Hilary Wood, Pres. of Front Range Equine Rescue and Bruce Wagman (partner, Schiff Hardin law firm) on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 10/26/16)

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Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesdays®, Oct. 26, 2016

5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST … 7:00 pm CST … 8:00 pm EST

Listen to the archived show  (HERE!)

You can also listen to the show on your phone by calling (917) 388-4520.

You can call in with questions during the 2nd half hour, by dialing (917) 388-4520, then pressing 1.

This show will be archived so you can listen to it anytime.

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Hilary Wood is the President and Founder of Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER) and works as the Director of Programs and Operations.  Front Range Equine Rescue, founded in 1997, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working to prevent the abuse and neglect of horses through rescue and education.  In 2005, Front Range Equine Rescue launched its “Save the Wild Horses” campaign in direct response to the Burns Amendment.

Recently, Front Range Equine Rescue filed a lawsuit to stop the BLM’s plans to conduct surgical sterilization experiments on 225 wild horses, many in various stages of pregnancy, and potentially thousands of more horses over time.  FRER’s lawsuit contended that the BLM’s intended sterilizations would cause harm and suffering and were in violation of federal law.  Six weeks later, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management withdrew its program to perform experimental sterilization of wild mares in Oregon.

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Bruce Wagman is a partner with Schiff Hardin law firm in San Francisco, and has represented FRER in all of its legal horse work. Bruce has an almost exclusive animal law focus, involving litigation, education, legislative counseling, and consultation.  Bruce’s clients include numerous animal protection organizations and private individuals.  He is a co-editor of the casebook Animal Law, and coauthor of A Worldview of Animal Law.  He has been teaching Animal Law since 1996 and currently teaches at three Bay Area law schools.  In the past five years, Bruce has focused much of his time on issues involving wild horses, horse abuse cases, and the slaughter of American horses for food.

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This show will be hosted by R.T. Fitch, President of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

To contact us: ppj1@hush.com, or call 320-281-0585

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/marti-oakley/2016/10/27/whb-radio-hilary-wood-pres-of-front-range-equine-rescue-and-bruce-wagman

TO LISTEN TO ALL ARCHIVED WILD HORSE & BURRO RADIO SHOWS, CLICK HERE.

1/20/16 – Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation, on BLM’s plans to sterilize wild horse and burros. Listen HERE.

1/27/16 – Marjorie Farabee, Dir. of Wild Burro Affairs for Wild Horse Freedom Federation, on threats to shoot wild burros in Arizona. Listen HERE.

2/8/16 – Representatives of 4 major wild horse & burro advocacy groups and advocates speak out against BLM’s plans for barbaric sterilization experiments on wild mares. Listen HERE.

2/10/16 – Jonathan Ratner, Western Watersheds Project’s Director for Wyoming, Utah and Colorado, talks about the environmental toll of privately owned livestock grazing on public lands. Listen HERE.

2/24/16 – Kirsten Stade, Advocacy Director for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), on BLM’s skewed data minimizing the effects of livestock grazing on public lands. Listen HERE.

3/2/16 – Marjorie Farabee, Dir. of Wild Burro Affairs for Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Equine Mgr. of Todd Mission Ranch (TMR Rescue) & founder of Wild Burro Protection League, joined by local wild burro advocates fighting to save the wild burros of the Black Mountain Herd Management Area in Arizona. Listen HERE.

3/23/16 – Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation interviews Susan W. Watt, Executive Director, Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, located in South Dakota. Listen HERE.

5/4/16 – Gail A. Eisnitz, author of the book “Slaughterhouse” and Chief Investigator for the Humane Farming Association (HFA). Listen HERE.

6/22/16 – Charlotte Roe, Founder of Wild Equid League of Colorado, on BLM’s cruel experiments on wild horses and burros, including sterilization of pregnant wild mares, that are a launching pad for widespread use as “population suppression.” Listen HERE.

