House Passes Legislation to Restore and Strengthen Wild Horse Protections

Friday, July 17, 2009

Washington, D.C. -- In a decisive move, the U.S. House of Representatives today approved a measure to restore basic protections for America's wild horses and burros.

Led by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, Jr. (D-WV), Representative Ed Whitfield (R-KY), and Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-NM) the Restore Our American Mustang Act, or ROAM Act (H.R. 1018), passed by a vote of 239 to 185.

"At a time when nearly as many wild horses are in captivity as are on the range – a situation which is unacceptable in terms of both animal welfare and fiscal responsibility – the Animal Welfare Institute welcomes this action, and we are grateful to the bill's champions and supporters," says Chris Heyde, Deputy Director of Government and Legal Affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute.

In FY08, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the agency responsible for the animals in question, spent nearly 75 percent of its $36 million budget warehousing horses removed from the range. The new legislation, which must now pass the U.S. Senate, would encourage the reopening of certain public lands to the mustangs, thus potentially decreasing the number in captivity. The bill also restores a crucial protection to keep wild horses from going to slaughter, which was stripped away several years ago. Although Congressional intent and public sentiment are clearly against sending wild horses and burros to slaughter the BLM has recently threatened to kill more than 30,000 horses in holding areas as a cost-saving measure.

"The BLM's wild horse program and policies are broken. The ROAM Act offers an opportunity for the agency to restore its credibility when it comes to managing America's mustangs," says Heyde.“We urge the Senate to act swiftly before the BLM takes further actions of detriment to the horses.”

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Media Contact:
Chris Heyde, (202) 337-2332

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