Exclusive: Wild Horse and Wild Burro Good News and Bad News from Twin Peaks HMA

Exclusive report from “Grandma” Gregg, Environmental Researcher and Jesica Johnston, B.A., M.A in Biology and Environmental Planning

“The forage has grown back from last summer’s fire and there is an abundance of food…”

DSC06304_zps35963a14 (1)Last weekend several experienced wildlife observers with binoculars and long-distance camera lens thoroughly combed 77 miles of the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA) and found only 27 wild horses and 5 wild burros.  Is this good news or bad news?  This is good news for those few wild horses and burros that remain on their legally designated land, but bad news for the Twin Peaks HMA as a whole.  The forage has grown back from last summer’s fire and there is an abundance of food as was obvious by the condition of the few vigorous and healthy wild horses and burros that were observed, but this is still a small and discouraging number of wild horses and burros. This survey is consistent with previous surveys and documentation supporting the impacts of an enormous and devastating roundup in 2010. There seems to be few remaining wild horses and burros in the Twin Peaks HMA. In our two days of ground observation the BLM’s mantra of the term “excess” was on our minds as we traveled numerous miles; most of which had no wild horses or burros or even signs of wild horses and burros.  This public land is set aside by Congress principally for wild horses and burros, but there are very few that remain since the roundup of 2010.  It is hard to believe when the BLM says there are 1,750 out here again…

Click (HERE) for the entire independent observers’ summary report and many photos.

There has been no further official round-up announcement for Twin Peaks since last fall’s after the Rush Fire Environmental Assessment was published by BLM stating that they were going to capture and remove all but about six-hundred wild horses and burros. It is unknown at this time when this capture has been rescheduled for but in the meantime BLM did an aerial population survey in April of this year and stated there were 1,750 wild horses and burros on the Twin Peaks HMA.  This data was FOIA’d and although that number was written on the aerial log, they only photographed 460. They had two photographers in the helicopter and per their map a very thorough coverage of the HMA was done, but they only physically photographed 460 wild horses and burros.  Even though we paid with our tax money for four BLM employees and the cost of the helicopter to document the actual population of wild horses and burros … they did not. Over the four days in flight only 26% of the wild horses and burros that were “counted” were photographed.

In fact there were far more photos taken of coyotes, elk, antelope, and other landscape features than of wild horses and burros. Although there was ample opportunity, this left 1.290 wild horses and burros that they “counted” undocumented with photos during the census flight.  Why? The aerial census over the four days clearly fails to sufficiently document BLM’s stated wild horse and burro population.

In the meantime, this Thursday will be an important day for the future of the Twin Peaks HMA and all wild horses and burros. This is the first time in the history of the Wild Horse Act that an Appeals Court will determine whether the BLM’s interpretation of the Act is consistent with Congress’s intent to protect these living symbols of the West over 40 years ago.

The 2010 Twin Peaks roundup resulted in the permanent removal of more than 1,500 wild horses and 160 burros from the range. As of August 2012, 977 of the wild horses and burros removed from the range were still in “holding” and hundreds more have died or been sold by BLM to “questionable” buyers and they cannot be accounted for. The BLM failed to consider data regarding ecological resources in the herd management area, and also illegally harassed and captured horses that were not even considered “excess” by BLM’s own standards. Don’t miss this important hearing – please fill the courtroom and show your support for the Twin Peaks wild horses and burros. They need you there…

What: Appeal Hearing for the Twin Peaks Wild Horses and Burros
When:  Thursday, August 29, 2 pm – please arrive no later than 1:30 pm
Where:  Ninth Circuit Courthouse, 125 South Grand Ave., Pasadena

Click (HERE) to download complete report

Revival of Horse Slaughter to Cost Taxpayers

Horse Slaughter Plants Come with Hefty Price Tag

Photo by Terry Fitch

Last week while you weren’t looking Congress and the president did something the vast majority of Americans oppose. The president signed an omnibus-spending bill approved by Congress that makes it legal to slaughter horses in the United States once again. Polls show more than 70 percent of Americans oppose horse slaughter and few if any eat horse meat. Given the fact we are divided politically by a gap the size of the Grand Canyon, recognize that a 70 percent majority is an unheard of amount of backing.

But wait, it gets worse. The reintroduction of horse slaughter plants in the United States comes with a hefty price tag, much of which goes to line the pockets of people in other countries who own these dens of incalculable abuse. The way it works is that ever since 2005, there has been a section of the Agriculture appropriations bill that de-funds (to wit, bars the expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars on) a program for the USDA to inspect foreign-owned horse plants. Now that the de-funding law has been deleted, supporters of the grisly, completely inhumane process of horse slaughter will go back to lobbying Congress for millions of dollars annually to run the inspection program. Without inspection, it is illegal to transport horsemeat across state lines. Once they succeed, horse slaughter will resume here.

