BLM Sales and Adoption Event - Annville, PA

By Michele Patterson, Grassroots Advocacy and Outreach Manager

(June 10, 2022)

It was a beautiful day in Annville, Pennsylvania. The temperature was in the mid-70s. I was attending my first Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sale & adoption event at Shale Knoll Arena. I was dreading it. Seeing these beautiful horses and burros, previously wild, in pens with unknown fates was simply unnerving. But I am part of a team who has boots on the ground to document what is happening to these animals, and I am happy to do my part so the American Wild Horse Campaign staff and volunteers can continue to make a difference.

michele patterson

I was greeted promptly by a member of the BLM staff who was very knowledgeable. He stated he had been with the agency for 2 years. 

There were 73 total animals up for adoption:

  • Pen 1 - 7 burros, jennies and geldings 
  • Pen 2 - 10 mares
  • Pen 3 - 8 geldings and 3 mares (all yearlings)
  • Pen 4 - 8 geldings
  • Pen 5 - 11 geldings
  • Pen 6 - 7 mares
  • Pen 7 - 8 mares
  • Pen 8 - 11 geldings

The burros were from Arizona and California, all of whom were incredibly friendly and walked right up to me. The mustangs at the event were from Utah and Nevada—fortunately, the body condition of all the horses looked good. I kept thinking about how these poor creatures were rounded-up only to be transported all the way across the country. 

As I walked around each pen, I photographed and videoed them. I noticed that they all stayed close together, trying to feel safe. After all, they have been removed from their homes and transported thousands of miles to a strange and foreign place. 

As awful as I thought this was going to be, I was happy to see that the BLM staff had great horse handling skills and each interaction with the horses was without incident. In accordance with Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program adoption standards, each pen had water and hay. 

I hope they found safe adoptive homes, but at the same time, I am saddened that these horses and burros lost their freedom and families in the first instance. 

I’m reminded about two federal bills that have been introduced in the U.S. Congress that could go a long way to help protect our cherished wild horses and burros. One is the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act, introduced this year by U.S. Representative Dina Titus of Nevada. This bill would end the use of helicopters to round up wild horses and burros. As part of nearly every roundup, these animals die from broken necks and legs, while some die after the roundup due to the trauma of being chased and pushed to extreme exhaustion. I wonder how many of these horses' and burros' family members didn't make it here because they died during the roundup. You can ask your U.S. Representative to cosponsor this bill by taking action here.

The other is a new bill called the Ejiao Act. This bill would ban the knowing sale or transportation of ejiao (uh-gee-yow), a gelatin that is made from boiling the skins of donkeys, or products containing ejiao, in interstate or foreign commerce. Each year, millions of donkeys are brutally slaughtered for the production of ejiao. Seeing the friendliness of the burros at this adoption event, I couldn’t help but think of what a betrayal it is to slaughter these animals. You can ask your U.S. Representative to cosponsor this bill by taking action here.