8/3/16 – Marjorie Farabee, Dir. of Wild Burro Affairs for Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Equine Mgr. of Todd Mission Ranch (TMR Rescue) & founder of Wild Burro Protection League with guests. Listen HERE.

8/10/16 – Gene Baur, Pres. & Co-Founder of Farm Sanctuary, on factory farming and the Farm Sanctuary. Listen HERE.

8/17/16 – Advocates Carla Bowers and Bonnie Kohleriter on why 83% of wild horse and burro herds are on the brink of collapse. Listen HERE.

8/31/16 – Steve Hindi (President and Founder) and Janet Enoch (Investigator) of SHowing Animals Respect & Kindness (SHARK) on rodeo cruelty and more. You can see all of SHARK’s rodeo exposés on YouTube by clicking here. Listen HERE.

9/7/16 – Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation , on BLM plans to remove all wild horses from three of the largest remaining herds in Wyoming. Listen HERE.

9/14/16 – Susan Wagner, Pres. & Founder of Equine Advocates, on how the upcoming Presidential election can affect the fate of wild and domestic equines and horse slaughter. PLEASE SIGN EQUINE ADVOCATES’ PETITION HERE. Listen HERE.

9/21/16 – Mae Lee Sun, co-author of “Brumby: A celebration of Australia’s wild horses” and Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist and the author of the book “The Wild Horse Conspiracy” on the culling of the brumbies (wild horses) of the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales. Listen HERE.

9/28/16 – Laird Lucas (Executive Director) and Talasi Brooks (Staff Attorney) of Advocates for the West, a public interest, nonprofit environmental law firm with an 85% record of legal success protecting the wildlife and wild places of the American West. Listen HERE.

10/5/16 – Marjorie Farabee, Dir. of Wild Burro Affairs for Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Equine Mgr. of Todd Mission Ranch (TMR Rescue) & founder of Wild Burro Protection League reports on the 2016 Donkey Welfare Symposium. Listen HERE.

10/12/16 – Nancy Watson, President of SAFE Food SAFE Horses Coalition, has been raising worldwide awareness to the loopholes in U.S. legislation that allows U.S. equines (horses, donkeys, mules and burros) which are laden with pharmaceuticals, into the global food supply. Listen HERE.

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Breaking News: Nonprofit Horse Rescue Group Challenges Inhumane Experimental Surgery

Source: Front Range Equine Rescue

Despite strong opposition, the Bureau of Land Management, (BLM), intends to move forward with gruesome and dangerous sterilization experiments on wild mares

HINES, Ore., July 26, 2016 – Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER), a national nonprofit working to end the abuse and neglect of horses through rescue, advocacy and education, announced today it is suing the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management to stop the BLM’s experimental sterilization of wild mares in Oregon. The lawsuit was filed late yesterday in federal court in Washington D.C.

Steens HMA wild horse family, about to be destroyed by BLM for experimental sterilizations ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Steens HMA wild horse family, about to be destroyed by BLM for experimental sterilizations ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

FRER’s suit contends the BLM’s intention to conduct surgical experiments on 225 wild horses, many in various stages of pregnancy, and potentially thousands more horses over time, causes harm and suffering in violation of federal law.
The sterilizations on wild mares proposed by the BLM, to be carried out in collaboration with Oregon State University, include three untested, dangerous procedures:

  • Slicing open the mare’s vagina while sedated, but awake and standing, and blindly pulling out her ovaries – a risky and controversial surgical procedure even for tame mares under the best of conditions, let alone captive wild horses in a holding facility
  • Burning and then cutting the sedated, but conscious horses’ fallopian tubes, a procedure that is surgically untested on horses
  • Using a laser, inserted through the vagina, to scar and seal the ovaries – another surgery that has never been studied in horses

“It is unjustifiable for the BLM to conduct such barbaric sterilization experiments with a host of known risks, including death, on captive wild horses,” said Hilary Wood, President of FRER. “Performing unproven surgeries in a holding pen, let alone on the open range, is contrary to the BLM’s congressional mandate to care for wild horses, especially when responsible alternatives like the PZP contraceptive vaccine already exist to maintain population levels and ensure herd viability.”

