U.S. Senate Directs Forest Service to Protect Wild Horses from Slaughter

FY 20 Interior Appropriations bill language designed to stop the destruction and slaughter of Calfornia wild horses in Modoc National Forest

WASHINGTON, DC (September 27, 2019)... Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee passed Fiscal Year 2020 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies appropriations bill that included report language directing the U.S. Forest Service to ensure that wild horses are protected from slaughter.  The language is aimed at preventing the Modoc National Forest in California’s plan to sell federally protected wild horses from the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory without limitation on slaughter.

The plan drew sharp opposition from the public California political 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.

In response to the news that the Senate had included the Forest Service directive in FY 20 spending legislation, Asm. Gloria, who also led a California Legislature sign-on letter to U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris requesting the language stated, “This is an important step toward protecting California’s wild horses and simply the right thing to do,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria. “Slaughtering horses for human consumption is wrong and our federal government has no business facilitating that cruelty. I am grateful California’s Senate delegation and the Senate Appropriations Committee for recognizing  this and taking action to protect our horses from harm.”

Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Campaign, which has led the legal and legislative fight to protect California wild horses under Forest Service management, added,

“Californians and Americans in general strongly support protecting our iconic wild horses and burros from roundup and slaughter. Californians are lucky to have compassionate and dedicated leaders like Senator Feinstein and Assemblymember  Gloria who are staunch advocates for the humane treatment of horses, both domestic and wild.”

Most federally protected wild horses and burros in the U.S. are managed in the U.S. by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), but a smaller number fall under Forest Service jurisdiction. If it ultimately becomes law, the language will close a loophole in current appropriations law that prohibits the BLM from destroying healthy horses or selling them for slaughter but allows the Forest Service to do so.

It states, “The Service shall ensure that healthy, unadopted, wild horses and burros are not destroyed nor sold or otherwise transferred in a way that results in their destruction for processing into commercial products.”

The House included similar language in its FY 20 Interior spending bill passed in June.

The Forest Service is rounding up 500 horses from the Modoc National Forest this month. More info on the Modoc National Forest/Devil’s Garden wild horse controversy here.

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 and burros in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. In addition to advocating for protection and preservation of America’s wild herds, AWHC implements the largest wild horse fertility control program in the world through a partnership with the State of Nevada for wild horses that live in the Virginia Range near Reno.