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  • Writer's pictureStaci-lee Sherwood

Madmen of the prairie: making millions killing America’s wild horses & burros

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

By Staci-lee Sherwood

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is often referred to as the most corrupted of the agencies that fall under the Dept of Interior jurisdiction. It’s a massive agency of thousands of employees charged with overseeing hundreds of millions of acres of public land. They’re also in charge of leasing for oil and gas exploration and for the livestock prog ram. The wild horse & burro program is probably this agency’s most notorious program because of its questionable unproven statistics, lack of science based data and openly hostile attitude toward anyone that questions their policies and sources.

Over the years the wild horse & burro program should be renamed to rancher’s choice award program because of the agency’s open favoritism toward the ranching industry. They defy federal law by removing the wild horses and burros effectively stealing their land and giving it to private industry. Justification for this is done by using vague propaganda sent to uneducated media, closing off access to the public, threatening intimidation toward those that challenge them and greenwashing the truth. Here’s how they do it.

It’s eradication not a ‘gather’. It’s important to understand the psychological manipulation the Bureau of Land misManagement (BLM) uses when choosing certain words. Their wordplay is designed to make the public feel more than think when they read a press release or see a news story on tv. Let’s start with the word ‘gather’ which sounds like a group of housewives who gather at the coffee shop. The real adjective is removal and it’s a physically and psychologically brutal one for the horses and burros who have to endure it. It’s also a shocker for the people who witness it many of whom end up suffering a form of PTSD. The entire wild horse & burro program is based on false accusations, non-existent scientific data, questionable ethics of those in charge, hidden criminal backgrounds of those hired to do the dirty work and pseudo wild horse advocacy groups.

Starvation is a bold and powerful word one that conjures up images of tired, weak animals with bones showing. This is the go to word for the BLM because subconsciously people hear that and think oh poor horses we need to rescue them they have no food. Over the years there have been hundreds of images taken of wild horses on the range and only a scat few actually show a horse looking like he’s missed a few needed meals. The vast majority show healthy active horses with proper weight. A closer look reveals a nice coat, clear eyes, no visible wounds or injuries. This is hardly the image of starving desperate horses in need of rescue.

Drought is another favorite word for the BLM to pass around when needing to justify the removal, not a gather, of our wild horses and burros. Amazingly this mysterious lack of water and food never seems to be an issue for the millions of cows and sheep shuffled into the exact same range just days after the horses are removed. This miracle of sustenance has never been explained because it can’t be. This isn’t even gaslighting anymore the ranchers are too emboldened to waste time on that. They know big brother has bestowed on them a protective shield from the questioning public.

Multiple use is perhaps the most popular word among government employees because it’s not definable. Like pornography everyone has their own definition of what that is. This has always been code for hunting, drilling and mining. These activities are often deemed unacceptable by the majority of Americans on public land or in a wildlife refuge so these actions are couched in a more palatable word that no one can clearly define…’multiple use’. This term is often inserted into legislation without anyone paying attention as a backdoor to revisit after it becomes law to expand hunting, mining and drilling.

Overpopulated is another excuse the BLM throws around. The National Academy of Science said otherwise and said the BLM had no scientific basis or rationale for any of their claims. Most observers not paid off by the ranching or energy industries agree. For years numbers alluding to this overpopulation of wild horses have been put out there with no proof. The BLM knows it’s not possible to count every horse, the range is too vast. However it’s clear from those those who truly have the horses and burros welfare at heart there is no overpopulation and in fact legitimate science proves they are under populated.

The inane ‘path forward’ was concocted by the Cattlemen’s Association and oil & gas companies. Their claim is the horses and burros have to follow an arbitrary ‘AML’ (appropriate management level) or end up starving and thirsty from all this lack of food. This AML is not defined by proven facts but the ranchers own agenda. They convinced a willing unethical government and con artists to point to this as the line in the sand which if crossed leads to dire consequences. Their claim is the land lacks capacity to sustain our horses and burros at current levels. It was really designed to slowly quietly exterminate all wild equine so the land could be opened up to more livestock grazing and drilling without the barrier of protected species.

Rounding out the con is the Humane Society, itself rife with fraud and corruption, and Return to freedom who either is clueless about politics or is perpetuating their own con game. All this being done at the horses and burros expense. These so called horse advocate groups have set in motion extinction and are worse than the industry folk whose agenda is at least out in the open. If you donate to the HSUS or RTF you are supporting this.

