Updates On U.S. Forest Service’s Plan for California’s Wild Horses
The Forest Service’s roundup of the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory has ended with the permanent removal of over 900 horses from their federally-designated habitat on our public lands in California’s Modoc National Forest. We’ve learned that at least 13 horses have died, including a foal. Three mares aborted foals likely due to the trauma of the roundup.
The Forest Service reported euthanizing 7 horses who showed symptoms of pigeon fever, a contagious but usually non-fatal bacterial infection. In spite of the outbreak, the Forest Service held an adoption/sales event this past weekend knowing that pigeon fever is communicable to other livestock.
At this time, the Forest Service intends to sell older horses by the truckload for $1 a piece without limitation on slaughter beginning January 15 or after.
California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra has spoken out about this clear breach of state law noting that it is a felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison. However, the Forest Service is exploiting a legal loophole that puts hundreds of horses in grave danger.
Our lawsuit to stop the “sale without limitation” of the remaining horses is on an expedited briefing schedule with filings due at Thanksgiving and on Christmas Eve day. It is our goal to ensure none of the horses end up in the slaughter pipeline.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has recently submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary and Chief of the U.S. Forest Service urging them to reverse their decision to sell California wild horses without restriction. The U.S. Forest initially rounded up 1,000 protected wild horses in October from the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory to reduce the horse populations within the Modoc National Forest. The Forest service will prioritize the adoption of wild horses by members of the public until January 10th, 2019.
After January 10th, 2019, any horses that remain from the October roundup will be for sale without restriction. This Forest Service policy change not only risks violating state law but also contradicting federal law in the Department of the Interior. Attorney General Becerra explains, “To slaughter for commercial consumption mustangs that have roamed California for over a century is not only atrocious, but unlawful. These majestic animals captivate the imagination and symbolize the rugged independence of the American West. We urge the federal government to treat the Modoc National Forest and its wildlife with the respect that it is due by protecting these beautiful wild horses from the commercial slaughterhouse.”
Advocates Continue Working to Protect Wild Horses in Devil’s Garden
Front Range Equine Rescue has partnered with other advocates to protect captured wild horses from the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory (Modoc National Forest, CA) from being sold by the truckload for $1 each by the U.S. Forest Service.
The lawsuit states, in part, that the U.S. Forest Service has “abruptly and inexplicably reversed the long-standing policy of two different federal agencies concerning the disposal of wild horses removed from federal public lands, all but guaranteeing that federally protected wild horses will now be slaughtered for human consumption in violation of the California Penal Code and multiple federal laws, as well as the expressed will of Congress and the American people.”
Furthermore, “…after a short period when the wild horses could be adopted, the Forest Service has announced that any older horses or horses not successfully adopted will be offered for sale “without limitation.” Sales of wild horses to commercial slaughter are anticipated to begin as early as January 2019.”
The lawsuit charges violations of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (Wild Horse Act) and the National Forest Management Act.
Plaintiffs in the case are Front Range Equine Rescue, The Humane Society of the United States, Marin Humane, Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills, Return to Freedom, humane law enforcement officers Cindy Machado and Rosemary Frieborn.
Advocacy organizations are working hard to find safe, qualified adoptive homes for horses up for adoption as well as humane options for those facing the danger of sale to slaughter. The Forest Service needs to cooperate and do the right thing for the 1,000 horses it removed by adhering to laws protecting wild horses.
Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have put the U.S. Forest Service on notice regarding the sale without limitation of horses rounded up from California’s Modoc National Forest.
FRER and HSUS sent a strongly worded letter to the Forest Service (under the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture) which reads in part that they:
…are writing to put you on notice with respect to violations of federal and state law in connection with the Forest Service’s plan to sell wild horses “without limitation” after it captures them from the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory, found in the Modoc National Forest in northeastern California. It is commonly understood, and can certainly be proven, that the sale of wild horses without limitation (especially at the announced $1/per horse price) will result in their sale to purchasers who will ship them to Canada or Mexico, where they will be slaughtered for human consumption.
The Forest Service’s plans to sell wild horses without limitation are in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq. (NEPA), the Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations, 40 C.F.R. parts 1500-1508, the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 551, et seq. (APA), California Penal Code section 598c, the spirit of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (“Wild Horse Act”), 16 U.S.C. § 1331 et seq., Congressional sentiment, and the desire of the majority of the American people. We hope that after review of this letter, the Forest Service will withdraw its decision to sell any wild horses “without limitation” in connection with this gather. If the Forest Service is not willing to change its decision, we will consider all other legal remedies available to our clients and their supporters, to stop the Forest Service’s actions.
