KBR Wild Horse and Burro News


Story date: October, 1997

Webmaster's Comments: This document is a reproduction of a news account describing a negotiated settlement between the above parties which followed a lawsuit by the Fund for Animals and Animal Protection Institute against the BLM to deal with alleged abuses by some adopters of BLM program animals.

Please note that this document is a news account. Furthermore, as a negotiated agreement, there has been no proof presented that the BLM or its employees have been involved in illegal or inappropriate activities. This report indicates areas where all parties agreed that adoption program rules needed to be strengthened.

SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 16, 1997--A lawsuit over abuses in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)'s wild horse and burro adoption program ended yesterday when BLM agreed to a settlement.

The lawsuit, filed by Sheila Hughes Rodriguez for the Animal Protection Institute (API) and Howard Crystal of Meyer & Glitzenstein for the Fund for Animals, was brought after BLM ignored for 10 years an injunction against transferring ownership of wild horses and burros to individuals who planned to use the animals for commercial purposes, including slaughter.

Under the settlement agreement, BLM will add specific language to the Private Maintenance and Care Agreement that allows it to prosecute anyone who adopts a horse or burro for slaughtering or commercially exploiting the animal. Although the Wild Horses and Burros Act prohibited this practice, BLM was never required to affirmatively inquire into an adopter's intent.

BLM will also enter into an agreement with slaughterhouses in the United States and Canada that will require each slaughterhouse to retain records on all BLM freeze-branded horses, and allow BLM to inspect these documents upon demand. The slaughterhouses will be required to notify BLM immediately whenever a BLM freeze-branded horse without titling papers arrives on the premises.

BLM also voluntarily committed to negotiating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allow USDA inspectors, working in the slaughterhouses, to notify BLM whenever they become aware of a BLM freeze-branded horse.

In a solid victory for the plaintiffs, BLM will publish a final rule to prohibit the use of powers of attorney in the adoption process. Power of attorney has long been abused by individuals who ultimately sold large numbers of horses for slaughter, as many as 1,000 horses per year.

"The most important thing about this settlement agreement," said Rodriguez, "is that it is enforceable. If BLM fails to accomplish anything under the agreement, it will have to explain why to a U.S. district court judge."

Rodriguez added, "Furthermore, there is nothing to prevent API or the Fund from filing a motion for contempt of the injunction we secured 10 years ago to prevent BLM's adoption abuse."

The Animal Protection Institute and the Fund for Animals are national non-profit animal advocacy organizations.

Please Note:

BLM representatives were not quoted in this article, therefore it is a little one sided. Also it has historically been the USDA, not the BLM, who has jurisdiction over slaughterhouses.

To view the actual language of the lawsuit, click here.

This is not a BLM operated or BLM sponsored site. It is run by private wild horse and burro enthusiasts.

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