BLM is Still Violating Settlement Agreement on the Slaughter of Adopted Wild Horses

The Fund for Animals has filed a response to

the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in United States

District Court, claiming that the BLM is still failing to

implement the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act

and the parties’ 1997 settlement agreement that intended

to stem the tide of adopted horses going to slaughter.

In a recent court hearing, Judge Howard McKibben told the

BLM that it is not working hard enough to implement “very

simple steps” to prevent adopted horses from ending up at

slaughterhouses. Judge McKibben asked the BLM to submit

more information within 60 days on the number of horses

slaughtered in the last two years and whether it has

prosecuted those cases, and to state for the record that it

will no longer title horses unless the adopter signs a sworn

attestation not to use the horse for slaughter.

In response to that directive, BLM has filed papers revealing

that the extent of its “investigations” into potential

violations of the attestation is to ask adopters whose horses

end up at slaughterhouses how their horses were disposed

of, and whether the adopter intended that the horse be

slaughtered. BLM revealed that, while at least 332 horses

removed from the wild and put up for adoption in the past

two years are already dead, including more than 90 horses

who were dead less than three months after the adopter

obtained title, BLM has initiated only a single prosecution for

violating the attestation.

Howard Crystal, an attorney representing The Fund, stated,

“Evidently, so long as adopters are not so foolish as to flatly

admit that they violated the attestation, that appears to be

the end of BLM’s inquiry regardless of the objective

circumstances suggesting that a horse ended up being

slaughtered only months or weeks following the transfer of


In the response filed by The Fund, the organization

suggested that the BLM “has offered nothing but smoke and

mirrors” in trying to convince the court that it is taking any

steps even to prevent people whose adopted horses were

slaughtered from adopting again. As evidenced by

slaughterhouse logs obtained by The Fund, this data is

readily available to BLM, and there is simply no reason for

BLM not to inquire about past adoptions or affirmatively

ensure that a prospective adopter’s previously titled horses

have not been slaughtered.

Andrea Lococo, Rocky Mountain coordinator for The Fund,

added, “The papers filed by the BLM have simply heightened

our concern that the agency is operating under a new ‘don’t

ask, don’t tell’ policy, avoiding the follow-up questions and

reasonable inquiries. These animals are America’s living

symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West, and

they do not deserve to end up on European dinner tables.”

The 13-page response filed by The Fund is available by

calling 307-859-8840.

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