BLM Responds to Colorado Killer Buyer Allegations and 1,700 Missing Wild Horses

By Steven Long

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – When an unimpeachable public service investigative journalism organization, the Manhattan based Pro Publica, entered the public policy debate over Bureau of Land Management treatment of the wild horses in its care, the issue decidedly took the ongoing probe to the next level. And major metropolitan daily newspapers sat up and took notice.

Pro Publica’s magazine length feature by freelance writer Dave Phillips was an exhaustive work alleging a well known Colorado kill buyer may have sent as many as 1,700 federally protected wild horses and burros to slaughter. The horses are missing, and thus far, the buyer, Tom Davis, has not stated where the animals have gone. When asked by Horseback Magazine if BLM would make a statement on the allegation that the Davis horses went to slaughter, BLM national spokesman Tom Gorey responded:

“The Pro Publica/Denver Post article on Tom Davis, it should be noted, does not provide any evidence that wild horses sold to Davis have gone to slaughter,” he said early Tuesday morning. “The BLM will investigate any credible claims that horses sold by the agency have gone or are going to slaughter.”

Even without revelation of his long history as a killer buyer, Davis went on the record to the publication.

“Hell, some of the finest meat you will ever iat is a fat yearling colt,” he said. “
What is wrong with taking all those BLM horses they got all fat and shiny and setting up a kill plant?”

Davis own words would be enough for a reasonable government bureaucrat to believe the vanished horses went to the meat truck.

When asked by Horseback what, by agency standards, constituted a credible claim, Gorey answered.

“Our law enforcement personnel will make that determination on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “The overriding goal in such matters is to prevent horses from going to slaughter.”

The agency’s publicly stated policy is that it does not sell horses to slaughter, however, kill buyers have taken advantage of lack of scrutiny by BLM personnel. The federal Bureau of Land Management has long been plagued by rumors protected horses under its jurisdiction are routinely sold to slaughter, allegations it flatly denies. On more than one occasion reports have reached Horseback that large cattle trucks leave BLM holding pastures in the dead of night headed for Mexico.

On its website, the Pro Publica crack investigative unit describes its leadership. “ProPublica is led by Paul Steiger, the former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal. Stephen Engelberg, a former managing editor of The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon and former investigative editor of The New York Times, is ProPublica’s managing editor. Richard Tofel, the former assistant publisher of The Wall Street Journal, is general manager.”

A pair of Utah killer buyers was indicted by a federal grand jury a year ago after being caught with 64 horses sold to them by BLM and allegedly headed to a Texas slaughterhouse. Named were Robert Wilford Capson, 59, of West Jordan, and Dennis Kay Kunz, 56, of Willard.

Capson was convicted of one felony count, received a year probation, 100 hours community service, and paid the government $9,400 restitution. Prosecutors are currently negotiating a plea in the Kunz case.

Asked if BLM had launched an investigation of the horses missing in Colorado in light of the serious and potentially devastating charges made in the Pro Publica, Gorey responded saying:

“I can’t comment on that.”

30 comments for “BLM Responds to Colorado Killer Buyer Allegations and 1,700 Missing Wild Horses

  1. marjorie hughes
    October 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Kunz is stil hauling horses to the lawless port of Presidio, Texas.

  2. Margaret
    October 3, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Think I was in the Courtroom (or downstairs in the overflow)for this. I know the Judges weren’t to happy with BLM and their arguments. Months later when the decision came out for me it was a huge relief.

    Laura has worked and worked to craft legal briefs. Mr. Cowan bless his heart has become a horse warrior because he fights just as hard in Court for our horses representing Laura.

    When you meet Laura you can ask her most anything. And she will explain things in “human”! Not legal talk that is sometimes very confusing!

    I’m am so steamed (insert cuss words here)that I haven’t yet made any emails cause all I’d do is cuss. I need a chance to calm down, think rationally and compose a letter that expresses my anger in appropriate detail. It is outrageous that BLM says “Oh we don’t sell horses to slaughter” and yet out the back door they go.

    This brings to mind something that Laura was subjected too. A couple of years back there was a roundup, and Laura drove like mad to keep up with the truck headed for Gunnison State Prison. Once there she was subjected to a pat down, her camera was taken and while it was returned it no longer worked. She was attempting to locate a particular horse that was on the truck. What I wonder now is– did prison officials block Laura while horses were being moved from one truck to another–shipping to slaughter? It’s an ugly thought but one worth mentioning.

    And while others refuse to believe that our government can and has shipped horses to slaughter there have been numerous people stating that they live near holding pens and they hear trucks in the night.

