No justice for horses in court or Congress
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2005:
WASHINGTON D.C., FORT WORTH, RENO–U.S. District Judge
Terry Means on August 25 ruled that the Beltex and Dallas Crown horse
slaughterhouses in Fort Worth and Kaufman may continue killing horses
despite a 1949 Texas law against selling horsemeat for human
consumption. Beltex and Dallas Crown are the two oldest and largest
horse slaughterhouses in the U.S.
Means found that federal law permitting horse slaughter supersedes
the state law, which has apparently never been enforced.
While the verdict was pending, the Texas Department of
Criminal Justice sold 53 horses to Dallas Crown, despite a 2002
opinion by former state attorney general John Cornyn that such
transactions would be illegal.
Cornyn, now a Republican U.S. Senator, has not been visibly
involved in Congressional efforts to save wild horses from slaughter.
Under an amendment to the 1971 Wild and Free Ranging Horse
and Burro Protection Act slipped through Congress as a last-minute
rider to the November 2004 Consolidated Appropriations Act, the
Bureau of Land Management is now mandated to sell “without
limitation” any “excess” horse or burro who is more than 10 years of
age, or who has been offered for adoption three times without a
taker. “Excess” means any wild horse or burro who has been removed
from the range. The Bureau of Land Management has taken about 10,000
horses and burros from the range in nine western states in each of
the past three years, and plans to take 10,000 this year in 57
Introduced by Senator Conrad Burns (R-Montana), the
amendment in effect repealed a requirement in effect for 34 years
that wild horse adopters had to keep a horse for at least one year
before selling the horse to slaughter.
After several adopters were caught selling newly acquired
wild horses to slaughter, the U.S. House of Representatives in May
2005 passed a bill to repeal the Burns Amendment as part of an
Interior appropriations bill. The repeal had little chance of
advancing farther because Burns chairs the Senate Appropriations
subcommittee, and was therefore in a position to ensure that it was
not included in the final reconciled versions of the House and Senate
bills. The repeal was officially dead on July 28.
More than 1,400 wild horses were sold under the Burns
amendment during the first six months of 2005.
Representatives Jon Porter (R-Nevada) and Shelley Berkley
(D-Nevada), and Senators Harry Reid and Jon Ensign (both R-Nevada)
on June 20 introduced a bill to reduce the minimum horse adoption fee
from $125 to just $25, eliminate a limit of four wild horse
adoptions per person per year that applies to horses not eligible for
sale under the Burns amendment, and would reinstate the one-year
waiting period for buyers to receive titles to wild horses acquired
via the Burns amendment.
Promoted as another attempt to protect wild horses, the bill
would actually expedite the sale of younger and healthier horses to
“This is a tremendously misguided measure,” Society for
Animal Protective Legislation policy analyst Chris Heyde told Suzanne
Struglinski of the Las Vegas Sun.
“These bills would put another 16,000 horses at risk, in a
scheme shockingly similar to the disastrous fee waiver scheme of the
mid-1980s,” commented Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates cofounder
Willis Lamm. “Fee Waiver led to the slaughter of perhaps up to
20,000 wild horses,” Lamm estimated.
“Wild horses have been reduced from more than two million at
the turn of the last century to less than 35,000 today, soon to be
reduced to only 22,000,” noted Animal Welfare Institute wildlife
consultant Andrea Lococo.
That will be a third of the population in 1959, when Nevada
secretary Velma Johnston won a ban on shooting wild horses from
aircraft, the beginning of federal efforts to “protect” wild horses.