Thursday, January 28, 2010

Former Senator regrets his part in BLM wild horse and burro program

Tuesday's Horse

2010 January 28

by Fund4Horses
Clifford Hansen, a former U.S. senator from Wyoming who introduced the bill to create the program, said he now wishes he could remove his name from the legislation. The law was intended to recognize the significance of wild horses and burros,” said Hansen, now 84, “but talk about a waste of public funds!
Trail’s End for Horses: Slaughter,” by MARGARET MENDOSA, Los Angeles Times, January 5, 1997
The waste Senator Hansen refers to is not just about taxpayer dollars, but includes the very lives of our significant wild horses and burros.
Mendosa tells how wild horses and burros rounded up by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) disappeared into the caverns of slaughterhouses to reappear as chunks of meat for overseas diners, some at the hands of BLM employees.
From the same article:
The AP matched computer records of horse adoptions with a computerized list of federal employees and found that more than 200 current BLM employees have adopted more than 600 wild horses and burros. Some of these employees, when contacted, could not account for their animals. Others acknowledge that some of their horses were sent to slaughterhouses.
In Rock Springs, Wyoming, the BLM corrals are run by Victor McDarment, whose crew rounds up horses from open ranges in Wyoming and arranges adoptions. According to BLM database records, McDarment has adopted 16 horses. His estranged wife adopted nine. His children adopted at least six. His girlfriend adopted four. His ex-wife adopted one. His co-workers in the corrals and their families adopted 54. McDarment said he could not account for the whereabouts of all the horses. “I don’t keep track,” he said. Some ended up with Dennis Gifford, a Lovell, Wyoming, rancher and rodeo contractor who said he has tried to breed them for rodeo stock. He said he is sure some of McDarment’s horses were slaughtered. They have to end up somewhere, Gifford said.
The horses in question were killed at Cavel West in Redmond, Oregon. In 2005, a group of wild horses ended up in another Cavel slaughterhouse, this time at the new Cavel International plant in DeKalb, Illinois.
A first group of six wild horses were slaughtered on April 18. The horses, rounded up by the BLM from Antelope Hills Herd Management Area in Wyoming, were purchased on April 15 by Dustin Herbert, a former rodeo clown from Meeker, Oklahoma who, posing as a minister, told BLM officials he intended to use them in a church-run program for troubled youth.
A week after this first incident, another group of 35 mustangs sold under the new law to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota were also slaughtered at Cavel International, elevating the total number of wild horses killed to 41. The tribe traded 87 of the 105 horses it bought from the BLM for younger ones. Officials from the agency recovered the remaining 52 wild horses from Cavel’s pens and from Nebraska from where they were on route to the Cavel slaughter plant.
Source: Habitat for Horses article
Reports from the field allege that America’s wild horses and burros to this day are being routinely sent to slaughter for human consumption. Tracking wild horses and burros rounded up by the BLM is increasingly difficult due its haphazard and sometimes absent branding and record keeping system. Using freeze-brand numbers and computer records is how the Associated Press uncovered that wild horses were going to slaughter in Mendosa’s report. Shabby management on the part of the BLM, or intentional cover up?
At the time former Senator Hansen spoke of his connection with the BLM wild horse and burro management program, President Bill Clinton was completing his first term in office. Since then, the death and destruction of America’s wild horses and burros has continued under both Democratic and Republican regimes.
The roundups of wild horses and burros, however, have accelerated at an alarming rate under President Obama’s administration, despite numerous public protests across the country, and the pleas of outraged Americans calling for a halt to these cruel and unnecessary roundups, and a full scale investigation into BLM conduct in the management of the Wild Horse and Burro program.
Senator Hansen, a rancher who rode his agricultural background to political success, died in October, 2009, at the age of 97. Senator Hansen did not live to see these latest travesties committed through a program he regretted being instrumental in creating.
It is not only taxpayer money being wasted by BLM failures, but also the significant lives of countless wild horses and burros who will soon vanish from the American horizon, perhaps forever, and unless stopped, into the bellies of who knows how many more foreign diners.
thin gray line
Interesting Fact: In 1980, Hansen was President-elect Ronald Reagan’s top choice for interior secretary, but turned it down because his wife and daughter owned grazing leases in Grand Teton National Park. Hansen is also famous for being the leader of what is known as the sagebrush rebellion. — The New York Times

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