Budget vote threatens wild horse, burro herds
A House Appropriations Committee vote to reverse a ban on destroying healthy wild horses and burros amounts to a death warrant for the animals, an advocate for the animals said.
The committee on Tuesday removed language from the Interior Department’s budget that prohibited the destruction of healthy, unadopted wild horses and burros in the care of the Bureau of Land Management or its contractors, so long as the animals aren’t used for commercial purposes, including human consumption.
“It’s being spun as ‘euthanasia’ but it’s really license to kill tens of thousands of healthy wild horses and burros,” said Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Campaign in a news release.
The BLM, which oversees the National Wild Horse and Burro Program, wanted the ban lifted to control populations of the horses. “This request comes out of the desire to do well by the horses,” BLMS spokesman Jason Lutterman said.
The population of wild horses and burros continue to outstrip the resources available for them, he said.
Last week, the appropriations committee voted to overturn a ban that blocked the Agriculture Department from providing inspectors at meat plants that slaughter horses.
In 2007 the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled it is illegal for horse slaughterhouses to pay the U.S. Department of Agriculture to perform health inspections, which ended the plants in the U.S. The lack of funding for federal horse meat inspections has kept horse slaughter operations from reopening.
Roy said the two changes will result in selling wild horses and burros for slaughter and reopening American slaughterhouses for horses.
Senators Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., are expected to introduce an amendment to restore the ban on funding for USDA inspections of horse slaughter plants, Roy said.