PUT THE REINS ON HORSE SLAUGHTER

By Manda Kalimian

This week, the House Appropriations Committee will take a key vote to determine whether or not the meat you eat could be a horse.

Our nation’s current wild horse management programs and policies have largely been in effect since 1971, when the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 was signed into law by President Nixon as an answer to capture techniques that were considered inhumane and resulted in the slaughter of thousands of horses.

Support for these initiatives have been longstanding. In fact, just this April, Congress passed a spending bill with
provisions that included language directing the Bureau of Land Management to create a plan to maintain long-term and sustainable wild horse populations and preventing the BLM from sending wild horses to slaughter for human consumption to address population concerns.

However, now, a mere 2 months later, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Trump Administration have reversed course and signaled a return to the grizzly pre-1971 methods of handling the wild horse population, and have proposed stripping federal protections for wild horses and burros in the fiscal 2018 budget. Citing the current situation as untenable, Secretary Zinke’s proposal would allow thousands upon thousands of horses to be shipped to slaughter in Canada and Mexico for consumption in Europe and Asia.

The proposal affects over 80,000 wild horses, including over 50,000 horses currently held in captivity by the Bureau of Land Management.

With this proposal taken up and strongly heralded by the Trump Administration, the House and Senate are the last lines of defense that will protect wild horses from wholesale slaughter.

However, there are two vital opportunities that advocates need to seize in order to affect the outcome for thousands of horses that are in danger.

The House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Interior bill will include the longstanding language that
prohibits slaughter. There may be amendments to fulfill Secretary Zinke’s request to allow slaughter. As soon as next week, the committee could weigh in on this key provision. The vote is expected to be razor-close.

And secondly, advocates need to put pressure on their representatives if this reaches the full House and as
discussions begin in the Senate.

The issue related to wild horses in the United States is one that requires effective land management by the BLM, not the slaughter and inhumane treatment of thousands of horses with a keen eye to protecting special interests in the ranching industry.

On his first day as Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke rode a horse to work. We now urge him to reconsider his
support for a proposal that would put that horse on a dinner table.

Manda Kalimian is President of CANA Foundation, which works to protect wild horses and return them to native
lands.