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Will thousands of wild horses die? That depends on Ken Calvert, advocates say

By in Press Enterprise on July 9, 2017

By Jeff Horseman

The fate of thousands of wild horses and burros could hinge on an Inland congressman and a few sentences in the upcoming federal budget.

Wild horse advocates say proposed language in the fiscal 2018 budget would open the door for the mass killing of horses roaming millions of acres of federal land. They’re appealing to Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, to strip the language out of the spending bill, which is being crafted this month.

Calvert, who has been honored for his animal advocacy, heads the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees Department of the Interior spending. As such, he could play a key role in whether the department is allowed to euthanize horses and sell them to slaughterhouse buyers.

“Riverside is the center of the political universe when it comes to deciding the future of an American icon,” said Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign.

Horses and burros “are living symbols of the historic spirit of the West,” said Katia Louise, president of the Wild For Life Foundation, a horse advocacy group with an office in Riverside. “They contribute to the diversity of life forms within the nation and enrich the lives of the American people.”

In an email Wednesday, July 5, Calvert gave no indication of where he stood.

“The massive and growing number of wild horses and burros on our public lands throughout the West is a tremendous challenge,” he said. “The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) working together with Congress and other interested parties need to find long-term strategies to address this imbalance.”

Unless things change, overpopulation will lead to wild horses dying of starvation and thirst and widespread environmental damage, said the executive director of a group representing sheep and cattle ranchers with grazing permits on public lands.

“We don’t like the animal welfare disaster we see unfolding […]    

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