Activist: Cut sends horses to slaughterhouse
Activists are warning the country to brace for mass horse slaughterings after President Trump’s new budget called for axing $10 million from the government’s wild horse management program.
The Interior Department’s proposal to cut costs by allowing unrestricted sales of excess wild horses on federal lands could ultimately send thousands of them to slaughter, said Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign.
“It could totally be a backdoor to killing thousands of horses, and they want to be able to do that,” Ms. Roy said.
“It would be nice if President Trump could step in here, because it’s hard to imagine that someone who wants to make America great would support destroying the symbols of American freedom and greatness,” she said.
Some 73,000 wild horses and burros were roaming the public lands as of March. That’s three times the healthy level, the Trump administration said, calling the situation “wholly unsustainable.”
It said unrestricted sales of the horses would save the government $4 million, and the rest of the savings would come from reducing birth control treatments and other measures.
Proponents of the change said it’s a step in the right direction in reversing policies detrimental to the health and well-being of the horses.
“We’re absolutely supportive of their request to lift that ban, because it’s a poorly thought out piece of language that is really directly responsible for the crisis we have now,” said Ethan Lane, executive director of the Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Federal Lands.
The battle over the wild horses has been raging for years, with Ms. Roy’s group going to court to try to block horse roundups, arguing they’re inhumane and not needed.
Congress has also been dragged into the fight. In the 2017 spending bill passed in May, lawmakers allowed the Interior Department to transfer excess horses to state or local governments to be used as “work animals,” but specifically barred the horses from being put on a path to slaughter for commercial purposes.
The broader debate over horse slaughter dates back more than a decade, to when Congress, at the behest of horse enthusiasts, imposed a backdoor ban on slaughter of horse meat.
Horse meat isn’t sold for human consumption in the U.S., but it is sent to Eastern Hemisphere countries where it’s an accepted food.