By Steven Long
Photo by Laura Leigh
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – The chief Washington spokesman for the federal Bureau of Land management gave an answer to allegations by a California Republican congressman that wild horse were routinely going to slaughter to relieve bulging holding pens.
In a letter to a constituent, Rep. Elton Gallegly (R) of California implicated the bureau in the slaughter of North American Mustangs in the aftermath of their ongoing “gathers” which wild horse advocates claim will spell the end of the species.
In the letter dated February 10, Gallegly wrote, “I believe that the commercial sale and slaughter of free-roaming horses is a horrible and unnecessary practice. However, the BLM claims this slaughter is necessary due to overpopulation in holding pens and the rising cost of care for the animals.”
“The BLM’s position — that we do not sell or send any wild horses or burros to slaughter — is stated clearly on our Quicks Facts page(http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/wild_horse_and_burro/wh_b_information_center/Fact_Sheet.html) and on our Myths and Facts page http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/wild_horse_and_burro/national/about/myths.html).”
Tom Gorey said, both pages can be accessed from our national Website (www.blm.gov).
The highly placed BLM official also challenged rumors spread by wild horse and burro supporters that horses are being transported from the secretive holding pens where tens of thousands are warehoused in the dead of night. The pens, on private property, are funded by virtully the entire budget of the BLM’s Wild HOrse and Burro Program.
“If anyone has any evidence whatsoever that trailer loads of wild horses are leaving holding facilities in the middle of night, we urge that this evidence be immediately turned over to law enforcement so the matter can be fully investigated.”
Wild horse advocates have long urged observers to turn over documentary evidence including film and pictures to federal law enforcement; however, they have also stated the documents should not be turned over to BLM security.
The story broke Sunday night, however, Gorey did not respond to Horseback’s request for comment until Tuesday due to the President’s Day holiday.