Animal advocates are applauding Congress for protecting wild horses and burros from roundups and slaughter with the 2018 spending bill, marking a major victory in the ongoing battle to protect them on public lands.
Despite protection under the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, which was enacted in 1971 to protect wild horses from “capture, branding, harassment, or death,” the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has continued to remove and warehouse thousands upon thousands of wild horses at the expense of taxpayers – a vast majority of who strongly oppose the agency’s incredibly cruel, wasteful and ongoing mismanagement of these American icons.
While their advocates have continued to push for measures that would protect them on public lands, the agency has become increasingly beholden to special interests that want to see them gone.
Last year, the House Appropriations Committee passed the spending bill with the Stewart Amendment as part of the 2018 budget, which would have allowed the BLM to kill 92,000 healthy wild horses who are currently in holding, in addition to those who are deemed excess on the range.
The backlash to the move was swift. Hundreds of thousands of people called their representatives, wrote letters and signed petitions in opposition, while more than 163,000 people signed a Care2 petition alone calling on Congress to protect wild horses and burros from roundups and slaughter.
Now, everyone who spoke out on this issue can celebrate a win with news that Congress has maintained prohibitions on destroying or slaughtering healthy wild horses and burros.
“The power of the people has prevailed,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of AWHC. “We’re pleased that Congress has chosen to stand with the 80 percent of Americans who want America’s horses to be protected, not brutally slaughtered. We especially want to thank Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Tom Udall for including wild horse protections in the Senate bill and insisting that they be contained in the final bill.”
The latest budget as passed by the House also prohibits government funding for horse slaughter inspections, which will effectively keep horse slaughter operations from resuming on U.S. soil.
“For the love of America’s heritage, for the respect of wild horses and burros, we are thrilled that Congress has rejected this sick horse slaughter plans,” said Marilyn Kroplick M.D., President of In Defense of Animals. “Congress has sent an important message that it will not have the blood of sentient beings on its hands. This is a victory for animal advocates and the majority of Americans who want solutions, not slaughter.”
While this is a major victory, the bill expires in September and the 2019 budget request is again calling for the bans on the killing and slaughter of mustangs and burros to be lifted. Wild the battle continues, wild horse advocates will be working to oppose any measures that would allow slaughter, and will continue to support measures that involve humanely managing them on the range.
“America’s mustangs are icons of the West and the American people want to keep our wild horses wild on the Western range,” Roy added. “We call on the Trump Administration to work with the non-profit sector to implement humane, scientific and publicly acceptable management solutions to protect these cherished animals on our Western public lands for future generations to enjoy.”