The State of Play in DC, and What You Can Do to Help Wild Horses Right Now

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The summer doldrums, otherwise know as the August congressional recess, have hit Washington D.C., with still two more weeks to go until the House and Senate return for legislative business. But just because your congressman and senators are home in the district doesn't mean wild horses are safe from the bureaucrats who want to slaughter them. 

Behind the scenes in Congress and at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the agency entrusted with protecting wildlife on public lands, people are working overtime to allow the government the authority to slaughter over 90,000 wild horses in holding facilities and on the western range. 

In Washington, the Senate is preparing to return after Labor Day when they plan to proceed quickly in September to "mark-up" the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill. In this legislation, Committee Members could include language protecting wild horses from slaughter, as they have done in the past, or they could adopt language similar that contained in the House version that authorizes the killing of thousands of America’s majestic mustangs. Given the House language, it is critically important that the Senate maintain the protections so that we have a chance to prevail in a subsequent conference committee to reconcile the bills. We ask you to contact your Senators today to urge them to contact Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Lisa Murkowski to urge her ensure that wild horses continue to be protected in the Senate Interior Appropriations bill.   

As we've reported previously, the House of Representatives marked-up their Interior and Environment Appropriations bill in July, and removed a key provision that prevented BLM from destroying healthy wild horses. The new language will be included in a larger bill House Leadership is calling a "megabus" of seven other appropriations bills. House Leadership is planning to bring that bill to the floor in September against the strong objection of Democrats and many Republicans. Strong grassroots action is needed to tell the House to listen to over 80% of Americans and vote against the killing and slaughter of wild horses. 

In the executive branch, BLM continues its lobbying and disinformation campaign to allow horse slaughter. This week, Utah State University is holding a secret, closed-door three-day meeting to discuss the future of wild horses on public rangeland, and the future they envision doesn't seem to include wild free-roaming horses, only grazing cattle and sheep. 

The so-called "National Wild Horse and Burro Summit" features presentations by BLM officials, Congressmen, and Senators. Not attending will be the public or press who have been barred to "protect participants," according to the organizer. Additionally, while Utah State is hosting various pro-slaughter organizations, no wild horse advocates have been allowed to attend. As AWHC Executive Director, Suzanne Roy noted, “It’s a secret meeting and they are censoring any information that supports a humane alternative to slaughtering wild horses.” In short, it's a part of a concerted effort on behalf of small group of special interest ranchers and other taxpayer-subsidized users of public lands to stack the deck against wild horses to eliminate them from the West.   

In the coming weeks and months we'll hear an enormous amount of chatter from Washington about a possible government shutdown, the debt limit, and continuing resolutions as the end of the fiscal year approaches on September 30. Opponents of wild horses will try to use every one of these opportunities to secretly slip language into "must pass" legislation that allows mass slaughter of wild horses and burros--but we can stop them… with your help.  Please get involved. Call or visit your Congressman and Senators before they return to Washington, tell them to stand with over 80% of all Americans who agree on protecting these magnificent animals and their habitat, and oppose all backroom deals that imperil wild horses and burros by allowing for their mass destruction.