Feral or non native are the last of the buzzwords. Fossils have been found showing equines were in north America pre Ice Age then likely re-introduced several hundred years ago. One can say that white Europeans aren’t native either and perhaps we too should be removed. If you follow the premise of non native than everyone but native Americans would have to vacate the US. Regardless of when wild equines got here those that are here now were granted full legal protection in 1971.

The BLM has used these six magical words for decades to excuse away what is both ethically and legally wrong. The true description would be the BLM hires violent men with criminal backgrounds to remove America’s wild horses and burros. Despite their having legal protection they’re subjected to a variety of abuses from hotshots and whips to punches and being shot. Taken off their native range most seem to be driven straight to a rendering facility on US soil or taken to nearby friendly tribal land to be held until they are taken across the border for slaughter than shipped to Europe and Asia.

This is done so the few companies the BLM hires, along with complicit and culpable government staff, can make millions much of which is probably not even taxed. Say that to the public and you get a backlash. Tell the public the feral overpopulated horses and burros are starving, sickly and thirsty while damaging the public lands so they are being gathered for their own good and kept at holding facilities until adopted and you have support. And the game begins.

The entire program is predicated on lies, fraud and banking on the misinformed public. Look closely at BLM own data and the claims about overpopulated wild horses destroying the land don’t hold up if the livestock are able to survive. As evidenced by their own map it’s the livestock not the horses doing the damage.

The Wild horse & burro program is a multi pronged program. First they use trigger words to justify their policies knowing none of that can be proven. They rely on the public’s emotions to steer them toward supporting an agenda they would never knowingly support. They use phony advocacy groups like American Mustang Foundation and Protect the harvest, both a cover for the ranching and energy industries, to spin their web of lies.

‘Starvation, drought and multiple use’ all pictured here. There is no lack of food for ‘starving’ wild horses and burros if there is plenty for these sheep. Same goes for water. As for ‘multiple use’ livestock are allowed not mandated to use public land but the phrase multiple use is used to shut down the public’s questions.

Here is the truth in living color. You can’t deny unless you’re paid to, this is the first but not last reason our wild horses and burros are being removed from their native lands. First come the flood of livestock then oil and gas swoops in as the land will be devastated and can no longer sustain any life.

Does this look like a safe humane ‘gather’ to you or a brutal sadistic removal preformed by millionaire wranglers, some with federal indictments for animal abuse?

Photo Wild horse education

Unenforced federal law allows the BLM to scapegoat horses and burros while giving everything to livestock. Then they swindle the taxpayer for millions and lie to everyone.


The business of pain is really what these wild horse and burro wranglers are in. Crime really does pay and so does animal abuse if you want a long career with the BLM (or USFWS, USFS & NPS). It used to be people who abused animals or lacked compassion were only able to get jobs at animal control or in so called biomedical research labs. Animal abuse no longer needs to hide in the dark abusers can now come out in the open and make a career of it with government as their employer.

The companies the BLM employ to wrangle the horses and burros appear to use some of the most violent and dangerous men ever caught on film. Their abusive unprovoked behavior toward these wild animals who just want to live is itself a crime. This is why I call them the madmen of the prairie because only someone who is ‘mad’, as they used to describe someone with psychotic mental illness, could act this way. A good test of someone’s humanity is to see if they can stomach seeing the photos and videos and not wish the same treatment to be handed out to these madmen wranglers.

Over the years the documented abuse of wild horses and burros has ranged from whipping, hotshots, punching, kicking, run to exhaustion, run into barbed wire and dragging while roped to being sterilized without any anesthesia or pain meds to being shot either at point blank range or from a helicopter. These are just what has been witnessed. What happens in the private corrals no one has come forward or what suffering they endure at the slaughterhouse, despite that being illegal in the US. We know that slaughterhouses in Mexico are particularly inhumane where horses are subjected to multiple stabbings until they bleed out.

How American wild horses with legal protection end up in Mexican slaughterhouses then shipped to Europe and Asia is another story. For years these horses have been taken off the range in phony ‘emergency’ roundups then driven to friendly Indian reservations. They are then driven across the border into Mexico. U.S. law doesn’t apply on tribal land, which act as their own nation within the U.S. governed by their own laws. This makes for a convenient route for wranglers like the Cattoor family to use and profit by.

Dave Cattoor have a long sordid history of brushes with the law and animal cruelty. After decades of openly abusing animals, lying to the public, being found guilty of shooting wild horses from a helicopter and conspiring to illegally sell protected horses for slaughter the Cattoors are the poster child for everything that is wrong with the roundup program. There are other helicopter wrangler companies currently hired by the BLM aside from Cattoor Livestock (earnings nearly $20 million to date) there are Sun J ($7.7 million to date) and Sampson Livestock ($ 1.6 million to date). These companies operate without any oversight and can seemingly declare open season on our horses and burros without impunity. The same can be said for the BLM and all the other agencies that operate under the Dept of Interior. No one is minding the store and the thieves are in charge.

