Two years ago we learned about Tom Davis, the man the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), sold 1,700 wild horses to between 2009-2012. Davis, known to traffic horses to Mexico for slaughter, asked a reporter at the time, "What is wrong with taking all those BLM horses they got all fat and shiny and setting up a kill plant?"
None of the more than 1,700 wild horses the BLM transferred to Davis have been seen since. All likely ended up being killed for meat at slaughterhouses in Mexico.
The BLM told us this could never happen, but it did. They told us they'd investigate how this happened, but they didn't. They said it would never happen again; do you trust them? You shouldn't.
In fact, the BLM could be on the verge of implementing an even larger backdoor slaughter program than what we saw with Davis. Consider the evidence:
- The 2012 report that exposed Davis also revealed that the severely mismanaged BLM wild horse and burro program was under strain. "The agency has more wild horses than it knows what to do with," it said, "and Davis has become a relief valve for a federal program plagued by conflict and cost overruns."
- The program has now reached a crisis point in 2014. Various sources inside the agency confirm that there is no more room to hold wild horses and the head of the BLM's program stated in internal memo that it is on the brink of "financial insolvency."
- In the same memo we learned of plans to launch an "aggressive" sales program with "reduced" checks on where the horses end up. In other words, solve the agency's problems using the same "relief valve" that resulted in over 1,700 wild horses disappearing via Davis' hands.
- Pro-slaughter members of the agency's advisory board go a step further than "reduced" checks, however, and call for "unconditional sales," which is code word for slaughter.
- And pro-slaughter ranchers are piling on, filing a lawsuit that seeks to compel the BLM to sell horses without restriction and "destroy" horses it can't sell.
How did we get here? It's not as if 50,000 wild horses walked up and let themselves into BLM holding facilities. The crisis the BLM has created by removing thousands more wild horses than could be adopted has been a long time in the making and everyone -- including the agency -- knew it would reach a breaking point. Yet the roundups continued.
The agency then paid the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) more than $1 million to do a scientific review of the program. The results? NAS found that "continuation of 'business as usual' practices will be expensive and unproductive for BLM and the public it serves."
In essence, the NAS told the agency that its practice of rounding up and removing horses from the range is not sustainable, and that fertility control is available as a tool that the BLM can immediately implement as an alternative to the current approach.
So, why then hasn't the BLM implemented this alternative? Why does the agency look the other way as its problems get worse?
Many wild horse advocates suspect, with good reason, that the BLM is intentionally creating a crisis for which slaughter is the only solution.
And the facts -- from the Tom Davis episode, to the internal memo and movement of the "unrestricted sales" policy -- support this theory. So does the reality that the agency has been so lax in implementing reforms that it appears they welcome the disastrous situation to come.
We're not at the end of the road yet. There is still time to head off the BLM and put the agency on the path to reform, but we need your help to recruit some influential allies.
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign has just launched a new initiative to build support for our movement on Capitol Hill. The idea is simple. We're asking our supporters to encourage their representative and senators to sign the Keep Wild Horses Wild Pledge.
By signing the pledge, members of Congress commit to opposing any effort that results in the slaughter our wild horses and supporting the reforms to the BLM's program suggested by NAS. That's it.
We already have our first signature from Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), and with tens of thousands of other requests already submitted, we expect more will come soon.
As the BLM's problems get worse, we need to make sure members of Congress know where their constituents stand on this issue. Make sure your representative and senators hear from you before it's too late.
Follow Suzanne Roy on Twitter: www.twitter.com/FreeWildHorses