Man Under Federal Investigation For Selling Wild Horses To Slaughter Houses Worked On Salazar Family Farm

November 16, 2012
By

A man under federal investigation for selling wild horses for slaughter worked on the Salazar family farm, according to a relative of Secretary Salazar. The Secretary denies any business connection.

WASHINGTON — The Colorado man under federal investigation for selling American wild horses to Mexican slaughter houses worked for the family farm of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, according to a Salazar family member.

Tommy D. Davis, a 64-year-old livestock hauler from La Jara, Colo., worked as an independent contractor once or twice on the Salazar family’s sprawling farm and ranch in nearby Manassa several years ago, said Salazar’s older brother LeRoy.

“I hired him once or twice to haul a load of cattle from one place in the valley to another place in the (San Luis) Valley, from winter pasture to summer pasture. It was about a 90-to-100 mile trip,” Salazar said in a phone interview Thursday. He added that Davis transported 40 “big cows” and 50 smaller cattle back and forth across the San Juan Mountains, which span the four-corners region.

Davis was quoted in a story for the online publication ProPublica in late September in which he said he had done “quite a bit of trucking” for Ken Salazar and that he and his late father had farmed the Salazar family’s land. He did not respond to three phone calls for this story.

Blake Androff, a spokesman for Secretary Salazar, said “(t)he Secretary has no recollection of Tom Davis, and to his knowledge has never had any business dealings with him.” He did not elaborate.

Ken Salazar’s present ties to the family farm are unclear. His older brother LeRoy, one of eight Salazar children, said he manages the farm but not the ranch. Salazar’s biography on the Department of Interior’s website said he was a partner on the family farm and farmed for more than three decades. After his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004 and subsequent confirmation as Interior Secretary in 2009, Salazar, 57, has lived for most of the year in Washington.

The Secretary’s relationship with Davis gained national attention after Salazar threatened to punch a Colorado reporter last week who had inquired about his department’s probe of Davis. Salazar apologized to the reporter, Dave Philipps of the Colorado Springs Gazette, on Wednesday.

Since Salazar’s tenure at the Department of the Interior began nearly four years ago, Davis has bought more wild horses from the agency than anyone. “He’s the biggest buyer of all the buyers,” Bureau of Land Management spokesman Tom Gorey said. BLM records show that Davis has purchased all but 36 of the 1,777 wild horses since 2009. Davis bought 466 in 2009, 437 in 2010, 599 in 2011, and 239 this year.

Gorey said the BLM “does not and has not knowingly sold or sent horses or burros to slaughter.” But the agency’s sales to Davis aroused the suspicions of wild-horse advocates, who noted he had made statements in support of horse slaughter. The Office of the Inspector General at the Interior department has launched an investigation with Colorado officials into Davis’ sales of the animals, Gorey indicated in a statement.

The BLM has struggled to find buyers of the horses, even though it sells the animals for $10 a head. Hay prices are up substantially in recent years and few Americans have stepped up to purchase the animals since the federal government began auctioning them in 2005. Most of the wild horses and burros live on federal land in Nevada, Colorado, Utah, and California. “Wev’e sold 5,400 horses since 2005. That’s not a lot since we have 47,000 horses,” Gorey said.

For wild-horse proponents, Salazar’s ties to Davis raise questions. “His fingerprints are all over this. He’s said that these horses should not be on federal land. He’s personally angry about wild horses living on the public domain,” Ginger Kathrens, executive director of the Cloud Foundation and a volunteer for Salazar’s 2004 campaign, said in an interview.

Kathrens said she finds it difficult to believe that Salazar does not know that Davis buys wild horses from the federal government and sells them to slaughterhouses, noting that the two grew up 10 to 15 miles from one another. “Everybody knows everybody down there,” she said.

Salazar and Davis did graduate from the same small high school, Centauri in La Jara, but were not classmates. Davis graduated from the school in 1966, according to a woman at the school who declined to give her name. Ken Salazar graduated from there in 1975, according to public records. LeRoy Salazar said his brother spent two years at the high school after being enrolled at St. Francis Seminary in Ohio. Centauri High School has 277 students in grades 9-12, according to Brian Lach, an assistant principal at the school.

Davis is a well-known figure in the region. In 1976, he co-wrote a self-published book, “Be Tough or Be Gone: The Adventures of a Modern-Day Cowboy.” It described a 4,500-mile trek he made on horseback with a livestring from El Paso, Texas to Fairbanks, Alaska in fewer than six months to win a $500 bet.

While Salazar said he has no memory of Davis, he acknowledged that overseeing the National Wild Horse and Burro Program has been a challenge. “To tell you the truth, the wild horse issue has been the most difficult issue we have dealt with,” Salazar told Philipps in his phone call Wednesday.

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

17 Responses to Man Under Federal Investigation For Selling Wild Horses To Slaughter Houses Worked On Salazar Family Farm

  1. November 18, 2012 at 8:12 am

    OMG! That is so disgusting.

