Horse News

California’s wild horses are under attack. Will we protect them from slaughter?

by Suzanne Roy as published on The Sacramento Bee

“The prospect that California mustangs could be sold for slaughter by the federal agency charged with protecting them has sparked widespread outrage…”

Twin Peaks Horses ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Many Western states, including California, are debating how to manage America’s wild horse and burro populations. On one side, you have powerful livestock interests that have long sought to get wild horses and burros off of public lands. These interests have repeatedly pushed roundups and widespread horse slaughter as a way to eliminate competition for cheap, taxpayer-subsidized grazing of their private livestock.

On the other side, are those of us who see these magnificent animals for what they are: cherished icons of the American West that have the right to be free and treated humanely.

While much of the debate across the West involves the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), here in California, the threat of wild horse slaughter is coming from the U.S. Forest Service. Unlike BLM, which manages most of the nation’s federally-protected wild horses, the Forest Service is not currently prohibited by law from selling wild horses for slaughter.

So when they rounded up nearly 1,000 horses from the Modoc National Forest last year and announced their intent to sell the captured mustangs without limitation on slaughter, the writing on the wall looked crystal clear. This year, the Forest Service is gearing up to remove more wild horses from Devil’s Garden, a 300,000-acre area home to California’s largest remaining wild horse herd.

The prospect that California mustangs could be sold for slaughter by the federal agency charged with protecting them has sparked widespread outrage from the public and political leaders. The U.S. House of Representatives recently sought to address this by passing an appropriations bill specifying that funding shall not be used for any sale of these animals by the BLM or the Forest Service resulting in their destruction.

Recently, more than two dozen members of California’s state Legislature, led by Assemblymen Todd Gloria, wrote to U.S. senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris urging them to fight for this language as it works through the U.S. Senate. So far, 64 members of Congress, 23 members of the California Legislature, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Feinstein herself have opposed the Forest Service’s sale-for-slaughter plan.

Additionally, polls show that 81 percent of Californians oppose horse slaughter and 80 percent of Americans want wild horses protected on public lands. But pro-slaughter interests continue to push forward.

While this fight continues at the federal level, Gloria has also introducedAssembly Bill 128to better protect wild and domestic horses in California from slaughter. Although the sale of horses for slaughterhas been illegal

in the state for 20 years, the law has not been enforced and California horses are routinely trafficked out of state, where they make their way to Canada or Mexico for slaughter.

AB 128 passed unanimously out of the state Assembly in May and was heard by the state Senate Judiciary Committee in July, where it passed by a vote of 7-1. It requires all purchasers of horses at auctions to sign a statement under penalty of perjury agreeing to comply with California’s anti-slaughter law. It also requires auctions to scan horses for microchips and post identifying information – including brands, tattoos and chip numbers – online, which is essential to tracking horses and rescuing them before they are sold into the slaughter pipeline.

AB 128 is a necessary step to protect all California horses from meeting the cruelest of fates. But long-term protection of the Devil’s Garden wild horses will take federal action. Sen. Feinstein has long been a champion for America’s horses and we’re counting on her leadership – with support from Sen. Harris – to uphold the will of the people to protect these iconic and cherished animals.

More than two decades ago, Californians made slaughtering horses for human consumption illegalin the state. Now, it’s time for California’s legislature and the U.S. Congress to make sure that pro-slaughter interests can’t use loopholes to enact their inhumane policies.

4 replies »

  1. The “gloves are off”
    There are WAY more people (voters) east of the Rockies and they have a huge stake in OUR public lands and wildlife. Some (or many) had no idea that they have an inheritance and that there are thieves willing to steal and pillage it..as they have been for decades.
    Christopher Ketcham expresses all of our collective concerns and outrage in his book and in this C-SPAN VIDEO
    This Land

    Journalist Christopher Ketcham reported talked about his book, This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism, and Corruption Are Ruining the American West, on past and current conflicts over public lands in the western United States. There is also audience participation..always interesting to listen to everyone’s point of view.

    THIS LAND: HOW COWBOYS, CAPITALISM and CORRUPTION ARE RUINING THE AMERICAN WEST
    Christopher Ketcham

    https://www.c-span.org/video/?462742-1/this-land

    Sample dialogue

    YOU HAVE PRETTY THOROUGHLY EXPLAINED THE BLM AND FOR SERVICE YOU MENTIONED YOU DON’T REALLY PROPOSE A SOLUTION HAVE YOU WITNESSED OR EXPERIENCED THE EFFECTIVE MEANS TO COUNTERACT THE NEGATIVE THINGS? WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN PEOPLE DO QUICK.

    Christopher Ketcham

    LAWSUITS. LAWSUITS WORK BECAUSE AGAIN THE KEY ISSUE TO BE A BLATANT VIOLATION OF FEDERAL LAW SO HE CAN HOLD THOSE AGENCIES ACCOUNTABLE AND MAKE THEM FOLLOW THE LAW AND REGULATE ON A LAWFUL i BASIS I WILL TELL YOU A QUICK STORY THE BLM BIOLOGIST FOR MANY YEARS TOLD ME A STORY ABOUT GOING INTO A MEETING WITH DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR LAWYERS AND A GROUP OF DISTRICT MANAGERS ACROSS THE WEST AND SAID WE KEEP LOSING THESE LAWSUITS WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WE CANNOT DEFEND THEM BECAUSE YOU VIOLATE THE LAW IN THE MANAGERS START LAUGHING AND SAY DON’T PAY US ENOUGH TO FOLLOW THE LAW FORGOT HAVE EVERY CONGRESSPERSON AND EVERY ELECTED OFFICIAL EVERY COUNTY COMMISSIONER ON MY ASS AND I WOULD BE FIRED. I WOULD BE OSTRACIZED FROM MY COMMUNITY AND MY REPUTATION WOULD BE SYSTEMATICALLY RUINED. SO THESE ARE THE MANAGERS IN RESPONSE TO THE CRISIS. WE WAIT FOR THE CONSERVATION GROUPS TO SUE US TO FORCE US TO FOLLOW THE LAW THEN WE CAN ACT WITHIN COVER AND BASICALLY ENFORCE THE LAW THEN TELL THE ELECTED OFFICIAL WE ARE NOT DOING IT THAT THE ENVIRONMENTALIST ARE FORCING US TO DO IT AND THAT IS HOW TWISTED THINGS HAVE GOTTEN THE ONLY WAY TO ENFORCE THE LAW IS OUR OWN FEDERAL REGULATORS FORCE THE SITUATION. THEY DON’T LIKE IT. THEY DON’T WANT IT THAT THEY ARE TRAPPED IN A SYSTEM OF PERVERSITY THAT DOES NOT ALLOW THEM TO EXPRESS THEIR LOVE OF THE LAND. [APPLAUSE] [INAUDIBLE CONVERSATIONS]

    Liked by 2 people

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