The Cattoor family has made $20,000,000 just from government contracts to round up our wild horses and burros. How much is made from selling them for illegal slaughter is anyone’s guess. This lovely family is aligned with Protect The Harvest, a group formed by oil tycoon Forrest Lucas, that advocates for the worst forms of institutionalized animal abuse - horse slaughter, horse soring, horse tripping, trophy hunting, factory farming, and animal fighting. With this on one’s resume it’s no wonder the violent abuse occurs on a daily basis. This is the main reason the BLM staff shun the public as much as possible during these roundups. They don’t want any more documented abuse and lies to reach the public when it comes to their treatment of the horses and burros. The BLM pr machine is openly hostile to questions and facts has shown no patience for challenges to their pro livestock agenda.

Having been found guilty on two counts of a federal indictment need not sway the BLM to fire you. In fact that seemed to be a bonus according to this statement

“JoLynn Worley, a spokeswoman for the bureau’s Reno office, said the contractor who conducted the roundup, Dave Cattoor of Nephi, Utah, was used by the agencies even though he pleaded guilty and was sentenced for hunting “While convicted, that does not preclude the fact he does excellent work for us”, Worley said.

Las Vegas Review Journal Keith Rogers, 12/28/93

The amazing fine of $500.00 and an assessment fee of $10.00…’s clear from the lack of jail time or substantial fine no one in law enforcement takes his crimes seriously. Imagine if these federal crimes were done by you or I? Would we be handed such a light touch of ‘justice’ or tried like hardened criminals? What message does the government send when they openly ignore or condone violence toward animals with legal protection? When they hire people with obvious mental disease?

The BLM explained that Dave Cattoor has “paid his dues” and Dave himself has tried to justify his conviction of mustang hunting, conspiracy, aiding and abetting. He’s been open with his opinions regarding the need to kill unwanted wild horses going so far as to say “there is no such thing as a wild horse they live in a fenced in controlled system where they have to be managed, without management you have death.” This was from a New York Times video story from 2010. You can hear his say it here

Great Divide Basin roundup Oct 2021 (Photo Carol Walker)

Witnesses to the roundups and ensuing abuse, especially those photographing and taping it, have been yelled at, cursed at, threatened, lied to, denied access to public corrals even run off the road. If all this sounds like a movie sadly this is how the BLM and most government agencies deal with the public. The surreal combative relationship between the employees paid by taxpayers and the taxpayers who want answers has deteriorated to where we now act no different than the third world countries we poke fun of. In many instances the United States has become a banana republic. Does anyone think these men or women go home to be loving healthy parents and partners? This type of daily violence and the acceptance of it is carried through their daily lives off the range. The notion that this is isolated to the horses and burros is dispelled through decades of studies done on violent criminals. This abuse is finally recognized as an important indicator of violence toward humans as well.

Abuse for the sake of inflicting pain is what sociopaths do (Photo credit Carol Walker 2005) What goes through the mind of someone like this

Fifty years of hell for the wild horses and burros all for livestock which shouldn’t be on public lands and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions every year. This is what has been kept from the public and when it does get out the pr machine rushes into action with the usual excuse that it’s a rare occurrence (it’s not) those responsible were reprimanded (never are) the pictures don’t show the whole story (yes they do quite accurately)

As the saying goes some things never change. One has to wonder how this abuse has gone on for so many decades when we all know what we’re seeing and its repercussions as it permeates throughout society. Hotshots to horses just rounded up last day @ Surprise Complex 2021 (photo Wild Horse education)

Below is a quote from the explosive 2014 documentary ‘Exposed: USDA’s secret War on Wildlife’ Rex Shaddox former USDA Wildlife Service’s trapper. In case you thought only the BLM was exterminating America’s wildlife, including endangered species and even pets, it’s also their agency’s cousin doing the same to the tune an estimated 4,000,000 animals a year. This is almost ALL done for livestock.

Government contract for $ 9.4 million for a failed program this is just for one of several companies each year

The depraved indifference and inhumanity of those the government hires and pays with your tax dollars is well documented. Any government employee that knowingly hires animal abusers or lets the abuse continue should be fired. Any government agency or department that hires animal abusers, people with a history of violence or convicted felons should be investigated with charges brought and possibly dismantled. By hiring and allowing this abuse all parties involved are culpable and should be sued, fired and made to pay restitution to taxpayers. These violent people are a threat to all society. When the government (BLM, DOI, USDA, FS, NPS) covers it up they are aiding and abetting current and possibly future violent crimes against both humans and non humans. It’s time they were held accountable.

