The Obama Administration’s Stealth Horse Slaughter Program

The Obama Administration has said repeatedly that it opposes horse slaughter. But actions speak louder than words. What’s happening now in Nevada suggests that the Administration — through its federal agencies — is actually complicit in sending horses to a slaughter auction.

1. This notice of a livestock auction — which is frequented by kill buyers who purchase horses and transport them to slaughterhouses in Canada or Mexico — tipped us off that the Feds were up to something. 700 horses don’t just appear out of nowhere, so we did some digging.


2. And we discovered this back room deal between the U.S. Forest Service and an Indian tribe to spend our tax dollars to capture wild horses and deliver them to the slaughter auction despite the stated opposition of the Administration to horse slaughter.


3. Under this arrangement, there is no way to distinguish between unbranded horses owned by the tribe from unbranded horses who are wild and protected under federal law.

The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have a legal responsibility under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act to ensure that protected wild horses on federal lands do not end up being slaughtered. In this case, the feds have admitted that horses were herded off public lands (green and light brown above) and due to the close proximity of the capture area to a BLM Herd Management Area, we believe that many of the captured horses are federally protected wild horses.

4. And since kill buyers frequent livestock auctions like these, this arrangement would result in federally protected wild horses being slaughtered. The LA Times describes it this way:

The unluckiest of America’s wild horses end up in places like this: a livestock yard in rural Nevada, where potential buyers coolly assess each animal’s physique, looking for a deal…In the crowd are so-called kill buyers scouting product to ship to a foreign slaughterhouse.


5. This is why we brought legal pressure on the Forest Service who quickly folded and told us and the media that they would postpone the roundup and transfer of wild horses to the tribes.


6. What they didn’t tell us was that the tribe executed the roundup anyways!

7. Now there are 417 wild horses awaiting their fate at the slaughter auction.

Wild Horse Education / Via  

8. Including this yearling

Wild Horse Education / Via  

9. And this mare and her foal

Wild Horse Education / Via  

10. The Forest Service’s boss, Tom Vilsack, has said he doesn’t want to see horses slaughtered:

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told reporters Wednesday Congress should come up with a better solution for handling unwanted horses than slaughtering the animals for meat for human consumption.


11. But kill buyers are already lining up to purchase these horses and truck them to slaughterhouses in Canada or Mexico.

12. UPDATE 8/16 @ 1:30pm ET: People are taking to Twitter, including well known actress Wendie Malick, to demand the USDA confiscate all unbranded horses.


13. UPDATE 8/16 @ 4:30pm ET: We’ve filed a lawsuit against federal lawsuit to block the sale of wild horses at a slaughter auction:

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A federal judge agreed to hear last-minute arguments Friday from wild horse advocates seeking to block the sale of hundreds of wild mustangs, likely for slaughterhouses if a weekend auction goes forward, claiming the animals are federally protected mustangs that were rounded up illegally by a Nevada tribe.


14. UPDATE 8/17 @ 9:00am ET:

15. UPDATE 8/17 @ 11:30am ET: A Temporary Restraining Order has been served. We’re on site.

16. UPDATE 8/17 @ 1:30pm ET: Horses are being sorted — branded from unbranded — to comply with TRO. Branded horses will go on sale soon. The first kill buyer just pulled into the lot…

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