Earlier this year, FRER filed formal comments opposing the “research” that will be done on conscious animals in long-term holding. These comments – and comments submitted by more than 20,000 members of the public – were disregarded, prompting FRER to file its suit.

“These sterilization procedures are not documented, practiced, or analyzed in non-surgical settings; they are overly invasive, and they are unlikely to have applicability for mares on public lands,” said Laureen Bartfield, DVM, an expert in population control of wild horses and the social structure of herds. “Two of the three procedures have virtually never been performed on horses, and the unvisualized removal of the ovaries, while documented in the literature, is disfavored by reputable veterinarians. The BLM’s plan is not just clinically ill-advised, it constitutes animal cruelty on a large scale.”

The plans for eventual widespread sterilization of horses on the range will also run up an estimated cost to the taxpayers in the millions – and the first of the funds could be handed to OSU in the form of a BLM grant. This first group of mares to go under the knife are in BLM custody in the Hines Corral in Eastern Oregon.

FRER’s lawsuit says the experimental sterilizations represent a conflict of interest, and are not in the best interests of wild horses, but rather in the BLM’s own best interest by reducing their management load without considering their mandate to properly manage the horses.
This is not the first time the BLM has pursued surgical sterilization for wild horses. In 2011, a federal court found the bureau’s plans to castrate wild horses captured in Wyoming was of an “extreme and irreversible nature.” In 2012, the BLM was again forced to defend similar plans in federal court, and abandoned its efforts to castrate Nevada’s wild horses.

The grim reality facing these innocent wild mares includes

  • Invasive surgery performed in a non-sterile environment
  • No known studies on domestic mares for the tubal ligation procedure
  • No known studies on domestic or wild mares for the Hysteroscopically-guided laser ablation procedure
  • Procedures to be performed on wild mares in varying stages of pregnancy
  • Infection, hemorrhaging, colic signs, aborted foals, potential for abnormalities in foals born, and death “If any gestational group in any procedure meets a major complication rate greater than 20 percent” then the procedure will be stopped
  • Major complications leading to death or the need for euthanasia are “expected” to be less than 2 percent (225 mares are slated for the research; 25 in a control group; 200 divided up for the three procedures)
  • Wild mares will be frightened as they are separated from their herd mates They will be even more terrified when driven into a confined chute to be sedated and restrained for the surgery
  • Ovarian function plays a significant role in the endocrine (hormonal) system. To destroy this biological function will damage behavior and health of surviving mares

Update! Lawsuit Against BLM On Gruesome Wild Mare Sterilization

Equine Rescue Group 
Tries to Block 
Wild Horse Roundups

By Charles Ashby as published in The Daily Sentinel

“The BLM is intent on removing an entire herd, but both the language and spirit of the Wild Horse Act protect wild horses from elimination…”

A Front Range horse rescue group is trying to block the Bureau of Land Management from doing any more horse gathers in the West Douglas Herd Area near Rangely, CO.

083015_They_Chute_Horses_600x400That group, Front Range Equine Rescue, filed an appeal with the U.S. Department of the Interior on Thursday, saying that a BLM decision in July ultimately calls for removing all horses in the 128,000-acre herd area.

The group’s main argument is that by removing horses from its land, the BLM is violating the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.

“As a matter of legal principle, BLM’s plan to zero out the wild horse herd in the (west Douglas area) conflicts with the agency’s mandate to protect wild horses and manage them as a component of public lands under the wild horse act,” the appeal says. “If the horses are a component and they are to be managed on the land, they must be there on the land, and BLM’s intentional decimation of the herd from the area violates the plan language of the wild horse act.”

Last month, The Cloud Foundation and Wild Horse Freedom Federation filed suit to block the gathers, but lost in federal court.

