Wild Horse Amendment Passes House

Wild horses and burros that are eligible for slaughter had a victory on May 19 when the appropriations bill for the Department of the Interior 2006 budget (H.R. 2361) passed the House of Representatives.

Among hundreds of lines of text outlining the 2006 budget for the department, including funding for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Wild Horse and Burro program, was Section 437 stating: "None of the funds made available in this act may be used for the sale or slaughter of wild free-roaming horses and burros."

In essence, this means that for any horses on which the BLM spends money--for capture, feeding, or care--the BLM is responsible for them not going to slaughter or they risk losing all their funding.

At the end of the legislative day at 7:35 p.m., the amendment was passed with 246 yeas and 159 nays.

If the appropriations bill passes the Senate and is signed by the President, wild horses and burros that might end up in the slaughterhouse will be protected from that fate only during 2006. Rahall also is the lead sponsor of H.R. 297, legislation that would offer permanent protection to wild horses and burros and repeal the December 2004 legislation that currently allows wild horses and burros over the age of 10, or that have not been adopted successfully within three tries, to be sold at public auction. H.R. 297 has not yet passed the House. At least 41 wild horses have been slaughtered since the 2004 amendment passed.

"The very notion that wild American horses would be slaughtered as a food source for foreign consumption abroad has struck a chord with the American people," stated Rahall.

However, the December legislation has allowed the placement of over 500 wild horses into private homes, as well as the sponsorship of Ford Motor Company helping the BLM find permanent homes for the wild horses through the "Save the Mustangs" fund (see www.TheHorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?id=5807).

"This new partnership (between Ford and the BLM) is an example of how the public sector and private industry can work together to help provide for the long-term care of these animals," said U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton.

The BLM is also working to persuade all three U.S. horse meat processing plants to refuse to buy any freeze-branded BLM horses sold under the December legislation, said Kathleen Clarke, director of the BLM.

"Our agency is committed to the well-being of wild horses and burros, both on and off the range," Clarke said. "With the support from Ford, the BLM will be able to carry out the will of Congress while finding good homes for wild horses and burros."

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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