fROM Animal Law Coalition
Senate Votes to Stop Slaughter of Wild Horses and Burros!
Posted Feb 25, 2009 by lauraallen
The Senate also prohibited BLM from using funds to kill healthy unadopted wild horses and burros!
Update Sept. 25, 2009: The Senate has voted to pass H.R. 2996, an appropriations bill for 2010 for the Dept. of Interior including the Bureau of Land Management ("BLM").
BLM manages the nation's wild horses and burros. In the bill the Senate made clear to the BLM: Appropriations ... made [in this bill]shall not be available for the destruction of healthy, unadopted, wild horses and burros in the care of the Bureau of Land Management or its contractors or for the sale of wild horses and burros that results in their destruction for processing into commercial products.
This mandate was proposed by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). This provision must still be approved by the U.S. House.
Also at Sen. Landrieu's urging
, the Senate Appropriations Committee found "the costs for gathering and holding equines to control populations on public lands have risen beyond sustainable levels. The Committee directs the Bureau to (1) consider private proposals for long-term care of wild horses and burros; (2) create a bidding process among such proposals, and (3) prepare and publish a new comprehensive long-term plan and policy for management of wild horses and burros that involves consideration and development of proposals by non-governmental entities, by September 30, 2010."
The Committee "encourage[d] all Federal agencies that need and use horses to fulfill their responsibilities to first seek to acquire a wild horse from the Bureau of Land Management, and, prior to seeking another supplier for usable horses, document why the Bureau cannot meet the needs of the inquiring Federal agency." The Committee "encouraged" BLM "to develop an expedited process for providing wild horses to local and State police forces."
Sen. Landrieu told the Senate, "We ... are down to just a few herds of horses. And the reason that i think that this is even more important than to just western states or the ranchers or landowners or humane society and others is because for the people generally, the idea of wild spaces with wild horses is something that is really part of our heritage. And we want to make sure that that heritage isn't lost, that we're being responsible in terms of the way the land is being used for multiple purposes and from the perspective of horse advocates, that the horses themselves are being treated fairly.
"And none of that right now is being done in the way that most people, i believe, would appreciate or would be satisfied with. There have been any number of studies that i'm going to submit to the record.
"Most recently, the congressional research service as well as the government accounting office has suggested major changes to the program. I'm just going to go through a few possible options. One, the creation of several public-private sanctuaries. This has been suggested by a few fairly high-profiled individuals in our country. The idea has merit. We are working with a variety of different groups along with the department to think about the possibility of creating public-private partnerships, large sanctuaries, maybe 500,000 or a million acres where thousands of wild horses could not only roam freely in a healthy way, but they also could potentially become ecotourist opportunities for some of the states and communities as it would be an attraction that could potentially make money and attract people out to some of these western areas. Or, for that matter, grant rural areas in other parts of the country.
"There is a possibility to make some smart investments to step up some of the adoption programs that might work. And there are any number of scientific and new technologies that can be brought to bear in terms of breed management, reproductive issues that could help us get a much more cost-effective, sane and humane approach to this problem."
Read Animal Law Coalition's reports below for information about the ROAM Act which would also put an end to the slaughter of wild horses and burros and killing of healthy animals and restructure the way BLM manages these beautiful American treasures.
Also, on September 29, 2009, Tuesday, 8:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m., join "Mustangs On The Hill" in Washington, DC. Gather on the West Front Lawn of Capitol Hill at 8:00 a.m. and spend the day meeting with Senators on the Committee of Energy and Natural Resources to urge them to support the ROAM Act. You may RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Before that, on September 28, 2009, Monday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. there will be a meeting of the BLM's National Wild Horses and Burros Advisory Board. Public comments are invited either in person or in writing. Plan to attend or send a statement! For more information....
WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO
Find and contact your U.S. senators here and urge them to tell the BLM to stop rounding up and removing our wild horses and also vote yes on the ROAM Act, S.B. 1579.
Go here to write your U.S. representative and urge him or her to tell the BLM to stop the roundup and removals of wild horses and burros!
Contact President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and urge them to support the ROAM Act, S.B. 1579! Phone: 202-456-1111 or 202-456-9000; Fax: 202-456-2461
The ROAM Act, S.B. 1579, has been assigned to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Fax, email or call committee here and 202-224-4971 and urge members to vote yes on S.B. 1579 to restore the protections Congress intended for America's wild horses and burros under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act passed in 1971.
Update Aug. 10: Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.VA.), long an opponent of the slaughter of American horses, has introduced the Senate version of the Restoring Our American Mustangs or ROAM. The bill, numbered S.B. 1579, is the same as the House version, H.R. 1018.The House version, H.R. 1018, has already passed.
Update July 17: After some debate on the floor, the U.S. House of Repesentatives voted to pass H.R. 1018, Restoring Our American Mustangs Act or R.O.A.M., which would restore protections for wild horses and burros lost in 2004 under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. The vote was 239-185.
This bill would require the wild horses and burros have the same amount of range land that they had in 1971 when the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act became law. H.R. 1018 would also implement tracking and sterilization programs and also to improve their health and provide more opportunites for adoption. No wild horses and burros could be sent to slaughter. No healthy wild horse or burro could be killed. Here is a copy of the bill.
