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Wild horses photographed at the Sulphur Herd Management Area in Utah before last winter’s Bureau of Land Management helicopter roundup there. Photo by Steve Paige.

July 20, 2017 – Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation on Thursday commended the Senate Appropriations Committee for approving, on a voice vote, an amendment keeping alive the effort to prevent the cruel and costly industry of horse slaughter from returning to the United States.

“With today’s bipartisan vote against horse slaughter, the Senate Appropriations Committee showed it had listened to the facts and heard the loud the voices of the American public, which polls have shown overwhelmingly oppose the return of a cruel and costly industry,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom.

Specifically, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved language barring the U.S. Department of Agriculture from hiring horsemeat inspectors. Since 2005, animal welfare advocates have made an annual push for a so-called “defund amendment” to agriculture appropriations bills in the absence of a permanent federal ban.

The safety of horses, both wild and domestic, remains far from assured, however.

Provisions in the Trump administration’s budget would allow the BLM to kill captured wild horses or sell them without restriction – a change that would enable kill buyers to purchase wild horses on the cheap and haul them to Canada or Mexico for slaughter.

On July 13, the House Appropriation Committee voted 27-25 to reject a similar horse slaughter defund amendment. Six days later, the House committee passed, on a voice vote, an amendment to the interior appropriations bill that would allow the Bureau of Land Management to kill healthy unadopted wild horses and burros held in government corrals or on off-range pastures, but left in place limited sale restrictions.

The House votes came despite what polls have shown is overwhelming public opposition to horse slaughter and strong support for wild horses. The last slaughter plant in the country closed in 2007.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to take up the Interior appropriations bill – including the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program – in the next two weeks.

“If the committee again examines the facts, it will similarly reject, in the days ahead, myths propagated about wild horses by moneyed interests that wish to see them killed or sold to those who would profit from slaughter in foreign countries,” DeMayo said. “Instead, the committee should press the Bureau of Land Management to utilize long-available, humane solutions for managing wild horses, these living symbols of freedom, on our shared public lands.”

Wild horse advocates are battling a misinformation campaign from the BLM and others who wish to see them gone from the range. Opponents of free-roaming wild horses and burros on public lands have painted a false picture for Congress of starving horses on a range damaged solely by wild horses with no mention of the number of cattle on public lands dwarfing that of wild horses.

Critics also continue to contend – falsely – that the use of fertility control vaccines have failed, despite BLM having never spent more than 3.88% of the wild horse program’s budget on fertility control.

In fact, a 2013 National Academy of Sciences report identified fertility control as an effective tool for managing the wild horse population while blaming BLM’s system of capture and removal for promoting population growth. An economic model published that same year in the peer-reviewed Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine found that the BLM could attain its management goals within 12 years by using fertility control.

In 2007, BLM was very close to achieving their desired population target and still did not implement an effective fertility control program that has proven 91-98% successful in various other programs. In 2016, for example, BLM spent just $340,000 on fertility control compared to $52.49 million on capturing and warehousing horses off the range.

Return to Freedom and other advocates have long called for redirecting money spent on capturing and holding wild horses toward available solutions. These include not only using safe, proven fertility control but revisiting population targets, based on a fair interpretation of multiple-use land management; providing incentives for ranchers who reduce livestock grazing in wild horse Herd Management Areas; increasing range stewardship, including much-needed water source restoration; and relocating horses, if truly necessary.

Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation is a national nonprofit dedicated to preserving the freedom, diversity, and habitat of America’s wild horses and burros through sanctuary, education, advocacy and conservation, while enriching the human spirit through direct experience with the natural world.

3 replies on “Senate Committee Rejects Horse Slaughter, Sets Up Key Vote on Wild Horses”

  1. The BLMS antiquated system of 3 attempts to adopt and then lifetime in holding doesn’t work. Times have changed. Consumers who want to adopt horses for their lifestyle are online looking everywhere 365 days a year however the adopters on the BLM site only view 3 times in 1 horses lifetime and narrows the window to nothing. So in 2006 a horse was listed 3 times in a few months and has resided in holding termed unadoptable or unwanted merely because from 2007 to 2017 they never are publicly posted for adopters and are inedible for viewing. That’s the most ludicrous adoptive program ever. Adoptable animals are posted until adopted and then it’s 365 days a year online and sponsored by other sites. These horses never get fair adoption standards and are incarcerated not available for over a decade or longer for some. The starving wild horses were located on Ranchers land because the ranchers that adopted them were not properly fulfilling feeding requirements. The Bureau is so outdated on how to care for horses they are constantly overbudget instead of investigating how to actually be more cost effective they choose killing them. So now its more of a threat if they cannot slaughter which is Never human e then they will si.ply shoot them. Senators, Representatives, Legislators, respectfully please admit the Bureau has failed but killing is not the Option in fact starting a current program using outside Adoptive experts to place horses in homes and put up a 365 day a year adoption page and yes they will be cataloguing and picturing thousands of horses, but they created a solvable problem. Outside personnel with Advocates and Rescues that are Federally vetted should be able to assist in finding legit homes and increase adoptions. We have solutions let use them.

  2. Not inedible for viewing but Ineligible. Support the Safeguard America’s Food and Export Act and Stop horse slaughter.

  3. Does the Senate and House want the solution to the Slaughter/Euthanize issue? I suggest revising the June 10, 2014, ESA Petition to list Wild horse HERDS as distinct population segments of a special status Species. In 2016 Ca reviewed my submission for listing. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife Karen Miner Environmental Program Manager (Karen.Miner@wildlife.ca.gov) responded “ When and if available scientific information convinces the experts that determine the checklist of native species to North America that Equus caballus should be considered as an indigenous species, they will make the change in the next revision to the list, and then we would take that fact into consideration for inclusion on our state animal lists.
    The process for rewilding wildlife horse and burro herds is through Resource Management Plan AMENDMENTS.
    (Mountain States v. Hodel) The court found “ In structure and purpose, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act is nothing more than a land-use regulation enacted by Congress to ensure the survival of a particular species of wildlife noting that wild horses and burros are no less “wild” animals than are the grizzly bears that roam our national parks and forests.

    The first case to challenge the 1971 FREE ROAMING Wild Horse and Burro Act was in the 1976 case of New Mexico v Kleepe. Justice Thurgood Marshall, representing the court’s unanimous opinion, found the Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act to be Constitutional, and that the Property Clause gave Congress the power to protect wildlife (horses and burros) on the public lands, state law notwithstanding.
    Subsequently in 2009 United States District Judge Judge Rosemary M Collyer, stated “ It would be anomalous to infer that by authorizing the custodian of the wild free-roaming horses and burros to “manage” them, Congress intended to permit the animals’ custodian to subvert the primary policy of the statute by capturing and removing from the wild the very animals that Congress sought to protect from being captured and removed from the wild.”
    CA has 45, 864,800 acres of federal lands and 100,206,720 acres of State Lands. The US federal government owns 640 million acres of land and about 28% of the nation’s total surface, 2.27 billion acres. Wild horse/burro populations constitute less than one percent of wildlife and livestock grazing on the public domain.
    The available habitat may not be competing with Mining and Ranching.
    The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976(FLPMA) provided for additional habitat as ACECs, which facilitates the need of special management attention. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Area_of_Critical_Environmental_Concern. Over 800,000 acres in southern CA are bighorn sheep ACECs for distinct population segments….and that species originated in RUSSIA.

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