Let’s forget for the moment that candidate Barack Obama in 2008 pledged to keep the ban on horse slaughter permanent (another promise to voters reneged?) Let’s forget, too, that American horses are not bred or raised for consumption. Let’s forget that the few countries where horsemeat is consumed (France, Belgium and Japan among them) are ignoring the outright cruelty to horses that raises the hackles of right-thinking Americans. The simple question is: do we want our tax dollars spent to inspect horses who were slaughtered in incredibly cruel fashion (a bolt through the forehead that doesn’t kill them immediately) so foreign owners of slaughter plants can profit? In the midst of a recession when other crucial programs such as Medicare and education are suffering deep cuts, the answer is a resounding, “no.”

Supporters of horse slaughter say the reintroduction of slaughter plants in the U.S. will create jobs. An article in the Desert Independent in Blythe, Calif., this month noted, “Horse slaughter plants operating until 2007…never created a total of more than 178 jobs.” The kind of jobs they do create are of dubious economic value to the individuals who take them and to the communities where slaughter plants are located.

The Independent quotes Paula Bacon, former mayor of Kaufman, Texas, where a horse slaughter facility operated for years as saying, “Horse slaughter means very few, very low wage jobs, meaning workers and their families overtaxed local resources like the hospitals and government services. This so called business brought in virtually no tax revenues and local governments incurred substantial enforcement costs in trying to regulate these facilities. The standard of living dropped during the time horse slaughter facilities operated. Having a horse slaughter facility drove away good businesses.”

Studies have shown that when slaughter plants are opened in rural areas, violent crime quickly rises. Think about it. Horses are sometimes cut into pieces while still alive and screaming. What kind of person would accept the minimum wage to engage in this horrific behavior? The question answers itself.

Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., sponsored the de-funding amendment in the House version of the Agriculture Appropriations bill. He said he regrets voting for the overall bill (which did not include the de-funding language) but felt compelled to do so, to keep the government operating. He said the only alternative is to assure passage of a permanent ban on horse slaughter, which he and other compassionate members of Congress are working to do. Let’s wish them success.

(Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and writes this column for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail bonnieerbe(at)CompuServe.com.)

Click (HERE) to Read Bonnie’s Article and Comment

Congressional Conference Committee Appropriations Bill Would Require Taxpayers to Subsidize Foreign Horse Meat Industry

Equine welfare organizations denounce the agricultural  appropriations bill that if passed, would make equine slaughter for human consumption legal again in the US  and dump horsemeat that is unfit and unsafe on foreign markets

Washington, D.C. – Last night, November 14, 2011, a Congressional Conference Committee tasked with reconciling differing House and Senate versions of the FY 2012 consolidated appropriations for Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science and Transportation, issued a report failing to recommend de-funding of inspections of equines for slaughter for human consumption. This means for the first time since 2006, and in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression, Americans would be required to subsidize a foreign owned industry that exports horsemeat served as a delicacy in fine restaurants in some European and other countries.

Americans don’t consume horsemeat. Polls have consistently revealed over 70% of Americans oppose horse slaughter. “It is outrageous,” says Vicki Tobin, vice president of Illinois-based Equine Welfare Alliance, “that American taxpayers would be required to subsidize foreign owned businesses that Americans oppose and that produces meat from animals that are not raised for food”.

Simone Netherlands, founder of Respect4Horses, added, “In this time when the focus of Congress is supposedly on reducing spending and creating jobs it is a ludicrous measure to spend tax dollars in order to reinstate an inherently cruel predatory business, from which Americans stand to gain nothing. Horse slaughter plants operating until 2007 have never created a total of more than 178 jobs.”

And, they are not good jobs, according to Paula Bacon, former mayor of Kaufman, Texas where a horse slaughter facility operated for years. “Horse slaughter means very few, very low wage jobs, meaning workers and their families overtaxed local resources like the hospitals and government services. This so called business brought in virtually no tax revenues and local governments incurred substantial enforcement costs in trying to regulate these facilities. The standard of living dropped during the time horse slaughter facilities operated. Having a horse slaughter facility drove away good businesses.” Equine slaughter has also been found to increase and abet horse theft in areas where facilities are located or horses are held for transport to slaughter.

In addition, American horses are not raised, fed and medicated within the FDA and European Union guidelines established for food animals, making them unfit and unsafe for human consumption. Equines are given many drugs banned in food animals such as pain killers, steroids, de-wormers and ointments throughout their lives.

