IMG_20140823_132107_665Wild horses next to bison at the Beef Belt Feedyard in Scott City, Kansas in 2014

By Debbie Coffey, V.P. and Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved.

In the middle of June, 2014, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) moved 1,493 wild horses from the Teterville Long Term Holding pastures in Oklahoma to the Beef Belt Feedyard in Scott City, Kansas. Over 13% of these wild horses died at this feedlot.

191 of the wild horses died in less than a year (7/7/14 – 6/30/15).

In a BLM “news” release dated 8/15/14 (over two years ago), the BLM announced that 57 wild horses had died at the BLM’s Scott City, Kansas “corral.” In this news release, the BLM stated that it had “launched an investigation” into the cause of deaths, and promised that “Once the investigation is concluded, the team will complete a report that will be made publicly available.”

To date, over two years later, the BLM has not made any report available to the public about the Scott City feedlot deaths.

Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and found out that 196 horses died at the Scott City feedlot from 6/17/14 – 8/2/16.

87 of the 196 wild horses were euthanized.

41 wild horses died of colic. Many of these deaths were from sand colic. As late as 4/13/15 (10 months after the wild horses were shipped to this feedlot), local veterinarian Corbin Stevens wrote to BLM’s Joe Stratton “Be sure hay and bunk is free of sand and rocks (try to only throw hay from feed alley into the bunk eliminating road material)” and “A necropsy was performed on one dead horse from pen 2 today and was diagnosed as a colic with small pebbles and sand present in the large colon and cecum.” However, BLM’s FOIA did not provide WHFF with a necropsy report dated 4/13/15.

14 wild horses died of fractures of the spinal cord (neck and back). 6 horses died of leg or pelvis fractures. On just one day, 4/3/15, 3 horses died of a brain/head injury and 2 of a broken leg/pelvis. With the comment “Inspected by Dr. Stevens. Result of windstorm – ran into fence.”

Timeline:

March 24, 2014 – Long Term Pasture contractor for Teterville in Oklahoma (Robert Hughes), gives short notice to the BLM by informing them he decided to renew his existing 5 year contract, but only for a reduced number of horses. He informed the BLM that he wanted to remove 1,900 wild horses (about 1,400 mares and 500 geldings) by June 1, 2014.

(The BLM seems to have never thought of or planned for an emergency, so they begin to scramble for a place to put 1,900 wild horses on short notice. The BLM was able to find space on other Long Term Pastures for the geldings, but not for the wild mares.)

May 28 (or 27) 2014 – Pat Williams, the WH& B State Lead for New Mexico inspected the Scott City, KS, feedlot for NEPA analysis. Although a working facility with a squeeze (“tilt”) chute was required, the contractor for Scott City, Phil Jennings, didn’t want to install that infrastructure until the contract was signed. Phil Jennings, who was going to lease the Beef Belt feedlot for this emergency contract worth over $2 million, is the contractor for the BLM’s Pauls Valley facility in Oklahoma.

June 4, 2014 – BLM signed the contract. BLM’s Zach Reichold was designated as the COR (Contracting Officer’s Representative).

June 14, 2014 – BLM began moving wild horses from Teterville Off Range Pasture (long term holding) to Scott City, KS. The BLM crew at Teterville LTH was Scott Fluer, Bea Wade, Richard Williams, Jimmy Galloway and Pat Williams. 3 horses were euthanized before leaving Teterville. The BLM crew at Scott City was Jerome Fox.

June 22, 2014 – BLM concluded the transfer of mares to Scott City.

July 7, 2014 – Local veterinarian, Dr. Corbin Stevens, states 3 times in a report that less than 2% of horses have a body condition score of 3 or lower.

July 17, 2014 – Dean Bolstad discovered there was no squeeze chute or BLM Project Inspector onsite and discussed the need for this with Zach Reichold (the COR).

July 25, 2014 – Dean Bolstad informed Greg Shoop that there was no squeeze chute or BLM project inspector onsite at Scott City.

July 2014 – 35 wild horses died during this month.

August 5, 2014 – after veterinarian Dr. Stevens met with BLM’s Joe Stratton, Stevens states in a report that 5% of horses were in poor body condition when they arrived at the feedyard. (this differs substantially from the 2% that Stevens claimed several times in his July 7 report)

August 8, 2014 – BLM issues it’s news release.

Aug. 11, 2014 – BLM began “transitioning” Joe Stratton as the COR of Scott City.

Aug. 12, 2014 – BLM’s Pat Williams and Al Kane (USDA APHIS veterinarian) arrive at Scott City to perform an inspection.

Aug. 13, 2014 – Joe Stratton was “to go onsite.” The squeeze chute was to finally arrive and plans were made for working facilities to start to be made and installed. (almost 2 months after the horses arrived)

Aug. 28, 2014 – In a KMUW news article, BLM’s Paul McGuire stated “The first full-month report we had from the facilitator operator came at the end of July. And it was at that time that we saw numbers on the order of about 47 horses had either died or had to be put down during that time.” (However, the records WHFF received indicate that 35 wild horses died at Scott City during July, 2014, and only 3 horses died the month before. That totals 38 at the end of July, not 47. WHFF found several instances of mortality numbers not matching on BLM records in connection with Scott City.)

