Fate of Nation’s Wild Horses and Burros At Stake in Senate Hearing Tomorrow

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FY 20 Interior Approps Markup to Tackle Controversial Issues of Mass Roundups & Slaughter 

Washington, DC (September 23, 2019)... Much is at stake for America’s wild horses and burros tomorrow as the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies holds a markup hearing on the FY20 Interior spending bill. Among the issues the subcommittee has been wrangling with:

  • A prohibition on the Forest Service’s sale of wild horses for slaughter. This would close a current loophole in appropriations law that prohibits the BLM from selling federally-protected wild horses and burros for slaughter but allows the Forest Service to do so. 
  • Funding to implement a controversial cattlemen’s plan for wild horse and burro management that calls for accelerated roundups, vastly expanded warehousing of captured wild horses in holding pens and pastures, and surgical sterilization of horses that remain in the wild.  

“The American Wild Horse Campaign strongly oppose the cattlemen’s plan for America’s wild horses and burros, which will ultimately achieve the industry’s long-held goal of eradicating wild free-roaming horse and burro populations from the American West,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of the AWHC. “We urge the Senate to stand with the majority of Americans who oppose slaughter and want wild horses humanely managed in their legally protected home on our public lands.”

The House version of the FY20 Interior spending bill included the Forest Service slaughter prohibition but also included a $6 million budget increase for the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program to begin implementation of the cattlemen’s plan. 

“We’re hopeful that the Senate will not join the House in wasting tax dollars by throwing more money at a broken federal program that has shown no interest or ability to reform,” concluded Roy, noting that 73 percent of the agency’s budget is spent to roundup and remove wild horses from the range and warehouse them or adopt them out, while less than 1 percent is spent to manage horses humanely on the range with scientifically-recommended birth control.

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, with more than 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.


AWHC is urging the Senate include Forest Service slaughter ban to block a proposal by the Modoc National Forest to sell California wild horses for slaughter. That plan has provoked stiff opposition from California citizens and their elected leaders, including U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, 27 members of California’s Congressional Delegation (and 37 other members of Congress) and Assemblyman Todd Gloria and dozens of his legislative colleagues, and sparked the introduction of state legislation to better protect California horses from slaughter. 

AWHC also opposes Senate funding for the cattlemen’s plan, which has been endorsed by two large corporate animal welfare groups and is misleadingly being presented as a “stakeholder” compromise when, in reality, it is opposed by virtually every wild horse protection and horse welfare organization in the nation.

It calls for the removal of over 100,000 wild horses from public lands over the next ten years and a tripling of the number of horses in holding with no guarantee of funding for their longterm care. It would destroy America’s free-roaming herds by reducing populations to near extinction level while allowing for controversial sterilization surgeries and sex ratio skewing of 7 stallions to every 3 mares in the wild.


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