Jill Starr, president of Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, says the Bureau of Land Management sent 172 Nevada wild horses to an auction attended by "slaughter buyers" on July 10, The Reno Gazette-Journal reported Sunday.
The BLM rounded up the horses in the Pilot Creek Valley area near Wendover and auctioned them off in Fallon, the report said. Federally protected horses cannot legally be sold for slaughter, but the agency says those auctioned were abandoned domestic horses or their offspring, not protected mustangs.
Such "estray" or "feral" horses are not covered by the 1971 law that protects established herds of free-roaming mustangs. Wild horses are not permitted to be sold for food, but estrays can be sold for eventual slaughter in Mexico or Canada.
"I'm disgusted the BLM did what it did with these horses," Starr told the Gazette-Journal. She bought 169 of the horses at the auction. Six have been adopted and the remainder will be offered for adoption or released in a sanctuary, she said.