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April 29, 2005 | Horses

Horse Advocates Demand an End to Capture and Slaughter

Darien, Connecticut — In the past two weeks, 41 wild horses have been slaughtered under a new law that makes it easier to round up older horses and kill them.

The recent killings began on the 18th of April, when Dustin Herbert of Oklahoma seized upon a statute signed by President Bush in December, and purchased six horses in Colorado. 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. This week, 35 more horses were killed at the same plant.

Friends of Animals, an international animal advocacy organization supported by about 200,000 members, calls for a full moratorium on the government-sanctioned round-ups, sales and slaughter of free-living horses.

The group asks for a repeal of the Burns Amendment, which reversed a 34-year prohibition on the slaughter of wild horses. The Amendment, attached to the 3,000-page 2005 Appropriations Bill, enabled the Bureau of Land Management to sell off horses older than 10 who are not able to be adopted. Over 9,000 horses are currently at risk of being sold to slaughter.

The Bureau’s officials are under pressure from the Department of the Interior to cut herds in half by the end of 2005. About 37,000 wild horses compete with almost 95,000 cows on public lands, according to the Department of Agriculture, and ranchers are lobbying for more expedient round-ups.

Said Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral:

“Increasingly, our society only accepts other animals if they can be made into commodities � even if that means their death. So free-living horses are deemed unacceptable, particularly where they compete with ranch lands for water, space and sustenance. For those who respect free-living animals, it’s simply not enough to express outrage at their deaths: We must also stop supporting the profits of ranches. It’s time we acknowledge the connection between horsemeat and hamburgers.”

Recommendations for action from Friends of Animals:

Go to the root. The most important step any single member of the public can take in support of horses is to adopt a plant-based diet.

Demand public accountability: Demand a moratorium on the round-up and slaughter of free-living horses. Letters to your congress member should begin by clearly protesting the Burns Amendment to the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. Urge representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 297, introduced by Reps. Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY). Urge senators to co-sponsor S. 576, introduced by Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV).

Senator Conrad Burns (fax: 202.224.8594) introduced the wild horse slaughter amendment, and found support from Nevada Senators Harry Reid (fax: 202.224.7327) and John Ensign (fax: 202.228.2193). Concerned people everywhere should protest their move to privatize animals on federal lands.

At this time, action by the Bureau of Land Management is stalled in the controversy. Keep the pressure on. Write to Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior, 1849 C Street, N.W. , Washington DC 20240 (fax: 202.208.5048); Robert Abbey, Nevada State Director, Bureau of Land Management, 1340 Financial Blvd., Reno, NV 89502-2055 (fax: 775.861.6606); and Kathleen Clarke, Director, Bureau of Land Management, 1849 C Street NW Rm. 406-LS, Washington, D.C. 20240 (fax: 202.452.5124).

To track legislation and locate your Congress Members online, visit

Take Action

Please send the following letter to your state�s U.S. senators to support S-576 and U.S. Representatives to sponsor H.R. 297.

To find contact information for your local Congress members go to:

Dear Senator/Representative,

I urge you to co-sponsor [H.R. 297 introduced by Representatives Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY)] [S. 576 introduced by Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV)].

This bill would renew the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Act, reversing an amendment quietly introduced by Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) as a rider to the 2005 Appropriations Bill. The Burn Amendment unfortunately makes it easier to capture and kill free-living horses. As a voter, I am disturbed that the rider passed without a hearing or opportunity for public review. This is a federal issue � not just a decision for a few special interests and their supporters in Nevada.

The Burns Amendment undermines the intent of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Act. Passed without a single dissenting vote, the 1971 law was created to protect free-living horses in their natural habitat. Despite its objective, wild horse populations are continually dwindling. Over the past 100 years, free-living horses have steadily declined from over two million to less than 35,000.

