Harmful provisions in Congress’s spending bill would strip protections for wolves, reopen horse slaughter plants

By on March 7, 2018 with 13 Comments

As Congress works to finalize its FY18 spending bill to fund the federal government, key protections for animals are under attack. Some members, beholden to special interests, are attempting to reopen horse slaughter plants in the United States, authorize the killing of thousands of healthy wild horses and burros, strip Endangered Species Act protections for Great Lakes wolves, and repeal a rule to prevent cruel and unjustified methods of killing grizzlies and wolf pups on National Park Service lands in Alaska.

It’s a tired old Washington story: attaching measures that could never pass on their own merits to important spending bills that must be approved frequently, as this one has to be, in order to keep the government running. Every year, it’s the same special interests with the same outrageous proposals, literally seeking to harm millions of animals with a few strokes of the pen or the keyboard. And every year, our program experts and the Humane Society Legislative Fund team dig in to hold the line, keeping a close eye on these harmful riders scattered through the House and Senate versions of the bill, and gearing up to defeat them.

You too can do your part to ensure that these provisions do not pass.

  • Allowing horse slaughter plants to reopen: While the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill includes language that would keep horse slaughter plants from operating in the United States, the House Appropriations Committee failed to include this “defund” language, which has been in the annual spending bill for most of the last several years. The defund language effectively bans horse slaughter for human consumption by preventing the U.S. Department of Agriculture from using funds to inspect these facilities. Allowing slaughter plants to open will costs millions of taxpayer dollars each year—a move that is both fiscally irresponsible and in conflict with our values as a nation.
  • Authorizing the slaughter of thousands of healthy wild horses and burros: The House Interior Appropriations bill contains an amendment to allow the Bureau of Land Management to kill thousands of healthy wild horses and burros. In all but one year since 1994, Congress’s final appropriations bills have included language to prevent this. Thankfully, the Senate bill includes that protective language but the House version is a problem.
  • Removing ESA protections for gray wolves in the Great Lakes: Both chambers’ versions include language to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Further, the provision would bar judicial review of the action. This language overrides a federal appeals court ruling last year that maintained protections for wolves in the western Great Lakes region.
  • Blocking the implementation of a rule to prevent hunting grizzlies and wolf pups on National Preserves in Alaska: The House bill blocks implementation of a federal rule to prevent inhumane and scientifically unjustified hunting methods on National Preserves—a category of National Park Service land—in Alaska. These practices include luring grizzly bears with bait to shoot them at point-blank distance and killing wolf, black bear, and coyote mothers and their babies at their dens. Last February, Congress repealed a similar rule that protected predators on 76 million acres of National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska. These issues are best left to robust regulatory processes, with input from the public, land managers, and scientific experts, rather than being subjected to the political whims of Congress.

Please act immediately to let your members of Congress know that you want this spending package to protect animals at risk from malicious legislation. Urge them to reject these harmful provisions in the spending bill, and to maintain vital animal welfare protections that most of the American public supports. Remind them that it’s a spending bill, not an opportunity for the defenders of cruelty.

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Equine, Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Donna Ferguson says:

    Kamala Harris sent me an email from her office in response to the wild horse issue. I filled out the HSUS online submission and was a little surprised to see her letter in my email, but thrilled never the less. She cares and certainly shows it. Many more do also…reach out to your representatives, both the House and Senate via HSUS or via their websites!

  2. Michele OBrien says:

    Thank you for bringing this to the attention of us all. I do keep pretty updated on these particular issues. I also know that the Congressmen in my district, one a Democrat and one a Republican are adamantly opposed to reopening plants for horse slaughter and I believe they are also opposed to removing the protections that would strip protection from wolves. It’s so hard to believe that in this day and age this is even an issue. Just when you hope Society has become more compassionate towards our fellow creatures you realize that many do not feel the same.

    Again thank you for the heads up.

  3. Hazel Curtis says:

    i think it is disgusting and ruthless, and inhumane and unecessary to slaughter these beautiful wild horses. It has to be stopped !

  4. George Nagle says:

    First, I’d like to thank Gillian Lyons of HSUS who has spearheaded this fight for wild horses and burros for HSUS over the last few years.

    However, I’m not optimistic at all. With Ryan Zinke, Sec. of the Interior, pushing for this slaughter, and with the senate and house controlled by Republicans who represent special interests and not the 80% of Americans opposed to this slaughter, I’m afraid that this death warrant is all but signed, sealed, and delivered.