  3. Royhobbscolorado
    October 2, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    I have one thing to say:

    REQUEST a complete and thorough FOIA (Freedom of Information Act).

    Do it for the following:

    Long and short holding pastures
    Contractors and buyers
    USDA and border records for branded mustangs leaving country and destination
    Deaths, injury, abortions, separation and so on during round ups

    I could go on and on.

    It’s been 8 years since the Burns Amendment was shoved into the Appropriations Budget back in 2004.

    Only one FOIA so far as I know has been requested and when it showed wild horses were being sent to slaughter, the BLM set up long term holding pastures.

    The only way Philipps was able to obtain the number of wild horses Davis bought was through a FOIA request on all bulk receipts….horses sold by the truck load to buyers.

    Again…it it way past the time for a 100% thorough FOIA on the BLM and the whereabouts of our wild mustangs.

    This will go a LONG way to shedding light on the truth.

    • admin
      October 2, 2012 at 10:14 pm

      Horseback has submittied scores of FOIA requests to BLM for almost a decade. Almost all have been complied with and have been published.

      The Editor

  4. s kelly
    October 2, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    There is a big campaign in Europe to halt the trucking of horses huge distances (eg from Russia to Italy)just to be slaughtered at the end of the journey. They have evidence of the cruelty involved in this and the stress on the horses. Perhaps they could help you bring in a law to ban live transport of horses for slaughter. If the horses had to be killed before transport the BLM could not deny where the horses are going.

  5. October 2, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Take note BLM: YOU are now really on our radar screens, I mean you’re even on the non-horse peoples radar screens too, so that’s A LOT of people, so any employees that wish to clear their consciences and maybe avoid PROSECUTION when this whole scam/racket blows wide open here shortly, NOW is the time to come clean and tell the people of the United States who for the most part treasure these horses, and also pay for them to be taken care of and NOT slaughtered, and also the FBI and other authorities BESIDES the BLM (who are obviously involved in this slaughter ring as many of us have suspected for a number of years) what you KNOW and we can finally get back to abiding by the LAW, and PROTECTING OUR WILD HORSES. Even if you’re kind of low on the pecking order, nows especially the time to come clean because YOU KNOW that the higher-up’s will roll on you and they could get off scott free, while you rot in JAIL.

  6. LoriSchmidt
    October 2, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    If you want to help on this issue of Mustange going to slaughter, you can do one or two things, this link will tell you how via letters and e-mails and also donations to help fund Wild Horse Education to stay in the field and document the treatment of our mustangs from the time they are stampeded off of the ranges. The “roundups” commenced today in the Antelope Complex, we need a representative there to document, last year was a disaster for these horses we dont want a repeat performance. Thank you!!
    and here is a link to video of last year’s Antelope roundup.–DY&feature=player_embedded
    To quote Wild Horse Education : Antelope roundup last winter… so much was different yet so much has stayed the same. Back then all the eco-santuary was going to do was “leave them home.” Back then we screamed again about inhumane care, but at the very next roundup we learned and took it to Federal Court and got a TRO that turned into an INjunction against pilot conduct (the case fights on in the Courts, towards Trial). The helicopters fly again in Antelope today… we have no gas funds to get there, so light a candle in prayer with us tonight for them…

    • Janet Schultz
      October 2, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      Laura, err – Lori: Huh? Why does every issue that comes up have to swing to your DONATION button? Haven’t you stuck your nose into this business enough? What does your attending roundups have to do with SA horses going to slaughter!!!

      • LoriSchmidt
        October 3, 2012 at 6:39 pm

        Janet I am exactly who I say I am but thank you I am flattered that you would think I am one and the same as Laura Leigh. Get a life you silly woman. You are sounding like a stuck record with all your bull, lies and hatred that you and you ilk are spreading. If you spent half as much time actually doing something constructive for the horses instead of trying to create a smear campaign you might gain some semblance of credibility, thus far you just sound like a frustrated hack.

  7. Lisa L.
    October 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    This agency… every once in a while (and with alarming frequency), it’s caught doing something contrary to it’s own policies and to the WH&B Act. So the responses from agency representatives aren’t surprising, just…aggravating.

    It’s been firmly illustrated, over the last 5 years or so, that less-than-publicly-popular solutions to BLM’s self-perceived problems with wild equines have been given serious consideration. And it seems more consideration has been devoted to expediently getting rid of wild equines – both on-the-range and in Holding – than has ever been applied to meaningful changes within a failed management program.

    What began as an gesture of altruism – the Act itself – has been amended and ‘re-interpreted’ and shot so full of holes, it’s barely recognizable as ‘protection’ for these animals. Otherwise – honestly – why would administration of this Act continually fall to people with ties to ranching or livestock expertise?