I find no justification for capture and slaughter. From media reports and from press releases issued by researchers at Friends of Animals, I understand that the government is highly supportive of ranchers operating on public lands so that they can turn a healthy profit, while horses are privatized and systematically removed. I can no longer stand by and allow horses to be rounded up and slaughtered, while the government plays favorites to our nation�s ranchers.

Just recently the Bureau of Land Management declared a moratorium on round- ups after 41 horses were slaughtered in two weeks under the Burns Amendment. But I fear without thorough investigation, the round ups will continue. In addition to co-sponsoring [H.R. 297] [S. 576], I also urge you to support a continued moratorium on round-ups of horses and burros.

I respectfully request a prompt response from you stating your position with regard to [H.R. 297] [S. 576] which would restore the prohibition on the commercial sale and slaughter of wild horses and burros.


  • Rep Abercrombie, Neil [HI-1] - 4/6/2005
  • Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] - 3/17/2005
  • Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] - 4/6/2005
  • Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23] - 3/7/2005
  • Rep Cardin, Benjamin L. [MD-3] - 4/21/2005
  • Rep Case, Ed [HI-2] - 2/9/2005
  • Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] - 3/7/2005
  • Rep Cummings, Elijah E. [MD-7] - 3/7/2005
  • Rep Davis, Tom [VA-11] - 3/17/2005
  • Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] - 3/7/2005
  • Rep DeLauro, Rosa L. [CT-3] - 4/28/2005
  • Rep Engel, Eliot L. [NY-17] - 3/9/2005
  • Rep Etheridge, Bob [NC-2] - 3/7/2005
  • Rep Evans, Lane [IL-17] - 4/28/2005
  • Rep Farr, Sam [CA-17] - 4/6/2005
  • Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] - 4/6/2005
  • Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] - 4/6/2005
  • Rep Goode, Virgil H., Jr. [VA-5] - 2/9/2005
  • Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] - 3/9/2005
  • Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] - 3/9/2005
  • Rep Inslee, Jay [WA-1] - 2/1/2005
  • Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] - 2/1/2005
  • Rep Kennedy, Patrick J. [RI-1] - 3/17/2005
  • Rep Kildee, Dale E. [MI-5] - 2/9/2005
  • Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. [OH-10] - 2/15/2005
  • Rep Larsen, Rick [WA-2] - 3/9/2005
  • Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] - 3/17/2005
  • Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18] - 2/15/2005
  • Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] - 2/15/2005
  • Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] - 2/1/2005
  • Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] - 3/7/2005
  • Rep McNulty, Michael R. [NY-21] - 3/7/2005
  • Rep Menendez, Robert [NJ-13] - 3/7/2005
  • Rep Miller, George [CA-7] - 2/15/2005
  • Rep Moore, Gwen [WI-4] - 4/6/2005
  • Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] - 3/7/2005
  • Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] - 3/9/2005
  • Rep Olver, John W. [MA-1] - 3/9/2005
  • Rep Price, David E. [NC-4] - 3/17/2005
  • Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] - 2/9/2005
  • Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-9] - 3/7/2005
  • Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-16] - 3/7/2005
  • Rep Spratt, John M., Jr. [SC-5] - 4/28/2005
  • Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] - 3/7/2005
  • Rep Sweeney, John E. [NY-20] - 3/9/2005
  • Rep Tauscher, Ellen O. [CA-10] - 2/9/2005
  • Rep Tierney, John F. [MA-6] - 3/17/2005
  • Rep Udall, Mark [CO-2] - 4/21/2005
  • Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] - 2/9/2005
  • Rep Whitfield, Ed [KY-1] - 1/25/2005
  • Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] - 2/9/2005
  • Rep Wu, David [OR-1] - 3/17/2005


  • Sen Boxer, Barbara [CA] - 4/4/2005
  • Sen Lautenberg, Frank R. [NJ] - 4/4/2005
  • Sen Levin, Carl [MI] - 4/26/2005
  • Sen Obama, Barack [IL] - 4/21/2005

Bureau of Land Management Approves Rules To Benefit Ranchers

Update: 14 April 2006 - After answering some of the more than 18,000 comments submitted by unspecified sources in reaction to its controversial new grazing rules, in a recently published addendum, the Bureau of Land Management has decided to finalize the proposals. The changes, to be published in the Federal Register shortly, relax the rules and regulations governing ranchers on public land.