“The BLM is intent on removing an entire herd, but both the language and spirit of the Wild Horse Act protect wild horses from elimination,” said Hilary Wood, the rescue’s president. “This irreversible action will permanently alter the natural diversity of the range and damage herd health in the adjacent areas that are also under the BLM’s management.”

BLM officials, however, say they are trying to manage the horse herds, but said their job goes far beyond that. They also have other plant and animal life that they have to think about.

Additionally, much of its responsibilities in dealing the horse herds are in designated horse management areas, and the West Douglas Herd Area isn’t one of them.

“A complete gather would be extremely difficult and we have no immediate plans for a future gather that I’m aware of,” said BLM spokesman Chris Joyner. “The issue isn’t West Douglas. The issue is (allegedly) excess horses. It’s an area that we feel like can only sustain about 30 horses.”

The real herd management area is adjacent to that, east of Douglas Creek and in the Piceance Basin, and it has an even alleged bigger problem with horse overpopulation, Joyner said.

Last month, the BLM gathered 167 horses from the West Douglas area, leaving about 200 still there, far more than the area can sustain, Joyner said. He said the larger herd management area has about 390 horses, about 150 more than the land can sustain.

“We’re following the act exactly as it’s written,” Joyner said. “We have to look at the sustainability of the ranges and having to help the ranges for every species that’s out there. During the gather I saw my first badger, I saw a bobcat and I saw a black-footed ferret. Those are animals that need that range, too, and we have to manage it for all those species.”

“How about all of the private, welfare cattle that outnumber the horses 4 to 1 out there, Mr. Joyner…are you taking them off from the public land, also?” (we all know the answer) ~ R.T.

Front Range Equine Rescue Claims BLM Trying To Breed Special Mustangs In Oregon

Source: Denver CBS By JEFF BARNARD

“We just believe the Wild Horse Act was intended to protect wild horses in their natural state, not to turn herd management areas into breeding facilities for specific types of horses,”

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Wild-horse advocates are challenging U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans this summer to round up the famous Kiger and Riddle Mountain mustang herds in eastern Oregon, arguing the agency is developing a “master breed” of wild horses exhibiting characteristics of old Spanish bloodlines that are popular with the public, rather than maintaining wild horses in natural conditions, as the law requires.

The Colorado-based group Front Range Equine Rescue filed an appeal of the roundup plan Wednesday with the Interior Board of Land Appeals.

The appeal argues that the BLM returns to the range only horses exhibiting Kiger characteristics, effectively breeding for those characteristics and depleting the gene pool, endangering the ability of the herds to survive in the wild.

“We just believe the Wild Horse Act was intended to protect wild horses in their natural state, not to turn herd management areas into breeding facilities for specific types of horses,” said attorney Bruce Wagman, who represents the wild horse group.

The next roundup is expected in mid-August, with adoptions at the wild horse corrals in Hines in October, the BLM said. Plans call for keeping off the range up to 105 Kigers out of a herd of 141, and 48 Riddle Mountains out of a herd of 73, according to BLM documents.

BLM spokesman Jeff Campbell said bureau lawyers were still examining the appeal, but the bureau keeps close track of the herds’ genetic diversity, bringing in outside horses to the herd when needed, and returns to the range horses less likely to be adopted.

Wagman said the appeal was the first challenge of a BLM wild horse roundup based on genetic issues. Other challenges have been based on claims of cruelty and whether environmental laws have been followed. Some wild-horse advocates also object to the use of contraceptive to control herd numbers.

Wagman said the appeal was not seeking an order immediately stopping the gather, but they hoped the BLM would hold off until the appeal was settled.

The BLM has put on hold plans to round up 300 wild horses in Nevada after a federal judge temporarily blocked it earlier this year for fear of harm to the mustangs.

The BLM gathers the Kiger and Riddle Mountain herds every four years to control their effect on the range. While other wild horse herds rounded up around the West often go begging, the BLM website says that nearly every one of the Kiger and Riddle Mountain horses brought in is adopted, some in competitive bidding. Meanwhile, nearly 50,000 wild horses are held by the BLM at a cost of $43 million a year because no one wants them.