A 2010 study in the Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal showed a drug given routinely to equines like aspirin, phenylbutazone or Bute, is a carcinogen and can cause aplastic anemia in humans. It has no withdrawal period. The FDA bans bute in all food producing animals because of this serious danger to human health. The recent EU FVO reports on U.S. equines exported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter show banned drug residues and falsified drug affidavits. (http://www.equinewelfarealliance.org/Horse_Slaughter.html)

The unsubstantiated claims of pro horse slaughter legislators such as Jack Kingston (Georgia) are that it will solve neglect and abandonment. All we have to do is look at Canada to confirm that this erroneous. They have had the same increases in neglect cases as we have here in the US. The often talked about GAO report states: We cannot rule out the effect of the economy. The demographic of people who hang on to their horses in spite of their inability to care for them, is the kind of demographic that does not want to send their horses to slaughter, therefore horse slaughter is not a solution for that demographic. One could argue that horse slaughter in fact makes people afraid to sell their horses to anyone for fear of them ending up in the slaughter pipeline. Even Kentucky Derby winners such as Ferdinand have ended up on someone’s dinner plate in a foreign country.

“In fact, it creates the problems it claims to solve,” says R.T. Fitch, co-founder and President of Wild Horse Freedom Federation “As a convenient and lucrative means of disposal, Horse slaughter has created an over-population problem of horses, by enabling irresponsible breeding, and encouraging a quick turn around and dumping of horses. Very much like the housing market and the banking industry, the horse breeding industry is self destructing by saturating the market and horse slaughter is the bail out”.

Equine Slaughter is a grave risk to public health, it is inherently inhumane and it causes the very problems it claims to solve. It is fiscally irresponsible for Congress even to consider re-funding these inspections.  The focus should be on stopping the risk altogether by ending the export of American equines for slaughter for human consumption.

“After all, there is a large market for dog and cat meat as well in China and Japan, does that mean that American tax payers should foot the bill to pay for the USDA to start inspecting dog and cat meat?” asks Richard “Kudo” Couto, founder of Animal Recovery Mission.

These equine welfare groups ask Congress to de-fund horse inspections and also protect the welfare of American equines by taking immediate action to pass the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011:

Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA)

Respect4Horses (R4H)

Animal Law Coalition (ALC)

Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF)

The Cloud Foundation (TCF)

Animal Recovery Mission (ARM)

Americans Against Horse Slaughter (AAHS)

The Celebrate the Horse Network  (CTHN)

Animals’ Angels (AA)

 

Independent Report Details BLM’s Failed Math in Mismanaging Wild Horse and Burro Program

Report compiled by Cindy MacDonald, Carla Bowers and Leslie Peeples

House Increases Funding For Failed Program Riddled With Controversy –
Senate Poised To Seal The Deal – Can They Be Swayed?

The out-of-control direction the BLM is taking the Wild Horse & Burro Program spells the imminent extinction of America’s wild and free-roaming iconic herds in the West.

The Senate will vote sometime this week or next on whether to approve the House appropriations bill to increase funding for the DOI/BLM Wild Horse & Burro Program. If Congress wants to reduce spending, it can be done here and now. The requested additional $12M can be eliminated immediately and the $18M costs for FY11 roundups and processing can be redirected to actual reform of this acknowledged broken Program.

In July 2010, Congress members sent a letter urging the BLM to refrain from any further
action or roundups until the Program failings were remedied and a clear new plan was in
place. Yet last week, the House did an about face and awarded the BLM an additional $12M through a Continuing Resolution (CR). According to the GAO, the BLM WH&B Program has been moving in a fiscally unsustainable direction and yet, this Program was one of the few awarded a full funding increase. Additional provisions were slipped in the bill that will have long-term detrimental impacts on the herds and will be very difficult to reverse if enacted.

Though the WH&B Program has been widely acknowledged as reaching critical levels of concern, curiously the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies failed to meet and mark up the FY11 DOI Budget Bill in 2010, according to public records and inquiries of staff. Thus, the WH&B Program was never even discussed.

Historically, reports on the Program have been government-generated and influenced, have consistently whitewashed the issues and have misled Congress, the most recent being the “Independent Designated Observer Pilot Program Final Report October 2010” and the “DOI OIG Report on the BLM WH&B Program, C-IS-BLM-0018-2010 December 2010”.

To offset the obvious lack of credible checks and balances or oversight of the Program, an independent Report to Congress was recently released in late November 2010. This Report exposes the blatant misrepresentations and deceptions occurring within the DOI/BLM WH&B Program utilizing the BLM’s own documents and data. The Report is meant to truthfully inform Congress about the gross discrepancies uncovered before the Senate commits to further funding that perpetuates the ongoing abuses within the Program.

