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By Debbie Coffey         Copyright 2013          All Rights Reserved.

In memory of the late Dr. Patricia Haight, who worked hard for the Conquistador Program, I decided to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request based on some records she managed to obtain via her FOIA request.

Patricia Haight’s FOIA response included teleconference notes between a “team” of BLM employees who talked about slaughtering wild horses, among other things.  Cindy McDonald (American Herds blog) posted Haight’s FOIA documents (including the BLM’s discussion of alternative management options) in her library.

On the “Myths and Facts” page on BLM’s Wild Horse & Burro Program website, #2 states:

Myth #2: The BLM is selling or sending wild horses to slaughter.
Fact: This charge is absolutely false. The Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management care deeply about the well-being of wild horses, both on and off the range, and the BLM does not and has not sold or sent horses or burros to slaughter. Consequently, as the Government Accountability Office noted in a report issued in October 2008, the BLM is not in compliance with a December 2004 amendment (the so-called Burns Amendment to the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act) that directs the Bureau to sell excess horses or burros “without limitation” to any willing buyer.

In a 2008 e-mail, Sally Spencer, the BLM’s Supervisory Marketing Specialist, WAS NEGOTIATING TO SELL 10,000 WILD HORSES to someone in Canada.  Who would buy 10,000 horses?  And what for?  Certainly not to be used in movies or to graze on oil fields.

In this 2008 e-mail, Sally Spencer states:

“It was a pleasure to talk with you yesterday.  The horses that would be the easiest to get to Canada are the 10,000 sale-eligible horses (more than 10 years of age).  We recently sent a load of horses to Saskatchewan from a start point close to one of the Long Term Holding Pastures in Kansas.  A load is around 36 animals.  The total transportation cost was about $5,000.  Also you asked me about the cost of the horses in Long Term Holding.  We have estimated that the cost to care for the 10,000 sale eligible horses for the rest of their lives on Long Term Holding Pastures will be approximately $22 Million. 

There are still details to be worked out, however please let me know if you are interested in purchasing any of the horses and if so, when you would be ready for them.

Thanks, and I look forward to talking with you in the future.  Sally”

Also, in a hand written sentence below this (so there’s no telling when this part was written – in 2008 or when it had to be released in a FOIA request) is “Have $ from sale of horses be used to spare other 20,000 animals?”

Obviously, if the other 20,000 horses were to be “spared” (not killed), the person who wrote this knew that 10,000 horses would NOT be “spared” (and would be killed).

From the cheery tone of the e-mail, Spencer seemed to be selling horses to slaughter as easily as selling Tupperware.

To see the copy of Sally Spencer’s e-mail, click HERE.

So, would the BLM sell wild horses to slaughter?  You betcha.  The cover letter I received from the Washington FOIA office informed me that this sale “never came to fruition,” but no documents were enclosed as proof that it didn’t come to “fruition.”  (And, you know I’ll ask for proof.)

Is this another example of how the BLM “cares deeply” about the well-being of the wild horses?

To learn more:


And a huge thank you to Cindy McDonald, who’s retired but keeps a wealth of information for wild horse & burro advocates on her American Herds blog site.