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July 17, 2009

The HSUS Hails US House Vote to Save Wild Horses, Millions of Tax Dollars

The Humane Society of the United States

WASHINGTON — The Humane Society of the United States applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the "Restore Our American Mustangs" (ROAM) Act, H.R. 1018, a federal bill to protect wild horses and burros from commercial sale and slaughter, while at the same time implementing proactive solutions to manage wild horses that will save millions of tax dollars.

H.R. 1018 passed by 239-185. It was introduced by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee Chairman Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and requires the Bureau of Land Management to make humane management of horses an agency priority, diminishing the need for costly roundups and large-scale housing of captive wild horses.

The bill, if adopted by the Senate and signed by the President, is expected to save millions of tax dollars each year, directing BLM to use fertility control more widely and allowing the agency to let horses to occupy more of the public lands they once inhabited.

"BLM's current program of rounding up wild horses and keeping them in federal holding pens is a fiscal and animal care disaster," said Wayne Pacelle, The Humane Society of the United States' president and CEO. "We have got to get off the current treadmill of spending millions of tax dollars rounding up wild horses and caring for them in captivity, and instead make wider use of fertility control as a humane population management tool."

In addition to prioritizing on-the-range management over roundups, H.R. 1018 prevents the commercial sale and slaughter of wild horses, as well as the wholesale killing of healthy wild horses. Last summer, in response to self-inflicted financial problems and mismanagement, the BLM announced that it would consider killing 30,000 healthy wild horses and burros in federal holding centers across the United States rather than implementing common sense, cost-saving management methods.

"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 Chairman Rahall. "This legislation will ensure the continued presence of those wild horses that make their homes on public lands."

H.R. 1018 allows horses to occupy lands that they formerly occupied, allowing the BLM to find additional, suitable acreage for these animals. Further, it requires consistency and accuracy in the management of wild horse and burro herds, and creates sanctuaries for wild horse and burro populations on public lands. Other management tools contained in H.R. 1018 — more aggressive adoptions, contraception and other management efficiencies — provide long-term savings.

The House soundly rejected an amendment by House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings, R-Wash., to narrow the bill to deal solely with the issue of wild horse slaughter. This bill would not have addressed the cost savings or humane management options, and it was voted down 348 - 74.

Background:

  • For more than 30 years, 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.
  • A midnight maneuver by former Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., gutted these longstanding protections.
  • 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.
  • HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle testified before the U.S. National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee in support of the Release Our American Mustangs Act ("ROAM") Act, H.R. 1018, in March 2009.
  • In April 2009, the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee approved H.R. 1018.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. 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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