This bill would require an about face by the BLM in its handling of wild horses and burros which has been largely to run them down, injuring and terrorizing these animals and destroying their families; trap them in holding pens and sell them for slaughter or euthanize them. Go here for more information on the BLM's plans to destroy wild horses and burros. And, go here for more on BLM policies regarding wild horses and burros.
Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) proposed a substitute that would simply have banned the slaughter of wild horses and burros. It would not have stopped the BLM, however, from rounding up these animals, keeping them in holding pens at a cost of about $20 million annually, and simply euthanizing them. That substitute was defeated by a vote of 348-74 in favor of the more comprehensive approach offered by H.R. 1018!
For more information on the bill, read Animal Law Coalition's reports below.
Update April 29: H.R. 1018 has passed the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee!
The vote was 21-14.
For more on H.R. 1018, R.O.A.M., the bill to restore the protections of the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act and how you can help pass it, read Animal Law Coalition's report below.
Original report: Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Az) have introduced H.R. 1018 to restore protections for wild horses and burros under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
Basically, the bill saves wild horses and burros from commercial sale and slaughter as originally intended under the Act.
The protections of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 were gutted in 2004 for many thousands of horses, leaving them at risk of sale and slaughter. That Act, 16 U.S.C. §1331, et seq., declares, "It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands."
In 2004 then Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), now a pro-horse slaughter lobbyist with the Washington D.C. firm, Gage, buried an amendment to this Act in a 3,300 page appropriations bill. That infamous amendment opened the door to the slaughter of thousands of horses. Basically under the Act there are certain horses and burros defined as excess animals. These are animals the [Bureau of Land Management] "BLM" has removed from an area "to preserve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship in that area" or for some other legal reason. See 16 USC §1332(f).
Under Burns Amendment, these "excess" horses "shall be sold...if the excess animal is more than 10 years of age; or ... has been offered unsuccessfully for adoption at least 3 times." 16 U.S.C. §1333. Any horse sold under this provision is no longer subject to the protections of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. 16 U.S.C.§1333. Since this amendment became effective, thousands of horses have been slaughtered for human consumption.
H.R. 1018 reverses the Burns Amendment. Though recent federal court rulings and Congressional action as well as state laws have shut down horse slaughter for human consumption in the U.S., for now, American horses are still shipped outside of the U.S., usually to Mexico and Canada for slaughter for their horse meat consumed primarily as a delicacy in some other countries.
This bill, H.R. 1018, will at least protect wild horses and burros from this fate.
A similar measure passed the House in the last session by a vote of 277-137 but remained stuck in a Senate committee.
This bill, H.R. 1018, would also prohibit the killing of healthy wild horses for any reason. Last year the Bureau of Land Management had proposed euthanizing wild horses en masse. Go here for more on that. And here.
This bill would require the Bureau of Land Management to take steps to improve the tracking and census of these animals by adopting and "[e]mploy scientifically sound methods to develop a policy for setting consistent, appropriate management levels". The bill clarifies that in doing so, the agency would be required to consult with other federal agencies and other experts including those outside of the government.
Finding more range land and sanctuaries and reducing numbers through contraception
The BLM would be required to "[i]dentify new, appropriate rangelands for wild free-roaming horses and burros, including use of land acquisitions, exchanges, conservation easements, and voluntary grazing buyouts, and negotiate with private landowners to allow for the federally supervised protection of wild horses and burros on private lands." The new law would required the BLM to "[e]stablish sanctuaries or exclusive use areas" and, significantly, "[r]esearch, develop, and implement enhanced surgical or immunocontraception sterilization or other safe methods of fertility control."
The BLM would be required to develop and implement a much more aggressive adoption program that would also more rigorously screen adopters. Notably, the bill would not allow helicopters or "other [inhumane] airborne devices" for corraling and removing wild horses and burros. Also, wild horses and burros could not be contained in "corrals or other holding facilities for more than 6 months, while awaiting disposition."
Wild horses and burros could be removed temporarily otherwise from rangeland in the event of threats to their health and safety such as drought conditions.
A more open, accessible BLM when it comes to wild horses and burros
The public's right to be involved in in determining management level standards is guaranteed under this bill. The new law would require the BLM also to post information on a website accessible free of charge to the public about herd numbers, planned removals of horses or burros, animals injured during removals, and generally the treatment of wild horses and burros.
The BLM would be required to report annually to Congress the following: (1) number of acres for wild free-roaming horses and burros. (2) appropriate management levels on public rangelands, (3) description of the methods used to determine the appropriate management levels and whether it was applied consistently across the agency, (4) number of wild free-roaming horses and burros on public lands; (5) description of the methods used to determine the wild free-roaming horse and burro population; (6) any land acquisitions, exchanges, conservation easements, and voluntary grazing buyouts that the Bureau of Land Management has acquired or pursued for wild free-roaming horses and burros; (7) any sanctuaries or exclusive use areas established for wild free-roaming horses and burros; (8) programs including budget established for enhanced surgical or immunocontraception sterilization research and development and the extent to which fertility control is being used to control the population of wild free-roaming horses and burros;(9) ratio of horses the agency has contracepted and put back on the range; and (10) herds to which contraception has been administered and with what results.
Rep. Rahall chairs the House Natural Resources Committee and Rep. Grijalva leads the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.