Return to Freedom purchased this eye-catching stallion from the Bureau of Land Management for $25, less than the cost of adopting a dog or cat at many shelters.
We named him Black Moon.
RTF operates a sanctuary willing to give a home to older, in-tact stallions like him; few others will take in a stallion that has not been gelded, let alone a mature stallion (indeed, during the same online BLM auction, a bidding war broke out over an older stallion that had generated buzz but that later died under anesthesia while being gelded).
On March 20, 2015, the day of the auction, no one was bidding on Black Moon, who’d lost his freedom during a roundup on the Sulphur Herd Management Area in Utah. BLM said that he was 20 years old (under the law, sale-eligible wild horses and burros are those passed over for adoption three times or that are 10 years or older).
Fearing that they’d fall into the hands of a kill buyer, RTF purchased Black Moon and his buddy Merlin for $25 apiece.
We bought them at a time when the agency’s limit was no more than four sale-eligible wild horses every six months without special permission.
In May of this year, BLM quietly changed that sale policy. Now, one buyer can purchase up to 24 wild horses or burros per day — with no waiting period, no oversight, and no questions asked.
That means a single person could conceivably purchase 8,760 wild horses or burros in a single year.
Think about it: Who besides someone buying wild horses on the cheap and transporting them to slaughterhouses purchases hundreds — even thousands — of animals?
Another question: How do we measure the suffering of a wild horse captured, after living its whole life on the range, or the terror of a wild horse that finds itself in a crowded trailer headed south to Mexico or north to Canada for slaughter?
BLM says it does not sell to known kill buyers.
Believing that requires that the public place trust in an agency trying to rid itself of wild horses through back door, even as advocates fight a push by the same agency to use dangerous, costly and unproven field sterilization surgeries on wild mares.
Believing that requires that we trust BLM over our own eyes (and those of our veterinarians’) when we look at many wild horses now living at our sanctuary that BLM once branded for long-term holding or sale that couldn’t have been 10 years old at the time of sale.
We cannot let BLM’s sale policy change stand.
America’s wild horses and burros – including mature stallions like Black Moon – deserve a better fate than slaughter.