FRER and HSUS have given the Forest Service until October 23 to provide a response.
In 2016, the BLM attempted cruel and dangerous sterilization experiments on wild mares with Oregon State University.
Public outcry and lawsuits filed by wild horse advocacy groups like FRER helped to stop this horrific plan…but now, the BLM is at it again. With a few changes, their current proposal is similar to the gruesome plan of two years ago, but this time CO State University applied for the research grant money to participate.
Most of the wild mares will be in various stages of pregnancy. They will use a surgical procedure known as ovariectomy by colpotomy which has known high risks of pain, bleeding, infection, abortion of foals and evisceration where the intestines protrude through the surgical incision. Even the National Academy of Sciences has concluded this procedure is “inadvisable for field application”.
The surgery itself is described graphically by BLM as follows:
The surgical procedure would involve making an incision, approximately 1–3 centimeters long, in the anterior-dorsallateral vagina. Both ovaries are accessed through this one incision. The incision would be enlarged with blunt dissection to perforate the peritoneum and allow the surgeon’s hand to enter the abdomen. . . . The ovary and associated mesovarium are isolated by direct manual palpation and local anesthesia (5 ml 5% bupivacaine and 5 ml 2% lidocaine) is injected into each ovarian pedicle. . . . The ovarian pedicle would be transected with a chain ecraseur.
Given the serious risks to the mares subjected to this experiment, the BLM has not sufficiently justified the need for the research when (in their own assessment) all the experiment “may” do is provide “more details” about a surgical procedure. This amounts to first-line experimentation on the very horses that BLM is required to protect from harm and suffering which goes against the agency’s obligations under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act to protect wild horses from harm and suffering.
The BLM has numerous alternatives for population management of wild horses including PZP (a safe form of birth control which BLM has not widely used).
Comments on the Environmental Assessment are due July 30th. You can submit them directly to the BLM at [email protected]
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Has A New Sale Policy, Take Action Now!
BLM has revised their sale policy to allow agency officials to increase the number of wild horses and burros sold to individuals and organizations from a limit of 4 now to 25.
The prior policy from 2012 limited individuals and organizations to purchase just four horses in a six-month period. This policy emerged after investigations showed that the BLM was selling horses to a known kill buyer who then sent them to slaughter.
This has left the door wide-open for kill buyers to come and fill their trucks with no regard for the lives of America’s wild horses and burros.
The Department of the Interior must act on behalf of the horses immediately when humane options for wild horses and burros exist.
Responsible management means focusing on finding more humane homes for captured horses with more gentling programs to improve adoption rates. Large-scale fertility control on the range using already developed humane, safe methods (PZP) need to be more widely used. The BLM should make better use of the numerous public-private relationship offers to better manage the horses.
No government agency should be allowed to kill them off to manage their budget or correct a poorly run wild horse and burro program.
Contact your elected officials in Congress to stand up to the BLM and Interior Department which oversees the BLM. Tell Congress to ensure wild horse and burro protections remain in place and slaughter is not an option. Locate your Congresspeople via 202-224-3121.
Establishing Language that Protects America’s Wild Horses and Burros
The U.S. House Appropriations Committee is considering the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) budget bill for the Interior Department. This bill includes funding for the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.
A current draft of the bill protects wild horses and burros from mass killing and slaughter. However, it is expected that Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah will introduce an amendment to remove these protections.
If the House fails to keep protective language within the FY19 Interior Department budget bill, it will be critical that the Senate version provides these protections. And, that the Senate version prevails during a reconciliation of differences between the two bills.
Contact your U.S. House Rep and two Senators through the Capitol operator at 202-224-3121 to keep language which protects America’s wild horses and burros in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget bill.
There is no need for unnecessary roundups to stockpile more horses in holding facilities or seek out untested, dangerous, and even deadly “sterilization” techniques.
The BLM has humane options available, which include:
managing horses on the rangelands allocated to them by law.
keeping populations in check through the use of PZP (a proven birth control method).
improving adoption rates.
forming public-private partnerships to monitor the herds.
Amendment to Prevent Funding for Horsemeat Inspections Fails to be Passed
Last week, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee failed to pass an amendment to prevent funding for horsemeat inspections which would open the door for new U.S. horse slaughter plants. This funding is part of the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will work on their version of this budget bill shortly. It is critical that they vote in favor of an amendment to stop funding for horsemeat inspections which means horse slaughter plants could not operate in the U.S.
