HSUS, other advocacy groups sue to stop sale of California wild horses to slaughter

By on October 26, 2018 with 9 Comments

The Humane Society of the United States, joined by several other organizations, is suing to stop the U.S. Forest Service from carrying out a plan that could result in the sale of wild horses, now being rounded up in California, to slaughter.

Earlier this month, I told you about the misguided plan to round up nearly 1,000 horses from the Devil’s Garden wild horse territory in California’s Modoc National Forest. Horses more than 10 years old could be sold “without limitation,” and for as little as a dollar, almost guaranteeing they will be bought by kill buyers, who funnel thousands of American horses and burros each year into the horse meat trade.

This plan is not only heartless, it is also illegal. It runs contrary to decades of agency policy that prohibits horses from being sold for slaughter, and it violates several federal laws. It will also inevitably result in violations of California’s law that criminalizes the possession or transport of equines with the purpose of slaughtering them for human consumption. Soon after the plan was announced, we and our partners sent a letter to the Forest Service alerting them about this illegality, but received no response.

Our lawsuit, filed yesterday, contends that the Forest Service’s decision to change its longstanding policy was made without the legally required explanation. Moreover, we’ve also argued that it violates the agency’s obligation to engage in a thorough analysis of the environmental impacts of the decision to sell the horses without restrictions. We’ve been joined in this lawsuit by several other groups, including Front Range Equine Rescue, Return to Freedom, the Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills and Marin Humane, and two California humane law enforcement officers.

The U.S. Congress has been very clear that wild horses and burros should not be sold for slaughter, and almost every year since 2005, U.S. appropriations bills have included language to keep slaughter plants closed in the United States. Congress has also restricted the Bureau of Land Management – the agency that manages the vast majority of our nation’s wild horses – from knowingly allowing them to go to slaughter, to end up on someone’s plate. Unfortunately, no such restriction exists for the U.S. Forest Service, and that’s the loophole that the agency is trying to exploit with its latest action.

We fully understand that managing wild horse and burro populations is a complicated matter, but continuing a cycle of removals that result in these animals going to slaughter is not an option that should even be on the table. We urge the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service to implement a humane and effective fertility control plan that manages wild horse and burro populations without indiscriminate removal, and respects the legally protected status of these animals.

We continue to be hopeful that the agency will change its mind and rescind its latest plan in California. The vast majority of Americans detests the idea of selling wild horses – or any horses – to slaughter for human consumption. But if the Forest Service persists in pursuing its unlawful course, we look forward to seeing them in court, where we will fight all the way to protect these iconic animals who deserve much, much better than the horrors of a slaughterhouse in Mexico or Canada.

Equine, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Alice Hecht-Soliman says:

    I pray this does not come to. pass How can average citizen help. I am not the mega millions winner. If I were you would have loads of $$ for horse care. But serious
    ly. what can be done.

  2. E A Bentley says:

    Good to sue them for trying to make some of the Devil’s Garden available to slaughter which violates California law…but you at the HSUS got us into this mess partly by advocating outlawing humane slaughter in the USA…and we all know those horses now go over our borders from auctions to killpens to Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered most INhumanely.

    Can we get into a discussion and work with our lawmakers to address this problem WAY before the killpens?

  3. Julie Lighton says:

    What can we as US citizens do to support the legal actions and prevent this from happening in the future?

    Letter writing/email campaign to our government representatives? A petition?

    If you could let us know what we can do – besides sharing posts on social media – it would be helpful.

    Thank you.

  4. Lisa says:

    I like to thank you for your tireless efforts. These horses are one of the few native animals left and this has become a passion of mine.

  5. Vanessa Romero says:

    Horrific and cruel! We need to help save animals not let more be killed!! For these people it’s all about money, they could care less. You will go to hell for this and I really hope you can live at peace knowing you are the cause for these poor animals to suffer. I hope I can meet these people in person one day and let them know what I really think of these shitty people. I hope you rot in hell!

  6. Dee Villagrana says:

    I am outraged by the allowance of wild horses to be rounded up for slaughter!! This isn’t right by any means, please please do not slaughter these precious animals!

  7. Sandy Weinstein says:

    the wild horses were here first. just because the cattle farmers want more free government land to graze their cattle, they are killing these beautiful horses. it needs to stop. the cattle farmers should not be telling the government they need more grazing land and to get rid of the wild horses. the blm is crooked and has been for many years. some of the employees sell the horses to slaughter houses and pocket the money. rounding up the horses with planes and helicopters is terrible, it scares the horses, many die during roundups like these. these horses are part of our heritage.

  8. Sandra J Hall says:

    Can any be adopted by regular people? Maybe someone could donate time and yeah $ work with the horses, teach others the gift and maybe just maybe see and end to this. We’ve got property in Az. that can hold a couple of them very comfortably.

  9. Jenny says:

    How much did the American Cattlemen’s Association pay you, ASPCA and Return to Freedom to turn your back on wild horses? Anything they and Rep. Chris Stewart support goes to support wild horse slaughter (or exportation for the same reason).
    The vague language of the proposal – and lack of enforcement – is going to send a lot more American horses to Canada and Mexico.

    Shame on you

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