Refer to Report to Congress: “Refuting FY2011 Budget Justifications & Request to Defund
Roundups & Removals Through Appropriations For FY2011 & FY2012

Click (HERE) to Download Report

How Did We Ever Get Here?

Guest Op-Ed by Vicki Tobin ~ Vice President of The Equine Welfare Alliance

The famous words of Mahatma Gandhi ring truer today than ever before. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Where it all began, pre-BLMThroughout US history we have progressed and prospered as a nation. Until now. We seem to have forgotten our roots and are moving backwards. We have forgotten the basics of life and how we became a leading nation. One of the most visible declines in our country is our treatment of animals, in particular, our equines.

We have organizations that claim to be for horse welfare and then take their tax deductible donations to lobby (excuse me, their websites claim that they educate legislators) for the demise of horses. It wasn’t enough with the domestic horses but now they want to slaughter the wild horses. They want to slaughter our American heritage.

Mr. Salazar and Mr. Abbey, we are paying your salary. Without our tax dollars, you wouldn’t be employed. That makes you employees of the taxpayers. Since when do employees not have to answer to their employers? Our tax dollars fund the wild horse and burro program. The wild horses are owned by the American people. We pay for them and we deserve to be heard and listened to.

Why are all the round-ups now being conducted on private land? We are paying for the round-ups and should be able to observe our tax dollars at work. We already foot the bill for over two hundred millions of acres of public land so why are you wasting more of our money by using private land? What don’t you want us to see?

The tax paying American citizens passed a law in 1971 that states you are to manage the wild horses and burros, not exterminate them. We do not want our tax dollars going to a PR firm that is trying to make you look warm and fuzzy while you are removing horses by the thousands. We are not paying your salaries so you can give us bogus numbers that change every time you speak. We want accurate reports. We want numbers that can be validated.  If you can’t do that, don’t you think it’s time to put on the brakes until you can?

We pay hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize livestock grazing on public lands. And yet, when we ask for the number of livestock vs. horses in the herd areas, we are given dozens of websites to click through, told to call individual local offices and can never find the information. Why isn’t there a map that depicts every herd area, the number of the wildlife and the number of livestock? If you don’t have that at your fingertips, how are you managing the ranges?

Even if we accept your numbers that keep changing of anywhere between 32,000 – 38,000 horses still on the range, help us understand how that is over populated compared to millions of livestock? If the ranges can’t sustain the horses, how can it sustain millions of livestock?

Sorro, only days old and neglected by BLM after Calico death roundup - Sorro destroyed by BLM ~ Photo by Laura Leigh

How did you arrive at 2 deaths at Calico? You reported 7 deaths at the trap site, 39 aborted foals, 111 at the facility and 3 foals (that we know of) that were lost when the mares had to be euthanized giving birth. On my calculator that totals to 160.

The BLM claimed at the last meeting that the livestock fees don’t cover the cost of EISs and blamed Congress for setting the fees. Are you trying to tell us that Congress just pulls a number out of the air without input from the DOI and BLM?

Why is it that you begged Congress for more money for horses in holding pens and then used it to remove more horses but you can’t ask for an increase in fees so you can assess the ranges before renewing or issuing new livestock leases?

We are asked for input and then ignored. Thousands and thousands of comments and always the same answer; no impact. Equine advocates have been screaming for years to appoint someone to the board that is not biased and knowledgeable on wild horses. And what do you do, appoint more cattle ranchers. We get the message. We understand a middle finger salute when we see one.

The final straw was inviting a state representative to the December meeting that is an embarrassment to this country. We are fighting for the survival of America’s wild horses and burros and you invite someone that wants to slaughter anything with four legs that moves. Even the moderator couldn’t stop her rambling at the last meeting. We are not going to allow our heritage to be destroyed and eaten.

How did we get here and what has happened to our country?

What an embarrassment that Canada had to introduce legislation to ban horse slaughter for human consumption because our government continues to let horses flow over the borders that are not safe for human consumption. Why is our government allowing foreign industries to slaughter our non-food animals?

Change? Change? We don't need no stinkin change!

Our horses are not raised as food animals. We have no tracking system and no way to remove horses that have received prohibited substances. What a message we are sending to the rest of the world on consumer food safety because of the few that refuse to take responsibility for their equines and a government that won’t take action.

I would like to thank you and the state representative for one thing, you have united equine advocates as we have never been before. We are going to continue our fight to end horse slaughter and to reinstate protections for our wild horses and burros.