America’s horses are not raised as a food animal. They are not regulated and have multiple owners during their lives. Horses are given medications and other products which contain substances banned for use in food animals. America’s horses are unfit for human consumption.
America’s Mustangs Face Roundups, Mass Sterilization and Killing to Cut Population and Destroy Herds
Wording from the BLM’s plan to drastically cut wild horse and burro populations provides clear evidence of their “manage to extinction” goal:
Option I: This option focuses on achieving national AML in 8 years, while reducing off-range holding costs dramatically over the first 4 years… this would require making use of all legal authorities contained in the Act (especially sale without limitation and euthanasia of unadopted or unsold animals), including use of contraceptives and limited sterilization techniques.
Option II: This option focuses on achieving national AML in 10 years using contraceptive fertility control treatments… and minimal permanent sterilization of mares or stallions.
Option III: This option focuses on achieving national AML in 6 years using an aggressive removal operation in conjunction with sterilization of 3,000 mares and stallions gathered annually… animals that are gathered and not sterilized would be moved to off-range facilities.
Option IV: This option would achieve national AML in 2030 by using an aggressive effort to gather, sterilize and return wild horses and burros to the range… off-range populations would begin to decrease almost immediately through natural mortality and efforts for private care placement… Fertility control treatments would focus on permanent sterilization through FY24 when more than 80 percent of the animals on the range would be permanently sterilized.
While the plan mentions increasing adoptions via a financial incentive, it also states that the BLM should have authority to “sell without limitation all excess wild horses and burros and euthanize horses for which an adoption demand does not exist.” Proposals also include lowering sale-eligibility from over age 10 to over 5 years of age; reduce the one year period to gain title from an adoption to six months and allow adopters to obtain more than 4 animals in a year.
The administration’s budget for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) does not include protections for wild horses and burros. In a few short months Congress will need to review and vote on that budget.
It will be up to wild horse advocates and the general public to fight on behalf of protecting America’s fast dwindling wild horse and burro herds. Let Congress know that tax dollars should not be wasted on inhumane proposals to kill off wild horses and the 1971 Act should not be amended to allow for their unlimited sale, mass killing, permanent sterilization or slaughter. Reach Congress at 202-224-3121.
To avoid a government shutdown, Congress is poised to vote on the FY2018 budget bill by midnight Friday.
The good news is that the current Omnibus spending bill uses the Senate’s version of the Agriculture Department and Interior Department budget bills which (1) prevent funding for horse meat inspections, and (2) keeps language to protect wild horses and burros from unlimited sale, mass killing or slaughter.
But it is not a done deal until the final vote by Congress!
Call now to urge Congressional leaders to keep America’s horses safe by ensuring the final Omnibus budget bill does not allow for funding of horse meat inspectors and keeps protections for wild horses and burros against any unlimited sale or slaughter.
Contact your own elected officials to ensure they will not vote for any budget bill allowing funding for horse slaughter or the mass killing, unlimited sale and slaughter of wild horses and burros. Find your Reps and Senators via Capital switchboard 202-224-3121.
America’s horses are NOT raised as a food animal. They are not regulated as a food animal. There are many humane alternatives in place for both domestic and wild horses. We stand by our horses!
We are at a crossroads for saving America’s wild horses and burros.
The American people must decide whether lethal management destroys tens of thousands of wild horses or humane solutions are properly funded and implemented.
For decades the BLM has chosen a “manage to extinction” policy for its Wild Horse and Burro Program. Millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on annual roundups and warehousing of the mustangs (and burros). Powerful and wealthy special interests (livestock, oil & gas, mining) have relentlessly pursued the elimination of the American mustang.
Terror, injuries, and death have resulted from roundups as well as the destruction of tightly bonded family bands. Too many herds have fallen below genetic diversity threatening their viable existence.
Can it all be turned around?
But not without tremendous public pressure and support.
Humane solutions are readily available. Many have already been proven safe and successful, but remain ignored or underutilized.
They include but are not limited to, PZP darting for population control, eco-sanctuaries, management on the range, public-private partnerships and more gentling/training programs to increase adoption rates.
Where do we stand now?
The 2018 fiscal year (FY18) budget is being marked up now. The House of Representatives and the Senate each have versions of budget bills submitted by government agencies for 2018.
The Department of Interior’s budget funds the BLM and its wild horse program. Currently, the House version of this bill has no language to protect wild horses and burros from unlimited sale, mass killing or slaughter.
A majority of the BLM’s wild horse and burro advisory board recently recommended “lethal options” to kill off tens of thousands of wild horses and burros including a proposal to send thousands of them to Russia as prey for tigers.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is poised to vote on their version of this bill which needs language to protect the horses.