The above photo is Cameron Warner and Shayne Sampson, Cattoor Livestock, congratulating each other after separating a foal from a heard that was trapped August 11, 2010 Lassen County, California .Photo Hector Amerzcua/Sacramento Bee. What are the odds these people lead decent humane lives?

During the 2021 removal in the Antelope Complex horses had been knocked down by the helicopter, a foal trampled, and a horse chased into barbwire - all documented by Wild Horse Education. This short video captures the violent sociopathy and fear the wild horses and burros endure on a daily basis from these wranglers. You know these men are just as much a threat to humans as they are to animals. The human mind cannot does not differentiate between inflicting pain when the psychosis is on this level. The battle of the BLM burro video 2010 Sun J company and this company still works for the BLM today.

The psychology of violent behavior towards animals has shown time and again it’s an indicator for violence towards humans especially children. As stated in this study by Henry R. Hermann Ph.D., in Dominance and Aggression in Humans and Other Animals, 2017‘ acts of cruelty to animals are symptomatic of a deep mental disturbance. Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty to animals do not stop there—many of them move on to their fellow humans. Murderers often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids.’ As reported in 2016 in Psychology Today many serial killers, those that were caught all started out abusing a wide variety of animals. Infamous murderers like Jeffrey Dahmer and child killer Mary Bell to Ian Brady and Ted Bundy who was both a serial killer and rapist all abused animals.

Anyone who has ever witnessed the abuse of the horses and burros on the range and in the corrals at the hands of the wranglers hired by the BLM or BLM staff and even outsiders hired know this is a crime they’re witnessing. Violence is never isolated there is always more and almost always escalates.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations agrees it's a serious crime on its own merit. In 2021 they published this article on the website stating ' animal cruelty is a better predicter of sexual abuse compared to a history of homicide, arson or weapon convictions. Being cognizant of this link allows for law enforcement to recognize that animal cruelty indicates other possible offenses are occurring in the household.' For the full article please click here

The National Sheriffs Association has a project specifically designed to address the growing problem of animal cruelty as a crime itself and as an important indicator of other violent crimes, The Association’s John Thompson urged people to shed the mindset that animal cruelty is a crime only against animals. “It’s a crime against society,” he said, urging all law enforcement agencies to participate in NIBRS. “By paying attention to [these crimes], we are benefiting all of society.” To read about that project click here

Is it really all about the money? It seems as if the money at least for some is icing on the cake but not the cake itself. Most of these men really do seem to enjoy inflicting pain and suffering so why do we accept this? We pay their salary why has nothing ever been done about the blatant well documented systemic crimes we have all witnessed? Perhaps it’s not just law enforcement and the courts who have failed but we too for not being more proactive and demanding action. These animals can’t speak for themselves it’s up to us to take action more than just making a comment on a social media post.


For anyone who sees any abuse first document it showing the person’s face, clothing, vehicle, license plate anything you can identify then call local law enforcement immediately and be detailed in your report. Think how you would want a witness to help catch your abuser and do the same for these animals. The abuse continues because so few bother to report or even document it. Nothing will stop until it is made to stop.

For more information about our wild horses and burros :

Cheryl Turner, A*W*E Representative Donna Brorein, Advocacy News, American Equine Awareness +1 714-457-2958

*Fake and ineffective so called horse advocacy groups who have greatly damaged wild horse and burro chances by supporting the ranching and oil & gas plan ‘The path forward’ and fertility scam which is really a ruse for sterilization. These groups to avoid are :

The Humane Society long history of fraud, lies and sex offenders

ASPCA mostly take sides with corporate interests

Return to freedom rumored to be founded by former BLM contractor supports many bad policies Nada Demayo

American Wild Horse Campaign who’s board member Eleanor Phipps Price belongs to a fox/coyote hunting club that uses hounds

The American Mustang Foundation front for ranching and oil & gas interests

Protect the Harvest front for oil & gas

For the truth about USDA war on wildlife via Wildlife Services aka Animal Damage Control click here for the documentary

If you would like to register a complaint about wasteful taxpayer money spent of violent abusive fraud contact your reps at &

Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland: | 202-208-3100

BLM Director, Tracy Stone-Manning 202-208-3801

Remember our wild horses & burros only have YOU as their voice

Also published on Straight from the horse's heart October 17, 2022


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