Update on Horse Slaughter: 2019 Appropriations Bills Bring Mixed Results So Far
America’s horses—both wild and domestic—are once again caught in the crossfire of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House Appropriations Committees.
The Senate Committee, keenly listening to the wishes of the public, included the long-held provision that prevents horse slaughterhouses from operating in the United States in its version of the 2019 Appropriations bill. The language was rolled into the manager’s amendment, which is usually reserved for noncontroversial issues, signaling extremely strong bipartisan support. Unfortunately, the House Committee chose not to include this pivotal provision, opening the door for horse slaughter to return to our land once again. You may recall that similarly disparate decisions were made last year. Luckily, the provision was ultimately included in the FY18 omnibus appropriations bill, thwarting attempts to resurrect this gruesome industry on American soil.
The House and Senate now need to reconcile their two versions of the Agriculture Appropriations bill. Leadership from both Committees will meet to decide which provisions of each version of the bill will end up in the final. It is crucial that the Senate version, which includes the anti- slaughter provision, be included.
You may also recall from last year that the U.S. House included an amendment to its Interior Appropriations bill that would have allowed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to kill tens of thousands of healthy wild horses and burros. Fortunately, no such amendment was raised this year. The House Committee did pass an amendment to increase funding for the wild horse and burro program, and gave the BLM authority to sterilize horses as a form of herd management and maintain non-reproducing herds on federal land. The Senate Committee echoed the increase of funding for the program, but instead directed the Agency to pursue a multi-strategy approach that is both politically viable and within its current authorities. We see this as a positive, given that the agency once requested unlimited authority to kill our wild herds. The final bill will determine the future of our wild horses.
The Senate has set the stage for the BLM to move forward with herd-management solutions that are humane, effective and sustainable. By combining fertility control with strategic removals from the range, increased adoptions, and the development of sanctuaries through public-private partnerships, the BLM can fulfill its duty to effectively and humanely manage our iconic herds on federal lands. If the agency continues to lose ground on this issue, we fear that lethal management techniques will loom over our herds every year.
You can help! Your voice is critical to ensuring that the cruel horse slaughter industry does not return to American soil and that our federally protected wild horses are humanely managed. Please visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center to quickly contact your federal legislators and tell them that retaining protections for all American horses, both domestic and wild, is important to you.