The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to maintain the long-standing ban on horse slaughterhouse inspections by the US Department of Agriculture. Prohibiting these inspections effectively prevents such plants from operating in this country. However, the House Appropriations Committee narrowly voted against keeping the ban in place. Opponents of the amendment shamelessly mischaracterized the provision and, in a deliberate move to confuse committee members, erroneously tied it to the wild horse issue. With the Senate language in place, the fight continues, and every effort is being made to ensure that horse slaughter will not be allowed to resume in the fiscal year starting in October.
The House Appropriations Committee then approved a Fiscal Year 2018 spending bill for the Department of the Interior that removes long-standing protections for wild horses and burros. Under an amendment by Representative Chris Stewart (R-UT), the federal government and its agents would be permitted to kill healthy unadopted wild horses and burros; the only limitation is that they could not sell them to be used in “commercial products,” including for human consumption. The bill would also permit transferring these animals to other federal, state, and local agencies for “use as work animals,” and would strip any transferred horses and burros of their legal status as “wild free-roaming.” (Receiving agencies, however, would not be able to “destroy” or sell these animals for use in “commercial products” or have them euthanized unless a vet recommends it.) The acceptance of this amendment breaks faith with the American public’s expectations regarding the management of wild horses and burros.