Animal advocates from across the country rallied behind Obama and a new government. Change. Oh, we got change alright but not what we expected…

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Lobby Group Will Urge Congress to Fund Export of Tainted Horse Meat

Urgent Press Release from The Equine Welfare Alliance

CHICAGO, (EWA) – The National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) has passed a resolution calling for the reinstatement of USDA inspectors for horse meat.

The NCSL is a non-governmental lobbyist organization which serves the nation’s 50 states legislators to advocate and lobby for the interests of states before Congress and federal agencies. The resolutions NCSL passes are not binding and merely allow them to lobby on behalf of the states.

Representative Sue Wallis (WY) who is vice chair of the NCSL’s Agriculture and Energy Committee, went on record asking that she be allowed to slaughter horses to feed Wyoming children, the poor and prison inmates without having the meat federally inspected for consumer safety. The Wyoming livestock board responded quickly by stating in no uncertain terms that “horse slaughter is not an option.”

The Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) strongly opposes the misuse of tax payer dollars to fund inspections for an industry that is not needed or wanted by the overwhelming majority of Americans.

US horses are not raised as food animals and as such, receive numerous substances on a routine basis that are prohibited for use in food animals. Our country does not track horses and has no mechanism to remove horses from the food chain that have received prohibited substances.

Horse owners were vehemently opposed last year at an attempt to implement NAIS, a national tracking system. Considering that less than two percent of the horse population ends up on slaughter trucks and represents only three cents on every $100 earned by the horse industry, the cost of implementing a national tracking system to accommodate an insignificant percentage of horses makes absolutely no fiscal sense.

In the NCSL release, as with most pro horse slaughter communications, there is no mention of the known drug issue in American horses. “It is a travesty that legislators would even consider reinstating inspections knowing that there is no way to guarantee consumer food safety” said EWA’s Valerie James-Patton.

A recent survey of horse owners by the publication, The Horse, revealed that 96% of horse owners give their horses at least one of the banned substances on a regular basis. A peer reviewed scientific study by Drs. Marini, Dodman and Blondeau that was published in the scientific journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology, revealed 100% of the slaughtered Thoroughbreds traced in the study had received the carcinogen phenylbutazone. It should be noted that these tainted horses were shipped to the European Union for human consumption while the USDA was supposedly inspecting the horse meat. Another study in CA of Thoroughbreds revealed a 99% usage.

“Instead of wasting valuable legislator’s time on this nonsense,” commented EWA’s Vicki Tobin, “a better use of time and donations by these pro horse slaughter groups would be to address why excess horses continue to be produced every year and start working on solutions. Continuing to slaughter the victims of irresponsible breeders and owners, is only going to perpetuate the problem, not correct it.”

Equine Welfare Alliance is a dues free, umbrella organization with over 120 member organizations. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild equids.

www.equinewelfarealliance.

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) adopts new policy resolution calling for USDA inspection of horse meat.

The policy resolution was passed at the annual Legislative Summit held in Louisville, Kentucky on July 25-28, 2010. The policy was first reviewed and passed by the Agriculture and Energy Committee, and then passed at the Business Meeting of the 45 states in attendance. Policies which receive a super majority vote of more than 3/4 of the states attending give NCSL staff in Washington, D.C. the authority to lobby Congress on behalf of the position of the states.

USDA ante-and post mortem inspections are mandatory if an animal is to be sold as meat, and the animal must be slaughtered in a USDA-inspected facility. Federal appropriations law contains a prohibition on allowing federal dollars to be spent on salaries for inspectors who inspect horses before or after slaughter, making it impossible for operations that want to process horse meat within their borders to market this meat. Inspectors also cannot respond to a voluntary, fee-based inspection request to inspect horse meat. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) believes that these provisions unduly restrict states’ action regarding horse slaughtering facilities within their borders. Therefore, NCSL calls upon Congress to remove these restrictions in existing law, and not insert similar provisions in subsequent appropriations bills or other legislative vehicles.

The closing of horse slaughter facilities in America has decimated the equine industry, and has curtailed the ability of states and tribes to control the numbers of excess and abandoned horses on their lands. Documented reports indicate an increase of 400% in the number of starved, abandoned, and neglected horses between 2008 and 2009 alone. This has resulted in unprecedented state budget increases and taxpayer costs at a time when states cannot afford unnecessary expense. It has severely impacted the livestock industry as a whole, and by eliminating the salvage value of horses has significantly reduced the market value of all horses. The loss of markets for horse meat for pet food, for the maintenance of zoo animals, and for byproducts has greatly impacted these sectors. The loss of horse products for export has eliminated more than

$42 million dollars of direct income for an already struggling sector of the livestock industry, not to mention millions of dollars in indirect costs because of the loss of value of individual animals. Given the current state of the horse processing industry, it is particularly important that the federal government not restrict access to inspection.

