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House Appropriations Committee could determine the fate of wild horses and burros on public lands

By in Press Enterprise on July 17, 2017

By Jeff Horseman

A Tuesday, July 18, meeting in Washington, D.C., could determine whether thousands of wild horses and burros on public lands will face euthanasia or sale to slaughterhouses.

At the meeting, the House Appropriations Committee will review the fiscal 2018 spending bill for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency and related areas. The review is commonly referred to as a markup.

Included in the $31.4 billion bill is language that forbids the killing or sale for slaughter of wild horses and burros roaming millions of acres in the West.

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That language has been a part of prior House spending bills. But the Trump administration wants to take out the language to deal with what officials say is a horse overpopulation problem that threatens to damage public lands and overwhelm the budget for the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.

Wild horse advocacy groups have mobilized to keep the language, saying wild horses are an enduring symbol of the West. Advocates question the BLM’s horse population data and fault the bureau for not aggressively pursuing birth control vaccines to curb the herd’s numbers.

They’ve also pressured Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, who chairs the appropriations subcommittee that deals with interior spending. The American Wild Horse Campaign on Monday, July 17, released a poll showing 78 percent of voters in Calvert’s district favor the ban on wild horse slaughter.

“Sanctioning the slaughter of tens of thousands of horses is a disgraceful, shameful idea. It is an unacceptable idea that […]    

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