    The responses aren’t surprising. Consider everything that occurs within this Program: roundups that occasionally denigrate into cruelty – with no repercussions; population estimates – as a whole or in individual HMAs – that are biologically improbable; land-use plans and documentation that skew science to villify wild equines – in their legally designated homes; unnaturally low forage allowances for wild equines which virtually guarantee ‘overpopulation’.

    In these instances, there is always a good reason (or excuse) or an utter denial. Don’t be shocked or surprised at any responses to this. And certainly – don’t be shocked or surprised that nothing comes of it once the furor dies down. How many investigations in recent memory have come to an appropriate conclusion?

    This is an insular agency, immune to the blandishments, opinions and ire of the Public. But you have to wonder… Getting caught: How many times is too many times?

  8. October 2, 2012 at 11:01 am

    As more people are exposed to this well investigated and well written story, it will bring the public attention to the fate of these 1700 Wild Horses and Burros. ALL of the advocates have known in their hearts that mustangs were going to slaughter, and many horses with the mustang brand have been photographed in killer trucks, and in the slaughter lines in Mexico and Canada. This story is a gut-wrenching necessity to rally the American Public behind a demand for an accounting from the BLM and a better future for the Symbol of the American West. The Iconic Mustang.
    Please everyone in every way, keep this report circulating throughout the USA and Canada. And Thanks to Dave Phillips for his work on this subject, the Pro Publica group for its support and my friend, Laura Leigh for the assistance she was able to give the reporter after her years of documenting the Wild Horses and the BLM.

  9. Janet Schultz
    October 2, 2012 at 10:52 am

    What do you expect him to say? Would you like him to spout off on unstantiated claims and further trash prosecution of the criminals in and out of the system. Your article just adds to the grief of these times.

    Being a “courtroom” groupie, you should know he cannot respond. So what you have done here is place pressure on a process that HAS to be done quietly, and for what purpose.

    Maybe you should check the motivation behind your attempt to interfere with an investigation that is long overdue and has already suffered breach.

    It IS about the horses, not you.

    • admin
      October 2, 2012 at 10:56 am

      I strongly disagree with you Janet. Investigations that are “done quietly” are the ones we most often find under the rug. Sunshine cures all ills, particularly when it comes to out of control government and bureaucracy as is the case here.

      The Editor

      • Linda Horn
        October 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm

        COME ON!!! Unless you know something others don’t, the slaughter allegations were made without substantiated proof. The “chain of evidence”, culminating in freeze-branded horses being transported from the BLM facilities over the border in slaughter trucks, didn’t happen, and I seriously doubt it ever will. Despite Davis running off at the mouth, this “investigation” is only hearsay. Whatever REAL evidence the BLM thought might have the slightest connection was buried immediately after the article was published. Good luck getting through THAT stone wall! They blew it. They know it. Admit it!!!

        • October 2, 2012 at 8:17 pm

          Linda the FOIA documents and information on Davis includes the USDA brand Inspections to kill lots. Yes, there is a lot of “hearsay” going on. But Philips is not the one perpetuating it.

          • Janet A Schultz nee McNutt
            October 2, 2012 at 11:43 pm

            You just don’t get it – do you?

          • October 3, 2012 at 12:45 am

            Janet Schultz is someone that “doesn’t get it.”
            She is all over FB right now claiming the Ninth Circuit win is a loss… because she can quote the decision out of context. I guess the law professors writing about the win and all the news stations that cover Court issues know less than an angry woman on Facebook.

          • admin
            October 3, 2012 at 7:02 am

            With more than 2,000 hours in the courtroom and almost 40 years covering the courts, lawyers, and legal matters, as a journalist, the Laura Leigh victory was the biggest win of any of the many matters in litigation involving wild horses to date. It also has the potential for setting precedent. Ms. Schultz is either ignorant of such things or has an agenda all her own. Horseback is proud to have been named in the Leigh vs. Salazar decision by the Ninth, and we continue to be proud of the work of Laura Leigh who we have credentialed as a special correspondent.

            The Editor

          • LoriSchmidt
            October 3, 2012 at 6:45 pm

            Thank you for this endorsement Horseback!!!! I am also very proud to be a WHE volunteer and to be associated with Laura Leigh and I will continue to do so despite the attempts of people like Ms Schultz who have nothing better to do than spread unsubstantiated lies and hatred and yes I do suspect that Ms Schultz is ignorant but also that she does has her own hidden agenda along with her cronies and it is most certainly nothing that will benefit our horses, I cannot name one thing that she and her cronies have done that is positive.

