Ac­tivist: Cut sends horses to slaugh­ter­house

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

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.

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