Located about 50 miles south of Burns, the Kigers are known for being strong compact horses that bond closely with people. They come with distinctive markings, such as a stripe down the back, zebra stripes on the lower legs, long contrasting manes and fine muzzles. The most common colors are dun, but a slate gray known as grulla, and a light buckskin known as claybank, are highly prized.

At one auction in 1999, a claybank filly sold for $19,000. Another served as the model for a 2002 animated movie about wild horses called “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.”

“By capitalizing on the fame and desirability of the Kiger Mustang to the detriment of other horses presently found in the Kiger and Riddle Mountain (herds), BLM is participating in the unlawful commercial exploitation of wild horses that the Wild Horse Act sought to prohibit,” the appeal argues.

“By reducing the genetic diversity in the (herds) to only those horses with Kiger Mustang characteristics, and then conducting gathers every four years to round up these valuable Kiger horses to sell them for adoption, BLM effectively creates a breeding facility that injures the wild horses’ survival possibilities and benefits only BLM and private actors desirous of purchasing this ‘breed,’” the appeal said.

Wild Horse Advocates Appeal Court Decision: Forest Service Fence Threatens Ongoing Survival of Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd

Source: The Cloud Foundation, Front Range Equine Rescue and Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Historical and critical range fenced off by U.S. Forest Service endangers the herd’s genetic variability

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO. (April 23, 2014) On April 21, 2014, The Cloud Foundation (TCF), Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER) and noted equine photographer, Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) filed an appeal in District of Columbia Circuit Court to US District Court’s November 2013 dismissal of a lawsuit against the Custer National Forest (FS)  and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). “We brought the FS into the suit when they issued a call for bids to build the new fence in 2010,  states Ginger Kathrens, Founder and Executive Director of TCF.  “The fence threatens the survival of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd by eliminating thousands of acres of vital late summer and fall grazing.”

The two mile-long, six foot high fence across a subalpine meadow blocks wild horses from historic and critical high elevation grazing in the Pryor Mountains of Montana and mars an otherwise pristine landscape. The controversy over this artificial boundary began long before the fence was built in October of 2010.  TCF contends that the fence, which is on the boundary line between US Forest Service and BLM land, only exists because the FS refuses to manage horses in an area the herd has used since long before the FS and the BLM were created.

Range expansion is crucial since the Pryor herd is small, isolated and vulnerable to genetic decline. An August, 2013 report by leading equine geneticist, E. Gus Cothran, PhD, Texas A&M University warns of declining variability in the famed herd.  Analyzing the genetics of wild horses removed from the Pryor range last year, Cothran urged the BLM to “increase population size if range conditions allow.”

“The Pryor herd is one of the oldest in the West, is a unique genetic link to the Spanish Colonial horse, and is a closed herd (i.e. no access from an adjoining herd).  Although the herd appears to be strong with remarkable longevity there have been several cases of limited vision or blindness, hernias, and cryptorchidism. These physical defects could be a reflection of narrowing genetic variability,” states Kathrens who has followed the herd for 20 years, producing three PBS Nature documentaries about Cloud, a pale Palomino stallion who lives wild in the Pryors. “Obviously with fewer horses on the range, the chances increase that individuals will be more closely related than if the herd were larger.”

In the late 1990s and early 2000s herd numbers were in the low 200s.  TCF would like to see the herd managed at numbers even higher than these, but that is difficult based on the current acreage available for their use. TCF and their partners will be working to return the Sorenson Extension in the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (BCNRA). “This will be great for tourism, giving the public a greater chance to see wild horses in the Dryhead area of the range, including mares that might be in the core breeding population and have foals,” Kathrens adds. Wild horse viewing in the BCNRA has increased over the years and is an important economic driver for the nearby community of Lovell, WY.

