BLM Bucks Controversial Policy for Wild Horse Sale

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Washington, DC—The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) is gratified to learn that the Bureau of Land Management has rescinded a controversial sales policy for wild horses and burros in the United States that could have resulted in more animals being sold for slaughter in Canada and Mexico.

In May, the BLM quietly issued new guidelines to increase the number of federally protected wild horses and burros that could be sold at one time, with minimal oversight. Under the directive, 25 animals could have been included in a single sale with no wait time between transactions. Kill-buyers who intended to resell the animals for slaughter could obtain additional animals almost immediately—with no questions asked.

Several members of Congress voiced strong concerns about the BLM’s policy change, citing the agency’s lack of transparency and apparent retreat from its mandate to protect wild horses and burros from harm. In one bipartisan letter, Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV) and Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-FL), expressed frustration that the BLM’s new sales policy removed even the “bare minimum safeguards put in place to prevent wild horses and burros from being acquired by kill-buyers, transported across our borders, and sold for human consumption to foreign nations.”

AWI has been working with lawmakers in Congress to address the problem, and urged the BLM to reverse course on its disastrous new plan. More than 3,000 people responded to an AWI action alert opposing the new guidelines.

Under the Obama administration, the BLM strengthened its sales policy after the public learned that the agency had inadvertently sold 1,800 wild horses to a notorious kill-buyer in Colorado. This week, the agency returned to this more prudent policy, which allows an individual to purchase a maximum of four horses at one time, with a waiting period of six months between transactions.

“The BLM’s reckless policy would have quickly funneled federally protected wild horses into the slaughter pipeline, repeating some of the agency’s most egregious past mistakes,” said Joanna Grossman, PhD, equine program manager for the Animal Welfare Institute. “We commend the BLM for reinstating safeguards meant to prevent kill-buyers from illegally obtaining our nation’s cherished wild horses.”

You can read more about the BLM sales policy change here.

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Media Contact

Margie Fishman, (202) 446-2128, margie@awionline.org

Photo by Skeeze