WASHINGTON -- April 22 -- The American Horse Defense Fund is angry and sad to have broken the news today to many other concerned national and regional organizations, that the first of the Burns Wild Horses were reported slaughtered at the Cavel International slaughter plant in Dekalb, IL. "Although it was six wild horses whose blood was spilled, it could have been 60 or 200. Virtually any and all of the wild horses sold recently under the new Burns sale authority are in jeopardy-the change was a disaster waiting to happen and now it has" said Trina Bellak, Esq., AHDF president. There are more than 7,500 now at immediate risk due to this recent and reprehensible change in the long-standing, widely supported law that passed Congress with a unanimous vote in 1971.
The 34 year old protection from slaughter granted to wild horses and burros roaming a number of the nation's states, was unilaterally repealed by Montana Senator Conrad Burns last December. There were no hearings, no public opportunity for comment and the vast majority of Congress was caught unaware. Bills now before Congress, H.R. 297 by West Virginia Representative Nick Rahall, and S. 576 by West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd, would reinstate the protections. The House bill has almost 50 cosponsors. " Passage of these bills is extremely urgent" said Ginger Kathrens, Emmy award winning film maker and author of the book and TV PBS special, Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies. Cloud and his band live in Montana and may well be subject to round up and dangerous fates later this year.
Upon learning of this tragedy from the Bureau of Land Management, (BLM) Congressman Rahall said "We feared this would happen, but we prayed that it would not, even without the legal protections that were stripped from America's wild horses in a legislative maneuver late last year. Unfortunately, the merchants of slaughter will not give up. What has transpired here is a wake up call to the Congress, and evidence as to why immediate action should be taken on my legislation to restore the ban on the commercial sale for slaughter of our Nation's wild horse heritage."
"Our nation's wild horses are under attack. They will not be safe again until these bills are passed and policy designed to preserve and protect them is the law. The BLM should halt all sales in light of undeniable proof that they cannot safeguard even small numbers of horses," added Bellak. The buyer apparently posed as a minister claiming the horses would be used in a troubled youth program. The BLM reported the sale took place in Oklahoma Friday, April 15th and the horses were slaughtered Monday in Illinois.
Regulations specifying screening procedures and safeguards were suggested in writing to the BLM by the American Horse Defense Fund and members of a national coalition including The Humane Society of the US, American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, Wild Horse & Burro Freedom Alliance, ASPCA, American Humane Association, Return To Freedom, International Society for the Protection of Mustangs & Burros, American Horse Protection Association and Animal Welfare Institute.
For more information, go to http://www.AHDF.org and http://www.wildhorsepreservation.com.
AHDF is the nation's active horse protection, education and advocacy nonprofit.