House Votes to Restore Federal Protections for America's Wild Horses

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the nation's largest animal protection organization, is applauding Congress for passing the Rahall-Whitfield amendment on May 19th in a landslide vote of 249-159 to restore the 34-year-old ban on the commercial sale and slaughter of wild free-roaming horses and burros that was lifted in the closing days of the last Congressional session.

"This is a huge victory for the animals, driven by an enormous outpouring of public concern, and The Humane Society of the United States is grateful that Congress acted to save our nation's wild horses from the slaughterhouse," said Nancy Perry, vice president of government affairs for The HSUS. "These animals are an integral part of our landscape and deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion. We urge the Senate to follow suit."

"The House has sided with horse protection over horse slaughter, "said Wayne Pacelle, president and C.E.O of The HSUS. "Wild horses are majestic icons of the West, and they should be treated with dignity and respect. We are enormously grateful for the leadership of Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY) in advocating for the horses."

The amendment, attached to the Interior appropriations bill, was sponsored by Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY) in response to stealth legislation introduced by Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) that gutted federal protections of wild horses and passed with no hearing or debate as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill. The Burns amendment reversed longstanding federal policy that banned wild horses from being sold at auction and subsequently shipped to slaughter plants.

Since its passage, 41 wild horses were sold at auction by the Bureau of Land Management and immediately sent to slaughter by the purchasers.

Protection for wild horses in the United States was originally mandated under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act in response to the shootings of hundreds of thousands of horses and burros and the slaughter of horses for pet food and human consumption in Europe.

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