The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

Working for better management options and cohabitation through compromise and communication for the American Wild Mustang

BLM horses seized in suspected slaughter ring

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on August 6, 2011


August 5th, 2011 @ 10:00pm
By Amy Joi O’Donoghue

(Video) HELPER  — Federal agents impounded 47 Bureau of Land Management horses Friday at the Port of Entry in Helper, preventing the likelihood of the animals being hauled by truck for slaughter in Mexico, officials said.

Gus Warr, the Utah director of the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro program, said the horses were safely delivered to the agency’s center in Herriman while the investigation continues.

“There were a number of red flags that went up in the beginning and it remains an active investigation with our agency, the FBI, state agencies and the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Warr said.

Multiple people are the target of the investigation, which spreads to Willard where some of the animals were held before being stopped in Carbon County, Warr said.

The sale of the animals occurred on paper at the Herriman facility but involved animals in the agency’s long-term holding pasture in Oklahoma.

A truck hauling horses travels the highway near Helper, Friday, Aug. 5, 2011. The horses were impounded by federal agents at the port of entry. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Unlike the bureau’s adoption program, these animals are direct-sold to buyers under an agreement that includes an intent clause that prohibits subsequent sale for slaughter, Warr said. The horses are 11 years or older and may be bought for use as brood mares, for private equestrian pleasure or simply put out to pasture by the purchaser.

The last U.S. slaughterhouse for horse meat intended for human consumption closed in 2007 under a ban that went into effect that year. The prohibition has not stopped wholesale shipments of live animals to either Canada or Mexico where they are slaughtered for human consumption — mostly to supply overseas markets.

Warr said the BLM is keenly aware of the demand outside of the United States and watches for so-called “kill-buyers” who purchase the horses for such a destiny.

“The BLM is trying to be proactively ahead of the game, which is what happened here,” he said.

But the owner of the truck that was hauling the horses said late Friday that her husband was only helping out a friend by allowing the horses to stay on their property, the DK Ranch in Willard.

KSL News is not naming the woman or her husband because the investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made.

“We are known for buying slaughter horses,” she said, “but it was just our truck that was being used.”

She said the animals were bound for Texas, but were not going to be slaughtered, adding that the type of truck they were being hauled in was not a slaughter-style truck.

But Warr said the paper trail of where the animals were headed did not match up to the reality of where they were impounded — leading his agency to believe they were intended for slaughter.

“Our primary concern at this point is that they were not going where they were supposed to,” Warr said.

—-

Written by Amy Joi O’Donoghue with contributions from Alex Cabrero.

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3 Responses to “BLM horses seized in suspected slaughter ring”

  1. Barbara Steele said

    So the horses are now “safe” at the Herriman Utah facilities after being “sold on paper at Herriman” and the killer buyer was only going to haul the horses to Texas, not for slaughter, as a “favor” AND these were LTH Oklahoma horses. What a “crock”! It’s TIME to get these guys(I suspect lots of “insiders”) and fry their butts!
    and I guess Texas being in drought and fire conditions needs more horses—-lol

  2. Jan said

    how did blm find out about this – thank heaven they did and intervened to save these horses – i think if private buyers want several horses – there should be a strict background check on the buyer – as to what purpose the buyer wants the horses for and then someone frm blm do a ck after the horses are moved – this is one time when the blm actually did what they are suppose to do – protect our wild horses.

  3. Lynette said

    Time and time again the BLM reminds us that they CAN sell horses to kill but do not. I don’t really understand this story unless someone can finger the BLM for knowing this was going on. The BLM does not like the public to know they sell to KB’s and they send horses to kill because it will the outaged public on their backs. They can only control so much public outrage at one time and they are busy fielding lawsuits and complaints against round ups right now. I’m sure their spin doctors are working on this.

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