The latest policies include provisions allowing:

  • Ranchers to share title to wells, pipelines and other resources with the federal government.
  • State, county, local and tribal grazing boards to have a greater say in decisions made on public land. Many who sit on these local boards are ranchers themselves.
  • No more three-year resting requirements. Now, if ranchers want cattle returned to their land before three years, the Bureau will review annually.
  • Ranchers to have two years instead of the original one year to implement a change, such as reducing the number of cattle they graze, after the agency orders that reduction.
  • If ranchers must make large-scale reductions (10% plus), they'll get five years to make these major changes.
  • Conservation use permits, formerly issued by the Secretary of the Interior and used to prohibit grazing for up to ten years, will become illegal.
  • The federal government to give states rights to water used by ranchers on federal land.
  • The public to be banned from engaging in the day-to-day decision-making process of state and local grazing boards.

Giving more rights to public lands ranchers, who already lease the land at well-below-market prices, decimate the landscape and push many free-living animals, including wild horses, to the brink of extinction, is intolerable. It is only by denying ranchers a profit that they will ever cease to siphon land and resources from the government, and the wildlife it is supposed to protect. To do this, we must limit society's demand for beef and all the products ranchers produce.


imagine if you were a free horse and all of the sudden you were being slaughtered? How would that feel to you ?? or if all your family and friends were being taken away from you?? this is awful behavior for humans God disigned to take care of his creatures. we should be respecting and protecting these wonderful animals.

Im outraged on these unnessesary slaughters on these free living horses or any other living and feeling animal on earth. They feel pain as we do there sensitive with feelings dont forget that. Who gives anyone a right to kill a helpless and inocent animal for the purpose of money and greed.I wish all you slaughters could feel the same pain as the animals do.Then you would stop the insanity of unnesesary killings. Just look in the eyes of the animal your about to slaughter i mean really look in there eyes they want to live as much as you do and deserve as much love as you do and last but not least they also deserve as much respect as you do.

Please stop the sale of horses to those who will only send them to be killed. America's horses and all animals of such beauty, should be roaming the wild and not served up for dinner. Thank you. Sincerely, Marcie F. Ebenstein Ft. Lee, New Jersey

