Bill Introduced to Restore Prohibition of Wild Horses to Slaughter

Congressman Nick Rahall of West Virginia introduced a bill (H.R. 297) to the House of Representatives on Jan. 25 that would restore the prohibition on the commercial sale and slaughter of wild horses and burros.

In a speech to the 109th Congress, Rahall said, "My legislation is necessary because of 36 lines that were hidden away in the recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act that overturned more than 30 years of national policy on the protection and management of wild free-roaming horses and burros. This backdoor legislative maneuver, enacted without public notice, will make these animals available to the highest bidder for processing into commercial products."

Rahall went on to say that there are other alternatives for controlling wild horse and burro populations, such as adoption, sterilization, relocation, and placement with qualified individuals and organizations. "To suggest that an acceptable solution to a federal agency’s (the Bureau of Land Management, or the controlling agency for the care of the wild horses and burros) management shortcomings is commercial slaughter is an irresponsible approach to our public lands and the wildlife that roam them."

Rahall introduced H.R. 297 after Senator Conrad Burns of Montana added a line to the federal appropriations bill (H.R. 4818) that repealed the third section of The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971, in which wild horses and burros over the age of 10 years or those that have not been successfully adopted after three adoption attempts could be sold at public auction to the highest bidder, even if the individual purchasing the horses would take them to slaughter.

The co-sponsor on H.R. 297 is Congressman Ed Whitfield of Kentucky. The bill has since been referred to the Committee on Resources for further deliberation.

About the Author

Marcella M. Reca Zipp, MS

Marcella Reca Zipp, M.S., is a former staff writer for The Horse. She is completing her doctorate in Environmental Education and researching adolescent relationships with horses and nature. She lives with her family, senior horse, and flock of chickens on an island in the Chain O'Lakes.

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