“The BLM will be adding the Administrative Pastures at the very bottom of the mountain and we applaud them for this,” states Carol Walker. The 3,000 plus acres contained in the Administrative Pastures are not productive lands but they will allow for the herd to grow a little and they provide the best chance for wild horse bands to get out of deep snow higher on the range. “This was an area used extensively by Cloud’s father, Raven, and his band until the gates were shut a few years ago,” Walker adds.

“TCF has worked closely with the Billings BLM office over the past few years,” states Kathrens.  We are confident they have the best interests of the horses at heart and we are a willing volunteer for any efforts to benefit the horses.” TCF volunteered last year to help the BLM apply the fertility control vaccine PZP to mares to curtail population growth with the shared goal of preventing future removals.

“However, it is critical that the Forest Service take down the fence which keeps the herd from the highest quality pastures – pastures the herd had enjoyed for over 200 years,” stated Kathrens.  Unless they remove the fence, I fear that not only the genetic stability, but the ongoing survival of the Pryor Herd is at great risk which would be a tragic loss for the American public.”

“Every summer and fall until the fence was erected I observed and photographed the majority of the herd grazing in these beautiful, rich pastures,” Walker added. “Seeing the horses go down the trails their feet had made over many years and now being blocked at the fence, and gazing over it, not understanding why they could not go there anymore is heartbreaking. This fence must come down.”

 Links:

 Notice of Appeal, April 21, 2014

 Judge Rules against The Cloud Foundation Lawsuit to Protect the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd.

 Genetic Analysis of the Pryor Mountains Wild horse Range, MT by E. Gus Cothran, August 2013

 The Cloud Foundation Legal Documents, Pryor Wild Horse Herd.

http://www.wildhoofbeats.com/blog/wild-horses-dont-fence-in-or-remove-clouds-herd

 

 Media Contacts:

Paula Todd King

The Cloud Foundation

843-592-0720

paula@thecloudfoundation.org

Terry Fitch

Wild Horse Freedom Federation

800-074-3684

info@wildhorsefreedomfederation.org

The Cloud Foundation (TCF) is a Colorado based 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wild horses and burros on our western public lands. 

Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) is a registered Texas based 501(c)3 non-profit which puts people between America’s wild equids and extinction. 

 Front Range Equine Rescue is a 501(c)3 non-profit working to end the abuse and neglect of horses through rescue and education. 

 

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Attorney: Horsemeat Not Safe for Consumption

By Alex Flippin FOX 26 KNPN

“…they can’t sell animals for whom they have no medical records…”

In December, the organization Front Range Equine Rescue began its challenge to stop Gallatin, Mo.-based Rains Natural Meats from slaughtering horses for human consumption.

Now this week, the group says it has uncovered information that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s own policies prohibit meat from animals of unknown origins or incomplete health records, like that of horses, according to the organization’s attorney, Bruce Wagman.

“We have discovered documents going back for years that the FDA has been sending to producers of animals for meat which consistently tell those producers they can’t sell animals for whom they have no medical records,” Mr. Wagman said.

He said all arguments aside, horsemeat simply isn’t safe for human consumption

“That’s based on all the drugs that American horses are given before they are turned out to be meat. Those drugs are dangerous,” he explained. “They’re prohibited for use of animals that are going to be food in America, and therefore would be adulterated on that basis.”

Mr. Wagman said Front Range Equine Rescue will continue its efforts to eradicate all horse slaughter for meat, and is now one step closer to that goal.

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Animal -Welfare Lawyer: Horse Slaughter Suit is now ‘MOOT’

By Josh Long as published in Food Product Design

USDA is prohibited from inspecting facilities for horse slaughter throughout the remainder of the government’s fiscal year 2014

Attorney Bruce Wagman (center) at the 2012 International Equine Conference with clients R.T. and Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Albuquerque, N.M.—An annual budget signed by President Obama has rendered “moot” a lawsuit challenging horse slaughter, a lawyer representing animal-rights groups said.

A provision in the $1.1 trillion budget prevents the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from carrying out inspections for horse slaughter. Obama signed the bill on Jan. 17.