Living in the middle of wild horse country I see the animals and politics literally every day. On one hand, every significant media poll shows that two-thirds or more of Nevadans don't believe that there are too many horses on the range, nor do they support sale of horses held by the BLM for commercial purposes such as slaughter. These are, aftgerall, animals held as a result of a Federal protection and management plan. It is totally inappropriate for animals brought in ostensibly for the "protection of the herd" to be subject to slaughter or other exploitation. BLM does have a horse inventory problem. There are a number of opinions as to why this is true. Complaints from public lands ranchers that horses are destroying the range are commonplace and tend to drive BLM policy. However their arguments simply don't add up. First, there are estimated to be between 30,000 and 35,000 wild horses on the range competing with over four million cattle and livestock. When assigning blame for range conditions, the math simply doesn't work. Secondly when one studies horses on the range, what one actually observes simply doesn't correlate with the beef cattle industry's allegations. Horses first evolved in North America and are designed, as nearly all evolved species, to live in a symbiotic relationship with the range. Nevada's Virginia Range is home to the largest contiguous free-roaming horse herd in North America. There are two to three times the numbers of horses that anti-horse "experts" claim that the range can support. But the range is privately held for the most part and while up to 1,500 horses may graze a relatively small area, there are few cows. The images that can be viewed from these links speak for themselves. It's a darn healthy range. Thirdly, when the Wild Free-Roaming Horses & Burros Act was passed in 1971, its opening paragraph states, "Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene." If back in 1971 Congress declared that wild horses were fast disappearing from the American scene, one has to ask why is BLM so Hell bent to gather them up? Part of the answer lies in the fact that BLM was originally created to administer land for leasees, not horses. Another part is that there is a huge stake in the beef cattle industry's having a handy scapegoat to blame poor range conditions (that to a number of observers are primarily of their own causing.) Wild horse critics like to point out situations where range conditions have been so bad that the range couldn't support the horses. These situations have certainly occurred however they are quite unusual and are the product of rare and extreme weather conditions. When extreme degradations occur cattle are supposed to be taken off first, then horses. Unfortunately the cattle are replaced when conditions improve but the horses typically are never put back. Ergo, more horses wind up in long BLM's term holding facilities, adding to the agency's "inventory" problem. Senator Burns's idea of "sale authority" was supposedly to allow BLM greater flexibility in placing backlogged animals. However as a stealth rider it was never allowed scrutiny and as a result it required BLM to start a mission without providing the tools (safeguards) for BLM to do a proper job. Burns' conduct was a product of influence by the beef cattle industry. Less than 3% of America's beef is produced by public lands ranchers however they seem to hold great sway over the politics of the various beef councils. Some private lands beef ranchers are starting to say "Enough is enough." A small group in New Mexico even came up with an idea called "Quit Beefin'!" suggesting that consumers purchase non-beef main dishes until the wild horse / public range issues are resolved. They see the public lands ranchers, who get to grow their products at subsidized rates, as potentially alienating their customer base so they want to be on the "right side" of the argument. It does appear that since the legislative effort is stalling out that economic sanctions may be the only effort that would get the public lands ranchers to stop and take notice. However while a beef boycott is the least expensive way to influence industry attitudes (it doesn't cost any money... it only requires people to make choices), it won't be effective unless it can impact the market by at least 10%. It doesn't help for vegetarians to stop eating beef since they already don't. The average American household has to reduce or curtail beef purchases for economic sanctions to be felt. To do that, some entity that is considered as being "mainstream" has to organize and coordinate such an effort. However if enough folks concerned about wild horses and public range policy start speaking with their wallets, people will start to pay attention. Web resources: Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates: KBR World of Wild Horses and Burros: Willis Lamm, Stagecoach, NV

The slaughter of ANY horse should be banned in this country. All 3 slaughterhouses are foreign owned and provide many tons of horse meat for human consumption in Europe and Asia. Supporters of horse slaughter and the slaughterhouses claim they are providing a necessary service. They are servicing only themselves. We must all vocie our opposition and contact our elected officials now to keep the momentum going and to, hopefully, permanently ban the transport and slaughter of horses for human consumption in this country and the transport of horses over foreign borders for slaughter. We must also all be accountable for the horses in need and make donations, in any amount, to the appropriate, legitimate groups to support them. Blog editors' note: Diana, thank you for writing. Please note that we're working not just against the slaughters, but all roundups -- therefore really taking on the issue at its roots. It does not matter whether the slaughterhouses are U.S.-owned or otherwise owned. In any case, it is U.S. brokers who move the horses out -- beginning with the collaboration between ranchers and the U.S. government. If you want to stop horse slaughter, encourage people not to eat the ranchers' products. That means meat and other animal products. And yes, please donate to our efforts if you can.

Stop the slaughter of our beautiful wild horses

Stop the slaughter of innocent animals who have done nothing to us, except be there for us in our hard times. When we needed a friend most, they were there. And this is how we repay them? There are more humane ways to kill a horse, rather than let it suffer, and have to have that horse look death in the eye. Horses are people too. The only thing that's different about them is: they walk on four legs; "talk" in a different language; and just look plain different than us. But they're still people. They still have fears, dreams, and souls. Why are we murdering the people we call friends? There is no reason for this, except greed, selfishness, and easy way to make money. You people who support, or have anything to do with the slaughter of wild horses, disgust me!


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