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US Reps. Rahall, Grijalva Introduce Bill to Stop Slaughter of America's Wild Horses

The Humane Society of the United States

WASHINGTON — A bill to restore the 34-year ban on the commercial sale and slaughter of America's wild, free-roaming horses and burros (H.R. 1018) was introduced today by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., and National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee Chairman Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz. In the 110th Congress, similar legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives by more than a two-to-one margin with a vote of 277 to 137. The Humane Society of the United States commends the representatives for taking quick action to make this one of their top priorities of the 111th Congress.

In addition to preventing the commercial sale and slaughter of wild horses, H.R. 1018 prevents wholesale killing of healthy wild horses, prioritizes on-the-range management over roundups (including immunocontraception as a population control strategy that will save tax dollars), and prohibits particularly cruel round up methods, such as the use of helicopters and other airborne devices.

"Congressmen Rahall and Grijalva are seeking to protect the rightful place of wild horses on our public lands in the West and to stop the misuse of tax dollars on inhumane round-ups," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "They have been tireless in their efforts to correct the past mismanagement of this program and to get the program on the right footing."

Today's actions seek to restore the federal protections for wild horses and burros from sale and slaughter for human consumption overseas. Wild horses and burros had been protected from commercial sale and slaughter since the passage of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. The longstanding protections for wild horses were gutted by a controversial, midnight rider slipped into an omnibus spending bill by former Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., in late 2004. Burns was defeated in the 2006 election.

"It is unacceptable for wild horses to be slaughtered without any regard for the general health, well-being, and conservation of these iconic animals that embody the spirit of our American West," said Rep. Rahall. "Introduction of this legislation will ensure the continued presence of those wild horses that make their homes on public lands."

"Our wild horses are being harmed by antiquated policies," said Rep. Grijalva. "These policies must be updated to reflect Americans' desire to see these horses protected. We must not lose these majestic icons of the West."

This legislation comes on the heels of the Bureau of Land Management's controversial announcement last year that it was considering killing large numbers of wild horses taken from the rangeland. The Humane Society of the United States, with other wild horse and animal welfare groups, have worked with the agency to identify appropriate alternatives to wholesale slaughter of these animals. The HSUS is offering its partnership in immunocontraception programs that allow horses to remain on public lands and prevent the need for round up and removal of wild horses, saving millions of tax dollars.


The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org. 

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