Last year, a federal district court judge dismissed a lawsuit that challenged horse slaughter. Front Range Equine Rescue, The Humane Society of the United States and others filed an appeal that remains pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

“We basically don’t think the court has jurisdiction over the case anymore,” said Bruce Wagman, who represents appellants in the case.

Wagman, a San Francisco-based lawyer with Schiff Hardin LLP, cited the absence of an “active controversy” because there is “no possibility of horse slaughter.” Courts have no authority to hear a case that meets the legal definition of mootness.

“We are going to file something in the next couple of weeks,” Wagman said.

Although he didn’t provide specifics, it’s plausible the appellants will seek to dismiss the lawsuit because the alleged harm—the slaughtering of horses in the United States—is theoretical. USDA is prohibited from inspecting facilities for horse slaughter throughout the remainder of the government’s fiscal year 2014 ending Sept. 30.

Facilities in New Mexico and Missouri had been seeking to slaughter horses for human consumption, although they faced state administrative and legal hurdles as well.

Holly Gann, horse slaughter campaign manager for The Humane Society of the United States, said her organization is calling on Congress to enact a permanent ban on the practice. Such legislation (Safeguard American Food Exports Act) was introduced last year in the House and Senate.

The bills also would end the practice of exporting American horses for slaughter outside the United States, Gann noted. She said more than 160,000 horses were sent to Canada and Mexico in 2012 to be slaughtered.

A. Blair Dunn, a lawyer representing two facilities that have been seeking the green light to slaughter horses—Valley Meat Co. in New Mexico and Rains Natural Meats in Missouri—has said the companies would look into filing a lawsuit that the funding ban violates provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement, The Associated Press reported earlier this month.

Wagman characterized such a proposal as a “crazy idea”.

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Hearing Officer Recommends New Mexico Deny Horse Slaughter Plant’s Waste Water Discharge Permit

Update from Front Range Equine Rescue

Valley Meat: History of willful disregard for environmental laws and regulations!

Rick De Los Santos, owner of Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, stands in the slaughterhouse where he plans to butcher horses for the foreign meat market. (PAT VASQUEZ-CUNNINGHAM/JOURNAL)

Rick De Los Santos, owner of Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, stands in the slaughterhouse where he plans to butcher horses for the foreign meat market. (PAT VASQUEZ-CUNNINGHAM/JOURNAL)

As a result of Front Range Equine Rescue’s continuous efforts to stop horse slaughter, a neutral hearing officer just recommended that the Secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department deny Valley Meat’s application for a wastewater discharge permit. Based on evidence assembled and arguments made in Front Range’s post-hearing brief, the hearing officer found that Valley Meat displayed a history of “willful disregard” for New Mexico’s environmental laws.

We are pleased with this recommendation; however, it is not a final decision.

Click (HERE) to download Hearing Officer’s Report

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USDA Responds to Horse Slaughter Plant Appeal

By Pat Raia as published in The Horse

“…the USDA has consistently ignored those obligations in a rush to begin horse slaughter…”

USDAThe USDA said its Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is not forbidden by law from inspecting horse processing plants, according to the agency’s response to an appeal filed in the 10th District Circuit Count to stop horse processing in at a New Mexico plant and elsewhere.

Horse slaughter has not taken place in the United States since 2007 when court rulings and legislation shuttered the last domestic processing plants. Prior to 2007, USDA personnel carried out inspections at horse processing plants until Congress voted to strip the USDA of funds to pay personnel conducting those inspections. In 2011, legislation reinstated USDA funding for U.S. horse processing plants and, in June 2013, Valley Meats Co. LLC in Roswell, N.M., received FSIS permit, which allows placement of personnel at the plant to carry out horsemeat inspections.

In April 2013, the Front Range Equine Rescue and the Humane Society of the United States announced that they would bring a federal lawsuit challenging any permit issued to Valley Meats on grounds that the USDA failed to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about the plant’s potential environmental impact.