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New Letter Calling on Salazar to Stop the Roundups

Thanks to The Cloud Foundation for this release

Wild horse and burro champions, Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV), are currently circulating a letter that will be sent to Secretary Salazar with a cc to BLM Director, Bob Abbey.

Please take time today to ask your Congress person to sign on to this letter and show their support for protecting wild horses and burros on our public lands. Take this opportunity to contact your Congress person- the public’s voices must be heard and Secretary Salazar needs to place an immediate moratorium on roundups and removals of our wild horses! However, please do not contact Congressman Grijalva or Rahall or the House Natural Resources Committee (except to send letters or emails of support).

Find your Congress person’s contact information at votesmart.org. Currently this letter is only being circulated in the House but ask your Senators to start a letter on the Senate side as well.

The following email is being circulated:

Dear Colleague,

We invite you to join us in sending the attached letter to Secretary of the Interior Salazar on the recent tragic deaths of wild horses that occurred during Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Tuscarora Complex roundup in Nevada early this month.  The roundup occurred in extreme temperatures, using deeply flawed methods, and was conducted without allowing any public observation. This comes just months after another round up in the Calico Mountains in Nevada resulted in the deaths of over 100 wild horses.

Given this troubling pattern, the letter asks the Secretary to halt the Tuscarora round up, along with any pending gathers, until the BLM can demonstrates that it has addressed the failings of the Wild Horse and Burro Program and can ensure the health and safety of these federally protected animals.  It further asks the Secretary to take temperature extremes and the age and general health of the horses into consideration when scheduling roundups, as well as allow for public observation.  Additionally, we ask the Secretary to request an independent study from the National Academy of Sciences on the Wild Horse and Burro program – to determine scientifically sound, non-lethal, and effective management practices.

To sign on to the letter please contact Laurel Angell in Chairman Rahall’s office or Marcos Huerta with Chairman Grijalva.

Nick J. Rahall, II
Chairman
Committee on Natural Resources
Raúl M. Grijalva
Chairman
Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands

DOWNLOAD THE LETTER CIRCULATING NOW– This strong letter speaks for the majority of the American Public- thank you to Congressman Grijalva and Rahall!

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The Equine Welfare Alliance Takes AVMA to Task for Misleading Public

Letter faxed to the  American Veterinary Medical Association by the Equine Welfare Alliance on 05/17/2010

 

To: American Veterinary Medical Association                                                                  

We are writing to you today on behalf of the Equine Welfare Alliance and its members regarding your article in the JAVMA entitled, Mexico, Canada increase horse slaughter production [http://www.avma. org/onlnews/ javma/may10/ 100515o.asp].

While we realize the article is drafted to support AVMA’s pro-slaughter position, the blatantly erroneous information and omission of pertinent information by a veterinary association is disconcerting.

Your article begins with: The number of U.S. horses slaughtered in North America has dropped nearly 40 percent since its peak in 2007, which is incorrect. The peak year for horses slaughtered was 1990 at 419,133, broken down as follows:

US 345,200

Mexico 3,435

Canada 70,498

The data from the years 2000-2009 shows the peak year was 2006 while 2008, the year following the closure of the U.S. plants, was the next highest. The average number of US horses slaughtered annually increased 13% after the plants closed. Whether you look at horses slaughtered from 1990- 2009 or 2000-2009, there was not a decrease of 40%, and, in fact, the latter data reflects an increase. The closing of the U.S. plants did not cause a drop in the number of horses slaughtered.

Also, by the end of 2009, during the worldwide economic collapse, horse meat exports from Canada were down 20% and from Mexico, down 19%. Surely, it is obvious that the reason the number of horses slaughtered decreased in 2009 was due to the decline in the demand for horse meat. The facilities slaughter only the number of horses required to fill the demand for horse meat and not the number of available horses. Most significant is that although the statistic for the numbers of US horses slaughtered decreased in 2009, unchanged is the fact that the option for US owners to send horses to slaughter has always remained and currently still is just as available as it was during the time the US slaughter facilities were operating, even when none of them were operating at full capacity levels.

The article continues with this statement in reference to 2007: “the last year horses were processed in the United States after a federal district court ordered the Department of Agriculture to stop inspecting horse slaughter facilities.” 

The horses are actually slaughtered. Why not say the word instead of using the euphemism “processed”? Also, it was Congress in 2006 that de-funded or stopped the ante-mortem inspections of horses in the Agriculture Appropriations Act of 2006 that was signed by Pres. George W. Bush. This meant horses could no longer be slaughtered for human consumption in the U.S. A federal court in 2007 simply found the USDA was in violation of the law in permitting these inspections under a “fee for service” rule. Horse slaughter for human consumption was shut down in the U.S. in 2007 by Congress and the President as well as the federal court. The plant in Illinois was allowed to operate under a stay while it appealed to the Supreme Court. In May of 2007, the state of Illinois passed a law making horse slaughter illegal and the federal courts upheld the law and the plant closed in September, 2007.