    I’m pretty sure my Congressman Mike Doyle (D) and Senator Bob Casey (D) will vote to maintain these protections.

    However, I fear that Senator Pat Toomey (R) will vote to strip these protections. I hope I’m wrong, but Toomey earlier voted to approve a bill repealing Obama-era regulations banning some of the most egregious and inhumane “hunting” practices on the national wildlife refuges in Alaska, such as killing bears and cubs hibernating in their dens, and killing wolves & coyotes and their pups in their dens, hunting grizzly bears from aircraft, trapping grizzly bears and black bears with steel-jawed leg-hold traps and snares, and the list of unconscionable animal cruelty practices that he voted for goes on and on.

    The only way that we can stop these atrocities is if the necessary investments are made in HSLF so that it can proactively and aggressively build its voting bloc to compete with the NRA, and strike the same fear into incumbent politicians that the NRA does.

    All the incumbent politicians that vote to strip these protections of wild horses, burros, and wolves and approve the egregious and inhumane hunting practices in Alaska, need to be the primary targets for removal from office in the next election.

    • Margaret Ellison says:

      I am watching the way each member of Congress votes on animal issues and will not support anyone who does not vote to protect the wild horses and burros-no slaughter or transports of these animals out of country to be slaughtered.
      Why do you all have such a hatred for animals?
      One can tell what morals you have by the e treatment of our animals. Meanness is very unbecoming and will not get you a vote from me, my friends and members of my family.

    • Karin McKenna says:

      I agree with the George Nagle comment. The voting block is the way to garner legislative attention. Those of us with progressive, humanitarian, tip of the evolutionary spear thought processes are also deigned to be “multiple issue” voters. This short changes wildlife and environmental conservation issues. The “single issue” voters concentrate their votes and voices in a deafening chorus – thereby minimizing our fragmented voices. We need to form a singular voting block. We cannot support puppies and kittens and offer only a sigh for the plight of horses, agricultural animals and wildlife. Hunting dogs are no less deserving of shelter and medical treatment than companion, household dogs. Wildlife cannot be sacrificed to the profit margins of the recreational hunting enterprise. Combining our dollars with votes – in even the most local elections- will serve as a force multiplier that politicians understand quite well.

    • Sharon says:


  5. fred says:

    Just curious to know if you consider HSUS as a “Special Interest Group” ? Your attack on others that may see things different appears a little hypocritical. I defend your right to say what you want and have your opinion, but attacking others as they express their opinions is wrong. I firmly believe that working together with all interests can result in compromise that everyone should be able to accept. Your “my way or the highway” approach is not the way to work together.

  6. Jennifer Hemingway says:

    Trump has to go!zinke has to go too.Trump is appointing idiots so that they can destroy what they should be protecting and which most Americans should hold dear.

  7. Anne Barton says:

    Thank you for all the work HSUS has done to prevent the wholesale slaughter of wild horses and burros, and for your other actions for wildlife. We need to counter not only these atrocities but the general assumption that the way to solve wildlife problems is to kill wildlife. I have contacted our delegate to Congress urging her to use whatever influence she has to protect these animals.

  8. Lynne says:

    We have a responsibility to protect these wild horses and burros. I fear for them. They are icons to the USA, just as the Native Americans are. That’s why I fear. Look what this country did to the Native Americans.

    Please do not slaughter these beautiful animalls like what was done to Native Americans. One slaughter is one too many. Don’t shame this country any more.

  9. Sue L. says:

    Why must people always want to Kill innocent Animals? Why? Zinke must Go. as should All who Trump has appointed as Heads of these Bureaus that are Supposed to Protect the
    Earth, Water, Animals, Fish, etc. and are All doing the Exact Opposite that these Departments were originally set up to protect. Its All about Money…..not protection.
    Who comes up with these ideas to kill horses ? & “Allow” the killing of Bears & Wolves, & defile our National Parks with oil & coal drilling. Who wants this?? Big Companies who Only think of making More & More money. We All need to elect -Vote for -Compasionate Reps & Senetors. People who will Guard & Protect our Children, Wildlife, Land & Oceans.

  10. Donna Rammer says:

    This is not a left or right issue. I do agree that dept of the interior ZINKE has some sort of problems with animals, and I have contacted the WH and complained many times. WE need to put back in the ban on Trophy killings. I suggest everyone that wants these animals protected, to direct your complain to the WH, I think I recall something on the WH website petition regarding animal rights. Keep on all these ppl and stop blaming. DO something about it.

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