number of wild horses and burros that can be sold to any one buyer. Under the new directive, 25 animals can be included in a single sale with no wait time between transactions--meaning buyers who intend to resell the animals for slaughter ("kill-buyers") can obtain additional animals almost immediately.
The Trump administration's reversal on this front offers a troubling path for wild horses to wind up directly in the horse slaughter pipeline. The BLM's previous and more prudent policy allowed an individual to purchase up to four horses at one time, with a wait time of six months per transaction. The four-horse limit was put into place after the public learned that the BLM was inadvertently funneling wild horses to a notorious kill-buyer. In 2015, the Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General (OIG) released an alarming report outlining how the BLM had allowed a staggering 1,800 wild horses to be sold for slaughter due to lax oversight of the adoption program.
Wild horses and burros are federally protected under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. As part of the annual appropriations cycle, Congress regularly passes language explicitly stating that it is illegal to sell these equines for any purpose that results in their "destruction for ... commercial products." Despite this, as the OIG investigation revealed, it is far too easy for kill-buyers to purchase wild horses and transport them across the border to meet a grisly fate in a Canadian or Mexican abattoir.
Please contact the BLM and let the agency know that this roll-back of existing protections is unacceptable. The BLM must uphold the statutory mandate to protect these living symbols of the West from harassment and death.
Be sure to share this alert with family, friends, and co-workers and encourage them to contact the BLM as well. Thank you for speaking out on behalf of America's wild horses!
Joanna Grossman, PhD
Equine Program Manager