Interior Secretary threatens to "punch out" Colorado Springs reporter

cloud-logoCloud Foundation Director snubbed by Salazar

Colorado Springs, Colo. (November 12, 2012) – On Election Day, at an enthusiastic gathering of Obama supporters in Fountain, Colorado; Dave Philipps, a reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette, had just finished an interview with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar about his controversial policies for managing America’s wild horse populations. Just after Secretary Salazar answered final questions about the future safety of wild horses and he turned to leave the interview, he unexpectedly approached Phillips and told him, “If you set me up like this again, I’ll punch you out.”  Standing nearby was Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation, a Colorado-based wild horse advocacy organization. “I was stunned by the Secretary’s rude and clearly hostile comment toward Dave,” said Kathrens. 

Kathrens, who had had been granted permission by an Interior law enforcement official to take pictures at the rally added, “ Salazar walked past me, refused to shake my hand, and told me, ‘You know, you should never do that.” It was unclear to Kathrens what he meant. “These threats would have been inappropriate coming from anyone, but the fact that it came out of the mouth of the Secretary of the Interior is alarming,” stated Kathrens. “I can’t believe that a top official in Obama’s cabinet could be so defensive.” 

Philipps’ interview with Salazar was a follow-up to a story he had written in September about the sale of wild horses to Tom Davis, a Colorado killer buyer who purchased over 1,700 wild horses from government holding facilities. The horses ended up in south Texas and it is believed they were trucked over the border to Mexican slaughterhouses. Secretary Salazar acknowledged that an investigation of Davis’ activities is currently underway.  

Salazar’s anti-wild horse stance came to light in 2004 during his successful run for the U.S. Senate. After a town hall meeting in Greeley, Colorado, wild horse advocate Barbara Flores asked him what he thought about our wild horses. Candidate Salazar responded, “They don’t belong on public lands.” Salazar vacated his Senate seat in 2008 to take his current position as Secretary of the Interior.

The BLM removes far more horses from their legally designated home ranges than can be adopted out to the public. The massive roundups have resulted in the stockpiling of animals in government facilities and privately contracted ranches. Nearly twice as many wild horses are housed in these costly holding operations than currently roam free, leaving most wild herds under populated and vulnerable to inbreeding and die-off due to a lack of genetic diversity.

“You know, this isn’t just about wild horses,” explains Kathrens. “America needs leaders in Washington, and the President needs cabinet members who respect citizens, respect the laws, value discussion and working toward mutual solutions. Ken Salazar displayed none of this on Tuesday.”

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Media Contact: 

Lauryn Wachs

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Links of Interest:

Wild horse buyer under investigation for breaking state law

BLM's wild horse management at a crossroad

BLM Advisory Board recommends sterilization of wild horse mares

Media & Interviews available upon request

The Cloud Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to the preservation and protection of wild horses and burros on our Western public lands with a focus on protecting Cloud's herd in the Pryor Mountains of Montana.