We cannot let the BLM kill their way out of a self-inflicted budget crisis.
At least 80% of the public stands by wild horses and their protection. Too many are still unaware of this critical issue.
Don’t let time run out for America’s living symbols of our freedom.
Contact members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and urge them to vote on behalf of protecting wild horses and burros from unlimited sale, mass killing or slaughter when they review the FY2018 Interior Department budget bill. Tell them you do not want your taxpayer dollars spent to kill innocent horses when humane and financially responsible options exist.
Senate Appropriations Committee Takes Up Interior Department Budget Bill
Wild Horse and Burro Lives Are On the Line!
The federal government’s fiscal year runs October 1 to September 30. Each year an omnibus budget bill is developed, reviewed, edited, and voted on to fund the government. A new approved budget is often delayed meaning the prior year’s bill often carries over into a new fiscal year.
Government agencies submit their appropriations budget bills to make up the omnibus package.
The 2018 Fiscal Year (FY18) budget is currently in the reconciliation phase with final voting expected in early December.
Horses and the Budget:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture appropriations bill determines whether funding for horsemeat inspections (i.e., horse slaughter) is allowed or not.
The Interior Department’s budget bill is where funding is allocated for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to manage programs like the Wild Horse and Burro Program.
The House of Representatives Appropriations failed America’s horses not once, but twice, when (1) failing to vote “NO” on funding for horsemeat inspections by USDA and (2) by not including an amendment to stop the killing and sale to slaughter of America’s wild horses and burros.
Note: The House Rules committee also refused to allow the introduction of amendments to the House Appropriations bills which would protect wild horses and burros from killing and slaughter (Titus-King-Polis amendment) and to prevent funding for horsemeat inspections (Buchanan-Roybal/Allard amendment).
Fortunately, the Senate Appropriations Committee had already voted “YES” on the Udall-Graham amendment to prevent tax dollars from being used for horsemeat inspections (no horse slaughter).
At this time it is critical that the Senate Appropriations Committee allows an amendment to include language in the budget bill to protect wild horses and burros from unlimited sale, killing and slaughter because the House version has stripped away these protections.
It is also critical that the Senate’s version of the Agriculture Appropriations bill which includes language not to allow funds for horsemeat inspections remains in the final budget bill.
The reconciliation process involves keeping the House and Senate versions of budget bills which are in agreement, but it must reconcile the differences. Right now, the fate of America’s horses depends on the U.S. Senate as the budget heads into its final version.
What You Need To Do To Save Horses Now:
Call, write and/or email your U.S. Senators. If your elected official is on the Senate Appropriations Committee, he or she needs to hear from you asap.
With all of the crises in this country and desperate need to use taxpayer dollars wisely, the idea of butchering America’s horses is not only cruel and appalling but clearly a fraudulent waste of tax money.
This article from The Hill states that the special interests lobbyists, many of whom are millionaire cattle ranchers, are pushing to slaughter America’s wild horses. The goal of the horse slaughter lobby is to clear public lands of wild horses and replace them with cattle.
“Thanks to the greed of tiny but powerful industry lobby, congressional Republicans are about to legalize the slaughter of America’s wild horses – and commit political suicide in the process. Polls show that 80 percent of men, 90 percent of women and 86 percent of Trump supporters oppose horse slaughter. With nine Republican House seats up for grabs according to the Cook Report, opposition should be a no brainer. But this hasn’t stopped Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke from leading the charge, while House Republicans have already passed legislation that would legalize an inhumane practice that has been outlawed for fifty years.
The push to slaughter wild horses is coming from a narrow – but powerful – special interest lobby in the D.C. swamp made up of millionaire and billionaire cattle ranchers on America’s federal lands. Public-lands ranchers make up just 2 percent of U.S. cattle operators, represent just 0.06 percent of total employment in 11 western states and produce only 3 percent of American beef.”
On September 5 and 6, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Rules Committee rejected bi-partisan amendments which would have stopped the use of tax dollars to (1) fund horsemeat inspectors and (2) protect wild horses and burros from being killed or sent to slaughter.
It was clear the votes were there on the House floor to have passed these amendments if the Rules Committee had allowed the introduction of these amendments to the FY2018 appropriations budget bill.
While this is a shameful act displaying “dirty politics” at its worst, it is not the end of the issue.
The Senate version of the appropriations budget bill contains language to prevent any funding for horsemeat inspections. However, the Senate has not yet taken up the issue for wild horses.
