BLM issues new “sales” guidelines for wild horses vulnerable to slaughter

Today BLM issued a press release announcing a new policy regarding animals in it’s “sale authority” program. Wild horses and burros made available to the public fall into two categories: animals for adoption that usually sell for $125. or more each and title is transferred only after a one year period or through sale where animals can go for as low as $5.00 and title is transferred immediately.

In September of last year an explosive investigative piece was released through ProPublica by journalist Dave Phillips. The investigation, assisted by Wild Horse Education, uncovered a convoluted and corrupt trail that revealed 1,700 horses sold to a kill-buyer with alleged personal ties to the Secretary of Interior himself. During the explosive nature of the controversy Ken Salazar, the acting Secretary of the Interior, threatened to punch journalist Phillips in the face. You can read more about the investigation here:

Public outrage on this issue has been intense. Calls and letters have bombarded the agency, President and Congress demanding an accounting and change.

We at Wild Horse Education feel that the change is a start to protections for these vulnerable animals. The talk about a “memorandum” however, is NOT policy and carries no weight of enforcement. Repealing the Burns Amendment, or “sale authority, is the ultimate goal. The Amendment itself has never had a full on challenge and may very well be unconstitutional. However the public should see this as a sign that we can effect change… but we must be persistent, accurate and timely.


BLM Issues New Policy regarding Conditions on Wild Horse and Burro Sales

The Bureau of Land Management today announced a policy – in the form of what’s known as an interim Instruction Memorandum – regarding new conditions and restrictions on wild horse and burro sales.  The new policy was prompted by the BLM’s overall effort to improve its management and care of wild horses and burros that roam Western public rangelands.

“Today’s announcement marks another step forward in our agency’s steady improvement in ensuring the health and humane treatment of wild horses and burros, both on and off the range,” said BLM Acting Director Mike Pool.

The new policy, which is effective immediately, will remain so until the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program publishes additional guidance on wild horse and burro sales.

The policy stipulates that:

  • No more than four wild horses and/or wild burros may be bought by an individual or group within a six-month period from the BLM without prior approval of the Bureau’s Assistant Director forRenewable Resources and Planning.
  • When buying wild horses and/or wild burros, purchasers must describe where they intend to keep the animals for the first six months following the sale.  Without prior approval from the Assistant Director, the BLM will not sell more than four animals destined for a single location in this six-month period.
  • Buyers must provide transportation for the purchased animal from the BLM’s short-term holding corrals or other locations to its new home.  Specifics regarding acceptable trailers can be obtained from the new interim policy, which is posted at:
  • The BLM will inspect trailers and reserves the right to refuse loading if the trailer does not ensure the safety and humane transport of the animal.

The BLM encourages anyone who has observed inhumane treatment or the sale to a slaughterhouse of a federally protected wild horse or burro, or who has factual information about such an incident, to contact the Bureau at or 866-4MUSTANGS (866-468-7826) with your name, contact information, and specific information about what you saw or know about.

Help keep us in the field and the courtroom!

Help keep us in the field and the courtroom!

3 thoughts on “BLM issues new “sales” guidelines for wild horses vulnerable to slaughter

  1. I don’t mean to sound bitter or disbelieving, but I have become a product of my environment: After personally witnessing for over 3 years and researching decades of failed ‘policies’ in the Wild Horse and Burro Program, what I’ve found is an utter lack of compliance with or enforcement of existing policies; it’s difficult to even hope that this policy will be any different.

    Before empty flourishes are yet again released to the media in another weak and watery attempt to polish their image, the Bureau of Land Management might pause to consider the simplest and most basic tenet: ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS.

    Stop doing this thing that always comes off as a Hail Mary. DO what the Act mandated. Protect these animals like your JOBS depended on it. Blow your horns AFTER you have shown adherence to the letter of the law. This policy? should NOT have been an afterthought, 40 years later, when apparently everybody BUT the Bureau knew what was going on.

    It should have been a commandment written in stone.

  2. I know there are some BLM employees to do care about the wild mustangs and burros, but IMHO, it’s “management” that doesn’t care one bit. And yes actions to speak louder than words. In video after video, you see the contractors, paid by the number of horses & burros rounded up, display such brutal treatment and then blythely dismiss it as “an isolated even”. Really? Of all the videos Laura has on this sight, and the public is supposed to buy that crap? Don’t insult my intelligence BLM!

  3. Pingback: Caught in a Tangled Web, the reality of wild horse slaughter | Wild Horse Education

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