California lawmakers move to get tough with feds on wild horse slaughter

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Andrew Sheeler, Sacramento Bee

December 4, 2018

California’s wild horses could soon be given more state protection — a move prompted by the U.S. Forest Service’s decision to allow the potential sale of hundreds of wild horses to slaughterhouses.

California State Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, on Tuesday introduced Assembly Bill 128, which would strengthen state law that makes it a felony to sell, import, export or possess a horse for the purpose of slaughter for human consumption.

“Californians have made very clear that they oppose the slaughter of wild horses, but the Trump Administration still does not seem to get it,” Gloria said in a statement announcing the bill. “Horses in California should be treated humanely and wild horses should be able to live freely on our public lands.”

Spokesman Nick Serrano said the bill is still being drafted, but Gloria expects it will improve enforcement of current restrictions.

Gloria was among nearly two dozen state lawmakers who joined U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinsteinin calling on the Forest Service to stop a planned roundup of hundreds of horses, with those horses 10 and older to be made available for sale for $1 without limitation if they are not adopted in a set amount of time.

Gloria’s bill was welcomed by the executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign, which first criticized the sale.

“The vast majority of Californians and all Americans want to treat horses humanely and keep wild horses running free on our public lands,” Roy said in a statement released Tuesday.

There are no American horse slaughter facilities, according to the AWHC, but buyers will often transport horses to plants in Canada and Mexico, with the horsemeat then being sent overseas for human consumption.

Federal law prohibits horses under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management from being sold for the purpose of slaughter. However, the U.S. Forest Service is under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has no such limitation.

“In proposing to sell federally protected horses in California for slaughter, the Forest Service is taking advantage of a loophole and clearly violating congressional intent to prevent federally protected horses from being sold for slaughter,” according to a statement from the wild horse campaign.

Originally posted by the Sacramento Bee