Our tax dollars should be used to help disaster victims (hurricanes, wildfires), veterans, health care, infrastructure, the opioid crisis and more — NOT to brutally kill America’s wild and domestic horses to please a profit-driven livestock/agriculture industry or oil/gas interests wanting to take over our public lands!
Tens of thousands of horses’ lives depend on us to speak for them today.
Contact your two Senators and House Rep through the U.S. Capitol operator, 202-224-3121. Tell them politely, but firmly, that you oppose the use of tax dollars to slaughter America’s domestic or wild horses. Tell them to support language in the FY2018 appropriations budget which prevents funding for horsemeat inspections and language which does not allow the mass killing or sale to slaughter of wild horses.
There are numerous humane and successful alternatives for domestic and wild horses other than slaughter.
America’s horses are not raised or regulated as a food animal. They are unfit for human consumption. That includes captured wild horses which have received medications or other treatments which contain substances banned for use in food animals (wormer, vaccines, oral or topical medications).
Your help is urgently needed to protect horses against the cruel fate of horse slaughter in our country.
If your U.S. Representative sits on the House Appropriations Committee (check here ), please call her/him immediately and urge a YES vote on the Dent/Roybal-Allard Amendment to keep horse slaughter plants out of our country.
Horse slaughter plants are rearing their ugly heads to re-open, and they most certainly will if this amendment fails in committee where it will be voted on as soon as next week.
Take two minutes today to place a quick call to your member of Congress if he/she serves on this committee to ensure that no U.S. tax dollars are wasted on propping up this horrific and foreign-owned industry.
America’s horses are not raised for food! Population control, retraining, and re-homing are just a few practical alternatives to slaughter.
We thank the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition for working hard to expose and stop the horror of horse slaughter in Canada.
Tens of thousands of American horses are shipped to Canada each year.
However, their suffering begins long before reaching the border as we (and many others) can testify to. There are four horse slaughterhouses in Canada, and horse slaughter is legal. Some of the meat is shipped to Japan, which we’ve covered before.
There is NO excuse for horse slaughter. Not now, not ever!
The current administration’s budget for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro program proposes a “cut and kill” agenda.
The federal budget looks to cut $10M from the BLM’s budget. Other decreases in spending would occur from reducing roundups and population control measures, but also from gutting wild horse numbers by allowing their sale for slaughter.
Act now before it’s too late to stop this inhumane and reckless attempt at budget management. Practical solutions already exist to responsibly protect and care for wild horses such as management on the range, use of PZP for population control, gentling/training programs to improve adoption rates, eco-tourism and sanctuaries.
Contact your Congressional representatives today to voice opposition to the cruel and irresponsible treatment of America’s wild horses. America’s mustangs are not numbers on paper, but are living symbols of our history! www.house.gov and www.senate.gov
Voice your opposition to Ryan Zinke, head of the Interior Department which oversees the BLM: [email protected]
Details of the federal government’s large Omnibus spending bill to cover the rest of Fiscal Year 2017 (through September 30) were released early this week.
Some good news — the bill includes language to prohibit funding for horse slaughter inspections.
This means no horse slaughter plants can operate in the U.S. However the “reprieve” is only for the next few months when a new budget bill must be passed.
And mixed news for wild horses — the bill contains language to prevent the BLM and its contractors from sending wild horses to slaughter. However, there is concern that some language in the bill could be used to argue for the illegal transfer of mustangs into the slaughter pipeline.
Advocates are very concerned about Section 116 of the spending bill which allows the BLM to remove federal protection from wild horses and transfer them over to states and local governments to use as “work animals.”
Up to 50,000 wild horses could lose protection under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act due to this provision.
We need to thank and support those in Congress who stand up against horse abuse!
Be sure to contact your Congressional representatives to get on board with ending horse slaughter now.
According to a recent article on Tuesday’s Horse, Representative Earl Blumenhauer (D-OR) issued a statement about his work with the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus and the recent March Against Horse Slaughter.
His statement was highly encouraging to animal rights advocates, and he has great hopes that the SAFE Act will pass.
“Whether it’s fighting to strengthen existing laws, or working to push forward new ones, we must continue to fight for policies that protect animals in the United States and abroad. Today’s briefing was a small, but significant step in this Congress, and I am proud to have worked to provide a glimmer of light amidst this strange and unusual time.” – Rep. Earl Blumenhauer
Horsemeat is not just consumed by some European countries. Japan has put its own twist on this disgusting industry.
Japan is one of the world’s leading importers or horsemeat, and apparently they are now importing horses from Canada. The horsemeat is used in a specialty sushi, and oils from the horses’ bodies are used in beauty products.