ProPublica published an investigation in Sunday's Denver Post showing livestock hauler Tom Davis, long a horse-slaughter advocate, had purchased up to 1,700 mustangs since 2009. Davis owns a slaughterhouse and the report said he has maneuvered around state law to take the animals out of Colorado. He denied violating the terms of a no-slaughter contract with the federal Bureau of Land Management, which would be a felony, the newspaper reported.
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, an umbrella group encompassing more than 60 wildlife advocacy agencies, called on the BLM to cease the controversial horse roundups until it can guarantee none of the animals are going to slaughter.
A 1971 federal law declared the horses "living symbols" of American history and a 2004 addendum made it illegal to kill the animals.
Officials at the BLM said the horse roundups are necessary to protect the herd from overpopulation. Wild horses and burros lack natural predators and wildlife officials say the only way to keep their numbers in check is to round up the animals annually and sell them for $10 a head.
Officials expect to collect 3,500 horses in six states, though Colorado is not scheduled to be a part of the 2012 roundup, the newspaper reported.