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BLM wild horse sale authority gone bad : Maduna sentenced to 5-10 years


Starving wild horses rescued from the Three-Strikes Ranch     photo/Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue

It all started in 2002 when Jason Maduna and his wife Alissa say they decided to help with the plight of the mustangs.  It ended yesterday with a 5-10 year jail sentence for Jason Maduna, who was found guilty of 145 counts of felony animal cruelty.

The Madunas adopted or purchased wild horses from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  Their Three-Strikes Ranch, located in a sleepy Nebraska town called Alliance, was truly the last strike for more than 75 wild horses and burros whose carcasses were found strewn over the landscape. Authorities seized 211 horses in April of 2009.  Most were starving.

Jill Starr, President of Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue in Lancaster, California, was called to assist in the rescue and placement of the horses that remained. "I had no idea I would find myself submerged in a sea of barely breathing horses" she writes.  Starr describes the experience as "... one of the most disturbing and emotionally taxing horse rescue operations I have been involved with."

It is said that Maduna adopted or purchased as many as 250 horses from the BLM.  Cindy Wertz, BLM Spokesperson from the Cheyenne, Wyoming District Office, stated in today's telephone interview, "He [Jason Maduna] adopted several BLM horses.  The horses that he , actually it was officially his wife that officially adopted the horse, two of them we couldn't  track down.  One horse we did track down and we removed that one horse that was officially adopted.  The other horses were bought through a sale program.  Once they're sold, BLM no longer has jurisdiction over the horses.  They're private property." 

The sale authority clause, added to the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act in 2005 by the highly controversial BurnsAmendmentt, allow the outright sale of horses or burros passed over for adoption three times.   Wild horse advocates have since feared for the welfare of animals sold under these terms. Jason Maduna and his Three-Strikes Ranch serve both as a reminder of and justification for those fears. Anissa Maduna testified at trial that the BLM routinely contacted them to accept more horses.

"They're just dumping these horses." said Starr.  She cites no restrictions or accountability among many issues with the sale authority. " The BLM shouldn't have any business giving horses to people that don't have a proven track record of being able to provide lifetime sanctuary for wild horses." she continued.

Starr knows a bit about providing sanctuary.  Her  Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, a non profit organization, has been highly respected since its formation in 1997.  Twenty-four Three-Strikes Ranch wild horses are among about 300 currently in sanctuary at their facility.

In response to Madunas sentence, Starr commented, " He's terribly under-sentenced.  5-10 years for taking as many as 100 lives - even though there were 74 carcasses found, there were more that couldn't be identified as whole carcasses.  There were bits and pieces of horses that Humpty Dumpty's army couldn't put them back together."  Indeed, the Lifesavers web site describes the scene as, "Dead bodies on top of each other as if they might never be found and no one would know the difference."

The Three-Strikes Ranch was sold to a couple from Oklahoma.  Alissa Maduna was cited by the BLM for treating wild horses inhumanely and fined $325.  Jason Maduna will not be allowed to own, possesss or reside with animals for 30 years.  Although he was sentenced to 5-10 years, Nebraska law requires mandatory release after 5 years.  He will be eligible for parole in 20 months.

The BLM continues to sell wild horses outright after three unsuccessfull adoption opportunities.  The authority to do so will remain until Congress changes the law.

For more info:

Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue: read the whole story


  • Cathy Flynn 5 years ago

    It is about time this realization of cruelty and the many others, the video of the helicopter almost touching the colt in dire need of rest to get him to speed up, the foals losing their hooves, the mares aborting, the many dying from the round ups and the stallion breaking his neck reacting to the sound of the helicopter, the many dying not able to adjust to the change in diet and all of them torn from their normal way of life, the life given them by the essence of who they are. The life given them that they are truly meant to live according to THE ONE who put them here~~is written into A NEW LAW, one that reflects the law Wild Horse Annie enabled, A Law That protects against the audacity of human to place himself/herself above God, Creator, THE ONE'S intention for the life placed on this planet and that life's purpose within the scheme of the ecosystem and the life's effect on human beings~~It is time in our humility we realized No government, no individual is ever above that law~~

  • annette lennon 5 years ago

    I wish Wild Horse Annie was alive today, we need someone that can make Salizar wake up and see what he has done. I live to see the day that no individual is above the law. Or to run amuck with the law.

  • Ray Field, Wild Horse Foundation 5 years ago

    The sentence was 60 months not 5-10 years and he's up for parole in 20 months. 5 minutes before Meduna was sentenced a man drove his car and killed a family and was sentence to probation and no prison time. Since when does a human life rank lower than animals? Same judge and same prosecutor. No MADD, SADD or DADD groups to punish this murdered. Meduna was told by BLM to kill these and he didn't listen. BLM even on stand stated he,. BLM employee knew nothing about wild horse. So while Meduna tried to capitalize on the mere fact that BLM pays non-profits groups to take in the 2005 law wild horses, he simply under managed himself and did not know that the BLM was sending him sick wild horses on top. If the BLM send the same sick wild horses to one of there contract facilities and they start to die then they are legally responsible and can go to jail also. Since when did "hoarding" animals become legal on a federal level? Visit for more information.

  • cnclmark 5 years ago

    Thanks Ray Field for correcting the misstatements. I sat through the entire trial and heard all the testimony. It's too bad the people responsible for the poisoning of these animals were not recognized. Unsolicited comments made by the elected Sheriff and Prosecutor to me following Thursdays proceedings in the presence of the Judge were totally frightening. I told my wife on the phone that night of the comments and she begged me to leave and fly home right now. This place is somewhere between the Twilight Zone, One Step Beyond, and Chiller.

  • Ray Field, Wild Horse Foundation 5 years ago

    So you think your having a bad day when your wild horses become sick. You
    call the BLM and ask them for help or reasons why your horses are sick. They tell you. It’s normally shipping fever, cause by travel in different weather climates or that they don't know or have any idea or what you’re talking about. Go see your local vet who tells you they don't treat wild horses or see them because they can't be handled. Sound familiar? Spread the word.

    Could you be found guilt of animal abuse or neglect at the governments fault? Try 145 counts and then ask yourself do you feel lucky. Well do you ya?
    ---See this examiner story 4-1-10,

    Now the diseased horses comes out and the truth will prevail. Did the BLM send sick horses, Meduna paid the price for the BLM screw ups so who's next?

  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    Ray and Mark, you guys are so full of it, I can't believe it. Ray Field is twisting the story of the auto accident - and Mark knows that. And the horses were not poisoned - you still don't have the guts to confront the neighbors face-to-face.

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