On Oct. 31, Albuquerque, N.M.-based U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo allowed the lawsuit to expire without ruling on the case. Attorney Blair Dunn—who represents the owners of Valley Meats as well as the owners of Rains Natural Meats, another plant hoping to process horses in Gallatin, Mo. —said the expiration cleared the way for Valley Meats to begin processing horses in New Mexico.

However, on Nov. 4 the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colo., issued an emergency temporary injunction barring the USDA from inspecting the plants pending further order of the court. The ruling once again stops the opening of both the Valley Meats and Rains Natural Meats plant.

In a Nov. 6 response to the appeal, the USDA cited the Federal Meat Inspection Act saying that the act applies to “cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses, mules, and other equines,” and “imposes a non-discretionary duty on FSIS to grant inspections at slaughter facilities meeting the requirements of the act.” At the same time, the USDA response said claims that the Valley Meats and Rains Natural Meats plants, in addition to a horse processing plant currently processing cattle in Iowa, will do “irreparable harm” to their environments are unsubstantiated.

Hilary T. Wood, president and founder of Front Range Equine, believes the USDA has long ignored its legal requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act.

“Rather than undertake the Congressionally mandated and open public review of the potential tragic environmental consequences of horses slaughter, the USDA has consistently ignored those obligations in a rush to begin horse slaughter,” she said.

The case remains pending.

Click (HERE) to read the story in it’s entirety at The Horse

Horse Slaughter: Equine Advocates Vow Long Legal Battle to Save Animals

By John M. Glionna of the LA Times

Horse slaughter is a predatory, inhumane business, and we are pleased to win another round in the courts to block killing of these animals on American soil for export to Italy and Japan”

Rick De Los Santos, owner of Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, stands in the slaughterhouse where he plans to butcher horses for the foreign meat market. (PAT VASQUEZ-CUNNINGHAM/JOURNAL)

Rick De Los Santos, owner of Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, stands in the slaughterhouse where he plans to butcher horses for the foreign meat market. (PAT VASQUEZ-CUNNINGHAM/JOURNAL)

Animal welfare advocates are preparing for a legal showdown after a federal appeals court this week temporarily banned the slaughter of horses in New Mexico and Missouri, with the activists pledging to continue to fight for the welfare of domestic horses nationwide.

The issue of slaughtering domestic horses has been divisive nationwide, spurring debate in Congress and dividing horse rescue and animal welfare groups, ranchers, politicians and Indian tribes.

The last U.S. horse slaughterhouse closed in 2006, the same year Congress essentially banned the practice by eliminating funding for inspections of those facilities. The funding was restored in 2011, prompting several companies nationwide to seek permission to open plants.

Since then, various courts have issued conflicting decisions on whether horses can once again be killed for their meat.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Monday issued a temporary injunction barring the Department of Agriculture from inspecting the plants. That ruling came just days after a federal judge in Albuquerque dismissed a lawsuit by groups that alleged the department failed to conduct proper environmental studies when it issued permits to the slaughterhouses.

“Horse slaughter is a predatory, inhumane business, and we are pleased to win another round in the courts to block killing of these animals on American soil for export to Italy and Japan. Meanwhile, we are redoubling our efforts in Congress to secure a permanent ban on the slaughter of our horses throughout North America,” Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement.

Activists say the government approval is premature in light of building momentum in Washington to continue the ban on horse slaughter.

Humane Society officials pointed out that the U.S. House and Senate appropriations committees have voted to halt all funding for horse slaughterhouse inspections for fiscal year 2014.

Advocates for horse slaughter say there is a foreign market for the meat, even if it’s not a staple on American dinner tables.

Both sides in the battle acknowledged that the latest court order is temporary.

“We don’t know how long the appeals process will take,” Stephanie Twining, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society, told The Times. “If they don’t rule in our favor, that’s the end of the road for our battle in federal courts.”

But there are other options, she said, such as taking action in state courts and pressing Congress to pull funding from horse slaughterhouse inspections.

“We’re not going to give up on this battle,” Twining said. “We’re going to keep looking for other options.”