Bud­get vote threat­ens wild horse, burro herds

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Tom McGhee The As­so­ci­ated Press con­trib­uted to this re­port

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.

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