Despite Deaths, Mass Removal of Wild Horses and Burros to Continue
The killings began on the 18th of April, when Dustin Herbert of Oklahoma purchased six wild horses in Colorado after they were rounded up and held in a government pen. The former rodeo clown said the horses would be used for a church youth program. Those horses were later sent to the Cavel International slaughterhouse in DeKalb, Illinois. A week later, 35 more horses were killed at the same plant.
Despite a brief, six-week moratorium on the wild horse and burro roundups following the deaths in Illinois, on 1 June 2005 the government will resume capturing and removing these animals from public land.
While the government continues to appease ranchers by confiscating horses and burros to make room for an ever-burgeoning cattle industry, Friends of Animals calls for the end of the roundups that strip horses and burros of their ability to live unmolested on public land.
Last December, a rider called the Burns Amendment was quietly passed, making it easier to slaughter older, unwanted horses. From then until the moratorium began, the government has removed 3,346 wild horses and burros. And starting next month, the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and other government contractors will continue roundups as expediently as ever; another 5,000-6,000 horses and burros are scheduled to be removed before the end of September.
By proceeding only through September, the government can assure removals go smoothly without being inhibited in any way by a recent amendment introduced by Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), passed in the House on 19 May. If enacted in September, that legislation will constitute a ban on the use of tax money for wild horse sales, effective in October — after the forced removal of more than 12,000 wild horses and burros will have taken place throughout the last fiscal year.
Although some media reports and one national humane society have called Rahall’s efforts “a victory for wild horses,” the legislation is too little, too late. Thus, Friends of Animals will propose legislation to halt all roundups.
The 2005 schedule for horse and burro removals can be found on the following page. The schedule was last updated 16 May 2005 and is subject to change.