BLM Director Bob Abbey to speak at pro-horse slaughter convention
Las Vegas, NV (December 23, 2010)—The Cloud Foundation voices its concerns today over the significant BLM participation in the early January “Summit of the Horse”, better known as the “Slaughter Summit”. BLM Director, Bob Abbey, will be a keynote speaker at the conference, which purportedly ties wild horse management to the “solution” of horse slaughter. American wild horses must be protected from groups trying to profit from their slaughter. Director Abbey’s taxpayer-funded trip to Las Vegas to participate in a conference supporting horse slaughter is concerning.
“The BLM’s significant participation in this slaughter summit is truly troubling,” states Cloud Foundation Director, Ginger Kathrens. “The BLM needs to change course and begin listening to the American people who are calling for the protection and preservation of our wild herds, not to those who would profit from their flesh.”
Joining Director Abbey is the BLM’s longtime primary roundup contractor, Dave Cattoor, who, in 1992 pled guilty to one federal misdemeanor of “aiding and abetting” the use of an aircraft to illegally capture wild and free horses. The horses were sold to a Texas slaughter plant. Despite this conviction, BLM continued to award Cattoor millions of dollars in roundup contracts. Other speakers of note at the conference include current BLM Wild Horse and Burro Public Advisory Board member, Dr. Boyd Spratling DVM and Larry Johnson, who served on the Advisory Board for over ten years and made no bones about supporting the euthanasia of healthy wild horses in government holding facilities.
Organizers of the Summit promote the building of horse slaughter plants in the USA that would export horsemeat to Asian and European markets. Wild horses, essentially “grass fed”, are not tainted by drugs and dewormers, thereby making them more vulnerable to slaughter. The European Union, tightening food safety regulations, currently prohibits all wild equid meat except for that of zebras. Despite BLM assertions to the contrary, wild horses are sent to slaughter in Mexico and Canada regularly (link to video).
“How many of our wild horses sent to long term holding have ended up in slaughter houses?” questions Kathrens. “BLM lacks a transparent tracking system in order to account for the thousands of animals sent to numerous facilities around the country. To make matters worse, independent observers are denied access to these facilities to confirm the total number of animals being held.”
Horse slaughter is illegal in the US where horses are not consumed. The majority of horses sent to slaughter are young, healthy animals while others are barely able to walk and may be old and infirm, deserving of humane euthanasia—not slaughter.
The Master of Ceremonies for the Summit is agricultural talk show host and former disgraced pork factory farmer, Trent Loos. Conference organizers include the leading advocate of horse slaughter, Sue Wallis, Republican State Representative of Wyoming. Wyoming resident, Patricia Fazio, Ph.D. recently filed a complaint with state officials for alleged violations of ethics laws and securities fraud by Representative Wallis.
“They call the wild horses ‘feral’ and the slaughter horses ‘unwanted’ to denigrate them,” explains author RT Fitch. “The proponents of horse slaughter complain about the cost of wild horses in holding, but completely ignore the hundreds of millions of dollars shelled out by taxpayers to subsidize privately-owned livestock on public lands.”
The Cloud Foundation requests transparent tracking of all American wild horses removed from the wild and held by the BLM as well as an independent count of the estimated 40,000 wild horses in long and short term holding corrals and pastures. Wild horses cost little on our public rangelands but more than $40 million annually when incarcerated in government holding. Meanwhile, subsidized privately-owned livestock graze the majority of the wild horse ranges, at a net loss of at least $123 million per year. Restoring wild horse and burros to the more than 24 million acres removed from them over the past 40 years along with reinstatement of the more than 150 “zeroed out” herds while managing ranges “principally” for wild equids would effectively solve the “wild horse problem,” created through decades of mismanagement by the BLM.
Currently the BLM is removing the last of America’s wild horses and burros from Western public lands at enormous taxpayer expense—animals that Congress intended to remain free and unharmed. Population estimates, based on BLM’s own data, reveal a wild population of less than 20,000 wild horses and burros remaining now on American western public lands—at least 5,000 fewer than roamed free in 1971 when Congress decreed wild horses and burros to be “fast disappearing” and unanimously passed the Wild Horse and Burro Act. In 1971 there were more than 8,000 burros. Today BLM reports there are 4,7000 but likely far fewer. The BLM’s target population is only 1,200 burros.
On December 10th the US House of Congress agreed to a budget increase for BLM, giving the broken program $75 million to continue the roundup/removal of America’s wild herds. However, this week the Senate held BLM funding at 2010 levels until March by passing a Continuing Resolution. This resolution did not include the additional $12 million requested by BLM and did continue the prohibition to not allow the use of federal dollars to kill healthy wild horses or sell them for slaughter.
The Cloud Foundation will continue to push for a “defunding of the roundups” as legitimized by a recent independent report on the BLM’s mismanagement. Economist Dr. Caroline Betts of Southern California University estimates that wild horses and burros will undergo rapid extinction in as little as 11 years if BLM is allowed to continue on the current track of removals.