  2. November 19, 2012 at 8:04 am

    There has to be a way to control the horse population other than slaughter !! If a program was put into place to inject mares and sterilize them or stallions I’m am sure if you asked owners of domestic horses (registries, show people and news letters in magazines asking for donations ) to donate even $10.00 and that would keep the wild horses in their wild state . They were there before cattle and should be there even with cattle ! There is an old saying “let alone which was once there” !!! Horses were there first !! Leave them alone !

  3. Nora Suppers
    November 19, 2012 at 9:33 am

    It is so rare to find a fair and unbiased story about the criminal removal and ultimate slaughter of America’s wild horses on federal land – land set aside for wild horses, not private cattle ranchers.
    I hope that more of these articles, disclosing the true nature and illegal activity that is going on with Ken Salazar and the BLM, will inspire citizens to demand a change in Washington. Remove Ken Salazar from Sec’y Interior and appoint an intelligent, compassionate leader with respect for the environment and American people to this very important office immediately.

  4. Steven Kind
    November 19, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Has anyone investigated where the horses that were purchased by Davis have gone? Does he have a large ranch and the capacity to feed that many horses?

    • Elizabeth Kozlowski
      November 19, 2012 at 6:59 pm

      American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign has researched the issue. Ken Salazar and friends seem to be systematically removing or diminishing the wild herds so that there is not enough diversity in the gene pool to maintain the herds. This is all for the sake of grazing cattle on public lands. I wonder what the public gets out of this? There are a few other organizations researching and trying to rescue the captured horses, a great number of which die during the roundup as no consideration is given for pregnant mares, foals or actually anything else.

      • Lisa Marie Jacobs
        November 20, 2012 at 10:09 am

        While I whole-heartedly oppose the slaughter of horses, and I support maintaining herds on public lands, I do believe that cattle raised on open range are far healthier for the public than those raised in misery on factory farms. As a resident of Colorado who sees this situation first hand, I do believe there is room for both.

  5. November 19, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Oddly enough, there is a peculiar incident in American equestrian history which mirrors the basic elements surrounding the Davis-BLM controversy, ie unwanted horses, government officials and a businessman with questionable ethics.

    But to understand the present we must look at the past.

    Late 19th century cities were powered by tremendous herds of urban dwelling horses.

    To give some idea of the immense numbers of horses, one New York stable occupied the whole front of the west side of Tenth Avenue and extended down Fifty-Third and Fifty-Fourth Avenues, half way to Eleventh Avenue. The building was three stories high and housed 1500 horses.

    But one of the drawbacks of employing so many horses was the need to efficiently dispose of their bodies when they unexpectedly died in service.

    In the early 1880s the city of Manhattan reported that on average it removed eight thousand dead horses a year from the streets. By 1910 the number had risen even higher. The need to deal with dead horses prompted cities to take action.

    Chicago solved the problem by authorizing a sharp businessman named Jack Brennock to remove the dead animals. Though the deceased horses cost the knacker nothing, he promptly sold them to a glue factory for five dollars.

    Brennock’s business prospered so quickly that he employed ten wagon crews to remove the never-ending supply of horses. Within ten years he was a millionaire living in a palatial estate on the exclusive west side of Chicago. http://www.lrgaf.org/articles/nags-riches.htm

    Easy money and unwanted horses.
    Sound familiar?

  6. CR
    November 19, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    “The BLM has struggled to find buyers of the horses, even though it sells the animals for $10 a head.”(quoted from article)

    The only ones allowed to purchase at $10 a head are business men. Adoption fees by US citizens start at $125 and go up. So Davis (and others) can buy them at $10 a head without application and I have to come up with $125, apply, be investigated and approved before allowed to bid? That’s messed up!

  7. Barbara Ellen Ries
    November 20, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    BLM Secret Documents to Extermination of the Wild horses under Secreatary Salazar

    Dr Pat Haight an extra ordinary horse advocate sent for this information under FOIA and then informed the USA Wild horse advocates

    If you want to know what Ken Salazar and BLM say about wild horse extermination READ this site information on the right side below the picture.

    BLM spends millions of dollars on media to keep the public uninformed.
    http://conquistadorprogram.org/blm__court_documents_on_wild_horses.
    Questions can be directed to the Cloud Foundation Ginger Kathrens. Dr Pat Haight has made her transition and is truly missed by all who knew her work.

    Thank you Pat for all your hard work ~ You made the history books.

    http://tuesdayshorse.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/outrage-over-secret-documents-planning-to-kill-or-slaughter-50000-native-wild-horses/

  8. Rhys Greene
    December 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Tom Davis should be barred from buying any more horses until a full investigation can be accomplished. Then I hope that he will be punished to the full extent of the law….which I imagine is not harsh enough. I cannot understand why “greed” seems to be the driving force in today’s world. What happened to “right vs wrong”? Where are our morals and ethics? Obviously, some people do not even understand these questions.

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