Another federal court upheld a Texas law banning horse slaughter, closing the 2 facilities that operated in that state in 2007.  

Despite the strong statement by the President, Congress, federal courts and individual states to shut down the horse slaughter industry, plants shifted their business over the borders.

The article further points out nine states that have introduced and considered legislation, but what about the numerous states that have rejected this legislation or actually prohibit horse slaughter?

There is no mention of Tennessee bill HB 1428 that has been tabled pending “summer study” or that Montana’s plan to build a plant in Hardin is now withdrawn resulting from an ordinance that was amended that prohibits the slaughter of more than 10 animals in a 7 day period.

HB 4812 in Illinois was withdrawn. IL Representative, John Fritchey has also introduced nonbinding legislation to support the federal legislation to ban horse slaughter.

AVMA has claimed that the most common and preferred method of choice to end a horse’s life is by humane euthanasia administered by a veterinarian. AVMA continues, however, to state that the captive bolt gun previously used in the US horse slaughter facilities is listed as acceptable and humane even though the AVMA is aware that their own requirement of the horse’s head being restrained is not possible and not implemented at slaughter plants. The study that deemed the captive bolt gun acceptable was performed in a controlled environment by veterinarians for veterinarians. It is a gross misuse of that study to claim the findings would even be remotely the same in a horse slaughter facility environment where the horses are terrified and extremely stressed, workers are unskilled, and the horses’ heads are not restrained and where hundreds of horses are slaughtered per day.

The outrageous cruelty of horse slaughter that was recently exposed by documented information and video from undercover investigations caused outrage in Europe.  European consumers realized they had been misled by a disinformation campaign waged by slaughter proponents that told them the horses they had been consuming did not suffer or die inhumanely and that the meat was free of medications and nutritious. Investigations in Canada, Mexico and South America have damaged this consumer confidence. The second largest grocer in Belgium has removed US horse meat from its shelves. A major distributor has assured its customers that they will only sell European horse meat. Two major slaughter plants in Canada are under investigation by government agencies.

The same food safety and humane issues have been documented in investigations of the US plants over the past decade, and also, hundreds of pictures of horrible cruelty violations against horses in transport to slaughter were revealed through a USDA FOIA. It’s beyond comprehension that the AVMA could view any of the information from investigations and FOIAs and still claim horse slaughter and anything associated with it, is acceptable and humane. AVMA’s voice to support horse slaughter has helped keep the slaughter pipeline open ensuring the brutal and cruel death of thousands of horses will continue.

Is the AVMA aware of new EU regulations that will prohibit the vast majority of US horses from going to slaughter? Your members write the prescriptions for horse medication so are certainly aware that almost all are labeled “not intended for food animals”. Surely, they are aware that US horses are not safe for human consumption.

US horses are not bred or raised as food animals. With the absence of a passport system or health certificates, there is no way to determine if a horse has received a substance that is prohibited by the FDA and EU in food animals and there are no mechanisms to remove horses that have received banned substances from the slaughter pipeline. Thus, horsemeat derived from American horses sent to slaughter for human consumption is likely contaminated.

In view of the cruelty to horses and danger to the public, how does AVMA continue to support this seedy, long outmoded practice, a stance that must be in violation of the Veterinarian’s Oath to promote public health to “protection …animal health, … relieve… animal suffering, [and] the promotion of public health”?

If you have not already reviewed this scientific paper, Association of phenylbutazone usage with horses bought for slaughter: A public health risk, written by Drs. Nicholas Dodman, Nicolas Blondeau and Ann M. Marini that was published in the peer reviewed journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology, a copy follows this letter.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. We hope to see a corrected future article as well as articles that address these issues.

Also, Vicki Tobin is an Illinois resident in your area and would be more than happy to meet with you to discuss this further.

