By Andrew Cohen as published in the Denver Post
“A poll conducted in 2012 indicated that 80 percent of the American people oppose the slaughter of American horses…”
Last week, a federal judge in New Mexico cleared the way for domestic slaughterhouse operators to again kill and render horses on American soil. Monday night, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver stayed that ruling, at least temporarily, so that it could evaluate whether the Obama Administration unlawfully permitted those operators to resume the brutal practice without first complying with all relevant environmental regulations.
The fight over horse slaughter in America, this latest legal battle reminds us, is decades old and ceaseless. But what is new to the grim equation today, six years after horse slaughter was halted here, is the presence of some 49,000 wild horses in long- and short-term government “holding facilities” in the Midwest and West. Over the past half decade or so, these federally protected horses have been removed from Western rangelands by the Bureau of Land Management, often at the request of ranchers and livestock agents, and placed into “federal custody” at great cost to the American taxpayer. There they now sit, utterly vulnerable to the market forces represented by those slaughterhouses.
Federal law is supposed to prohibit the slaughter of those horses. But the Interior Department has not always adequately enforced the prohibition. Last September, for example, Pro Publica published an exposé titled “All the Missing Horses” about the sale of hundreds of federally protected mustangs to a proponent of horse slaughter. Federal officials require all buyers to sign contacts saying they won’t “sell or transfer” the wild horses for slaughter, but there is virtually no enforcement mechanism beyond the requirement…CONTINUED