          • Joe
            October 8, 2012 at 7:33 am

            Remember when you supported both sides of the story?? Must be getting OLD!!

            dmin on October 8, 2011 at 12:39 am

            Joe, thank you for participating in this forum. We welcome all points of view, including yours. We have an enormous problem in this scountry when Americans don’t talk to each other as we are all seeing in Congress. However, I don’t believe I read of anybody accusing you of sending bute laden horses or cattle to slaughter. I believe you were asked if you sent bute laden animals to slaughter. Please keep your comments coming.

            The Editor

          • admin
            October 8, 2012 at 8:32 am

            Okay Joe, you are back in. Cite only mainstream media or government reports. Use no material from Humane Watch or other bogus groups such as that.

            The Editor

          • Joe
            October 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm

            Thank you

            I would like to post a comment you made last November insinuating that LEE, Skip and Joe supported the use of illegal drugs. That statement is far from the TRUTH. Here is your comment. Thanks for letting my comments Steven Long

            admin on October 7, 2011 at 4:46 am

            To add to the discussion, Horseback just completed an extensive series of stories on horses taken to slaughter across the border and held in deplorable holding pens in Presidio, Texas. Of the horses tere, the Texas Animal Health Commission told us in an interview that the same Coggins documents were being used over and over again for different horses coming into the pens. What on earth makes anybody believe that a system this dishonest would be honest about drugs in slaughter bound horses. Speaking from my personal perspective, the posts of Lee, Skip, and Joe today have made me have second thoughts about eating U.S. beef for fear the slaughter industry is overlooking bute in food animals in total violation of the FDA ban of that drug and about 25 others on the EU list. I’m a confirmed carnivore (had roast beef tonight) but this has given me pause. My question to all of you gentlemen who are more than happy to sell bute contaminated horsemeat to consumers – are you selling contaminated beef as well?

            The Editor

          • admin
            October 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm

            We stand by our suspicions regarding the sale of bute in cattle considering your cavalier attitude regarding the slaughter of bute laden horses for their meat on the open market.

            The Editor

          • Joe
            October 9, 2012 at 4:56 am

            Thank you Editor for say I am a cavalier attitude person. I find this a very good complement, as the Webster Dictionary defines that as meaning an armed horseman (2) gallant gentleman, a lady’s escort and a casual person.

            Thank you very much for your kind thoughts and words. Sometimes you can be so KIND.. Your friend JOE

          • Joe
            October 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm

            Thanks Editor

            Would you be so kind to explain why I should not post anything from Humane Watch or other bogus groups such as that. This seems hypocritical don’t you think when you used their site here on this post? Thanks for the space Joe

            admin on April 5, 2012 at 8:08 am


          • admin
            October 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm

            If I used Humane Watch it was an accident. This is a bogus group posing as humanitarian. It is not accepted her, period.

  10. Cherie Howe
    October 2, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Tom Davis and his revolting attitude to horses and burros is just one of many who think that way.
    Until there is significant deferents in place, these appalling excuses of ” humanity” will continue to buy and kill horses and burros.
    I can’t say what I’d like to do to Tom, but in view of the terror, pain and suffering that he has and that he will continue to inflict on animals, returning the favour seems only just.

  11. Carol Huff
    October 2, 2012 at 10:42 am

    100 hours of community service and paid restitution cannot bring these beautiful animals back to life. What a shame that these innocent, gentle creatures paid the ultimate sacrifice because of greed and cold-hearted individuals like Capson, Kunz, and Davis. But the real culprits here start with Salazar and go down from there. Why is Salazar still the head of this project? I demand that he be removed immediately and replaced with someone who has a heart…someone who has the best interests of these horses as his/her most important waking thought each and every day. This is a disgusting group of people, and we as citizens of this land owe it to these wild animals to protect them. Please call your senators, representatives, congressmen, and the president of the United States today.

  12. Barbara A. Dillon
    October 2, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Please stay after this. I am so upset; at what I keep learning; about the fate of OUR “National Treasures”; the wild horse. I have been writing my senators, congressmen and the White House. Very frustrating to be in Wisconsin and feel so wronged. And to have no say; in what horrific barbaraic things are being done out West. I am ashamed of the BLM and anyone in cahoots with capturing. penning, harming or otherwise actually selling these beautiful creatures; for slaughter. Utterly shameful! Thank You for listening – Barb Dillon

  13. October 2, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I sure wish someone would nail them for these actions. They are the American Public’s Wild Horses (and Burros), and we want to stop the death, destruction and horrible misconduct that is going on with the BLM.

Comments are closed.