Statements from Veterinarians

“Why would the AAEP and AVMA support such an industry? Have they considered the inevitable suffering that the current situation brings about as opposed to the hypothetical suffering that these horses endure if they live?”- Nicholas H. Dodman, DVM, Diplomate ACVA and ACVB

“From the time a horse is picked up by the killer buyer he is meat on the hoof, and that is the way he is treated. In a journey which can take days, or occasionally weeks, he is jammed into trucks, often where he cannot even stand, and left to fend for himself among a load of other terrified horses. Some of these horses actually have fractures and are in great pain. USDA regulations state that they can go 28 hours without food and water (bad enough) and even this is unenforceable. When the horse reaches the slaughterhouse, death is by captive bolt, and if anyone thinks this always works the first time, we have a film they should see. As a veterinarian I realize the inevitability of euthanasia in certain cases, but to equate the slaughter process with humane euthanasia is the height of hypocrisy.”- John K. Griggs, DVM

“As a veterinarian, I believe that it is my responsibility to treat all of my patients in a humane manner. Looking at the condition of slaughter-bound horses in the videos and photographs taken by journalists, investigators and welfare personnel (over many years), I could never explain to a client or to a child what is humane about their transport, and I would certainly never recommend this avenue of disposing of a horse to a client. If I cannot support these practices to my clients as being humane, how can I stand up as a professional and present them to the public as such?”- Nena J. Winand, DVM, PhD

“I would like to impress upon you that the AVMA and AAEP may represent me by profession, but they do not represent me on this issue and until they can show you polling of their membership reflecting it, please do not believe that their governing bodies represent the views of the people they claim to either. Accordingly, I urge you to support HR 503 in any and every way you can!!!! Thank You!!!!”- Kerry Zeigler, VMD

Affidavit to Members of Congress:

February 29, 2008

Lester Friedlander, DVM

“Distinguished Members of Congress, my name is Dr. Lester Friedlander and I am a former USDA Veterinarian. I am refuting the testimony of Dr. Bonnie Beaver, DVM, that the captive bolt is a humane procedure of euthanasia for horses. The captive bolt does not meet the humane method of slaughter, as described in the 1958 “Humane Slaughter Act.” Head restraints are not used in the slaughter of horses and therefore do not comply with the Statue. The captive bolt is used in cattle, due to the fact the cow’s brain is more anterior than the horse’s brain and the penetration of the bolt is more effective. Horses are not, and cannot be restrained, during horse slaughter. I have seen several video tapes of horse slaughter where the horses have to be struck with the captive bolt several times. No head restraints were used; to do so would cause these flight animals to break their necks. During these multiple times of striking the horses head with the captive bolt, the horses are in pain and suffering. It is important to know that the captive bolt does not kill the horse, nor was it ever intended to. The horse must be exsanguinated to be suitable for human consumption. As the captive bolt is not a proper instrument for the slaughter of equids, and these animals regain consciousness thirty seconds after being struck, they are fully aware they are vivisected. Ergo, the use of the captive bolt for equids is a violation of the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958. I ask you to support HR 503 and S 311 in the best interest of horses”~Lester Friedlander, DVM

The Veterinarians for Equine Welfare White Paper on the Captive Bolt can be found at

http://www.vetsforequinewelfare.org/white_paper.php

Corrected Links for the scientific paper, Association of phenylbutazone usage with horses bought for slaughter: A public health risk

Page 1, first link has been moved on the FDA website. The corrected link is

http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/NewsEvents/CVMUpdates/ucm124078.htm

Page 3, the first link has been corrected to (a hyphen was missing in the published paper)

http://www.ats-sea.agr.gc.ca/stats/5034x-eng.pdf

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EWA Chair Calls BLM Handling of DC Protestors Heavy Handed

by John Holland, EWA President – Reprint from “Horseback Magazine

EWA President John Holland - Photo by Terry Fitch

WASHINGTON, (EWA) – The demonstration was great, but you really got the feeling of being in a dictatorship! Much of this might be because of the recent anti-health care bill demonstrations and threats, but I have not felt this atmosphere since the 60s.

A guy came around us, climbed the stairs and stood at the top with the armed guards and used a zoom lens to take photos of all of us individually. Funny thing was that one of the guards thought he was with us and tried to throw him off the steps because we were not allowed to touch a single step. Another of the other guards stopped the first guard. It just shows what a stupid bunch we are dealing with. I just couldn’t help thinking about the Keystone Cops.

I especially loved it when they called out the mounted patrol on us. Many of us immediately migrated toward them. One of the horses was a huge gray that did not have a body shape we could identify. I asked his mount what breed it was and he ignored me. Only their leader would talk and he was less than hospitable. I was so tempted to say “I have been around horses all my life and never seen one before that had two anal sphincters” but discretion got the better of me.

I told him that if they were looking to intimidate us, they picked the wrong crowd! I said I face three times that many horses every morning for their feed. He said “We are not here to intimidate you.” So I figured that meant they must be have been there to do something more physical.

I used to marvel that I was able to roam the halls of Congress as freely as I was, but that is changing. It is get darker and more brooding every time I go. Reuters and AP were both there, so we should see more!

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