August 2014 – Another 46 wild horses die by the end of this month. (total 81)

September 2014 – another 25 horses die by the end of this month. (total 106)

June 19, 2015 – Dr. Stevens informs Joe Stratton that there is a mare with a vaginal growth that appears to be infected and that Naxcel and surgery may be warranted. No freezemark number or description was given.

Feb. 2, 16 – Dr. Stevens informs Joe Stratton that a mare with a tumor extruding from vulva needed to be euthanized. (It is not apparent from any records if this palomino mare was the same mare with the vaginal growth from 6/19/15, that may not have received needed surgery, but since this was the only mention of a vaginal growth, it could be likely.)

May 17, 2016 and May 19, 2016 – About 2 years after horses were shipped to Scott City, even though the Teterville contractor had given the short notice that lead to this crisis, the BLM ships 5 truckloads of horses BACK TO TETERVILLE. (The BLM started shipping horses out of Scott City after April 25, 2016 (1,311 were there end of month). By end of May, 2016, 576 were there. Shipping records from June 2016 show that more horses from Scott City were shipped to other long term holding pastures. Per BLM’s Dec. 2016 Off Range Facility Reports, Scott City is no longer listed as warehousing any wild horses.

Oct. 14, 2016 – AP reporter Dave Philipps writes an article (that reads like a propoganda piece for the BLM), titled “Success Spoils a U.S. Program to Round Up Wild Horses.” This article, filled with misinformation, included a photo of Teterville contractor Robert Hughes, a video of wild horses at Teterville, a quote from BLM’s National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board member, Ben Masters (who voted to kill all the wild horses in holding), and a quote from Dean Bolstad, the Wild Horse & Burro Division Chief, stating that “We’re in a real pickle…” (No, Dean, the BLM isn’t “in a real pickle,” the wild horses and burros are “in a real pickle.”) There was no mention in Philipps’ article about what happened to the wild horses from Teterville at Scott City.

There were necropsy reports for 24 horses sent in response to our FOIA request for all necropsy reports. One of the necropsy reports did not have a date or time on it, and a couple of them didn’t identify the freezemark numbers of the horses.

Excerpts from necropsy reports of wild horses at Scott City:

8/6/14, 5 p.m. – #4805 – atrophy of fat around heart. Natural causes/old age. Collected blood prior to euthanasia.

8/6/14, 5 p.m. – #2687 – old age. Liver failure.

8/6/14, 5 p.m. – #6404 – natural causes/old age.

8/12/14, 5 p.m. – #020937 – small intestine hemorrhage. Cecum torsion. Colon enlarged and full of feed. Died of colic.

8/12/14, 5 p.m. – #945088 – natural causes. Old age.

8/16/14, 5 p.m. – #6940. Natural causes. Collected blood prior to euthanasia.

8/27/14, 6 p.m. – #8737 – cecum enlarged, displaced. Colic.

9/6/14, 12 p.m. – #05180369 – inflammation around pericardial sac. Died of heart disease/failure.

9/6/14, 12 p.m. – very large, infected coronary arteries. Heart failure.

9/12/14, 6 a.m. – #3675 – small intestine inflamed. Cecum inflamed. Feed material in abdomen. Colic. Ruptured gut.

9/18/14, 5 a.m. – #0041 – colic.

10/20/14, 4:30 p.m. – #7435 – cecum enlarged & hemorrhage (sand). Colic. Twisted gut.

10/21/14, 4:30 p.m. – #1062 – cecum enlarged/hemorrhagic/full of sand. Sand colic.

10/21/14, 4:30 p.m. – #9240 – cecum enlarged/hemorrhagic/full offals. Colic. Impaction.

11/12/14, 5 a.m. – #6761 – bloated. Cecum ½ full of sand. Died of sand colic.

12/15/14, 6 p.m. – #97175205 – bloated, cecum & colon full of feed. Colic. Impaction.

1/13/15, 6 p.m. – “mustang mare” (no ID) – bloated. Colic.

3/11/15, 6 p.m. – #19964528 – ulcers. Bleeding ulcer.

4/17/15, 9:30 a.m. – “grey mare” – bloated. Cecum hemorrhage & inflammation, colon hemorrhage & inflammation – sand. Died of colic. Sand in large intestine.

5/11/15, 12:30 p.m. – #2074 – bcs<3. Unable to maintain weight due to age.

5/18/15, 6 p.m. – #8724 – ulcerations & hemorrhage, bleeding ulcer

5/20/15, 5:20 a.m. – #8513 – Bloated and cecum full of sand. Died of sand colic.

5/20/??, 6 p.m. – #6532 – bcs<3. Unable to maintain condition.

No date or time listed for this necropsy – #3756 – heart enlarged and infarcts. Heart failure.

By not issuing a report regarding Scott City to the public as promised, or in a timely manner, the BLM seems to just want to sweep what happened at the Scott City feedlot under the rug. Wild Horse Freedom Federation will not ever forget even one wild horse or wild burro that has suffered at the hands of the BLM’s mismanagement.

WILD HORSE FREEDOM FEDERATION HAS POSTED FOIA DOCUMENTATION ON SCOTT CITY ON OUR WHFF WEBSITE DOCUMENTS PAGE – CLICK HERE.

SOURCES:

BLM news release (8/15/14) : https://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2014/august/NR_08_15_2014.html

KMUV news article: http://kmuw.org/post/80-mustangs-die-after-move-scott-city

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