In 2004, Congress designated Dec. 13 as National Day of the Horse to honor the contributions horses have made to our country’s history, economy and national character.
For us every day of the year is a day we work hard to honor the horse. Our work for wild horses spans from the huge task of doing range documentation and fighting for protections from abuse and to protect resources for horses still running wild and free on the range, to the daily care of our rescues.
We have written thousands of articles on the site about our work, the history of wild horses, the law and the horse itself. You can scan through this site by typing a few words in the search bar or using the menu and spend hours reading if you chose.
The simple fact is that even though most Americans love and respect both domestic and wild horses, horses face extraordinary hardship and danger in our country.
On the range they face massive pushes from powerful interests that reap private profit on the land. The land our horses actually occupy is a but a small fraction of your public land (about 11%) and on that fraction get a small portion of the resource (usually less than 16%). Our lowlands are pounded by cloven hooves of the livestock industry and vast wounds in the earth are created by mining. Wild horses and burros are still the favorite scapegoat for damage and pay the ultimate price.
In the push from those interests that have manipulated political landscapes our wild horses face new threats. As government agencies bend over to placate profit driven interest a final blow to survival is on the horizon, surgical sterilization. Data collection and temporary fertility control are being seen as “too hard” to accomplish because it actually takes time and the public is misinformed. Instead it appears that an “easy way out” is being sought. Moving and and wrecking havoc by giving hysterectomies i n the field to wild mares has agencies only dealing with both the horse and the public once, a faster fix. It is an outrage.
Counties in ranching communities are pushing for a resumption of horse slaughter. They are doing this in multiple ways. In legal actions against federal agencies they are calling for horses to be removed and destroyed. The claim is that the government must “obey the law” but it is a tortuous interpretation. The government is not mandated to an “AML” (that the National Academy of Sciences found was not based on hard data), the government has discretion to manage above that fictional number based on multiple factors. The 2004 “Burns Amendment” has been repeatedly defunded by Congress (that would allow sale for slaughter) and in fact was immediately in Repeal after it passed in a stealth political move (further machinations of politics have kept it “on the books”). In addition they are pushing for horse slaughter plants to reopen in the US using a twisted logic that somehow that is “good” for horses.
Politics rules the range, not the reality of the range. There are multiple instances where “justice” is undone by money. Last year we saw an incredible federal court ruling by Judge Winmill that found that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) must evaluate rangeland before livestock is turned out. Congressional in the pocket of the industry essentially over turned that ruling by placing a rider allowing that unmonitored turnout in a defense spending bill.
Every law, rule and regulation in place gets twisted, bended or outright ignored. The race to create protection for domestic and wild horses alike, is intense.
Appropriations is in full swing once more. If you want to follow the twisted process on your own you can go here: https://www.congress.gov/resources/display/content/Appropriations+for+Fiscal+Year+2016 But you might want to keep in mind that many of these bills are so long that the aides to Congressional Reps often do not even read them carefully. They also change rapidly as with the instance of the “Burn’s Amendment” that was inserted last minute in 2004. (read here: http://wildhorseeducation.org/burns-amendment/) By December 11th we will see if language that defunds horse slaughter in the US is once again in the standing bill. This is a House sub committee, we know it gets confusing. They only listen to calls from those living in there states, even though the policy reflects a national agenda. Often these sub committees are made up of, or headed by, states with strong representation from the agriculture community. In this instance it is the following members:
Kentucky: Senator Mitch McConnell (R)- Phone: 202-224-2541
Nevada: Senator Harry Reid (D):-Phone: 202-224-3542
Maryland: Senator Barbara Mikulski (D)- Phone: 202-224-4654
Mississippi: Senator Thad Cochran (R) – Phone: 202-224-5054
Alabama: Rep: Aderholt (R)- Phone: 202-225-4876
California: Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D)-Phone: 202-225-4965
HSUS has created a fancy “click and send” where you can receive action updates by text. (WHE does not have funding for that kind of website). To take some of the confusion out of your life you can go here: https://secure.humanesociety.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=7077&autologin=true&s_src=sh_em
Every year this “crazy dance” occurs to deal with appropriations. Until we repeal the Burns Amendment and close the doors forever by passing legislation such as the SAFE Act we will need to repeat it.
We are working on repealing the Burn’s Amendment, continuing our work against slaughter, fighting for humane handling and pressing issues on the range.
Join us here: http://wildhorseeducation.org/invitation-to-action/
It becomes an unfortunate reality that the “National Day of the Horse” has become a mark in the fight to keep horses safe, instead of a day to simply celebrate “who” they are. So we have decided to create several articles, to protect them and to celebrate. Part two coming soon.
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Categories: Wild Horse Education