Horse Advocates Demand an End to Capture and Slaughter

Darien, Connecticut — In the past two weeks, 41 wild horses have been slaughtered under a new law that makes it easier to round up older horses and kill them.

The recent killings began on the 18th of April, when Dustin Herbert of Oklahoma seized upon a statute signed by President Bush in December, and purchased six horses in Colorado. The former rodeo clown said the horses would be used for a church youth program. Those horses were later sent to the Cavel International slaughterhouse in DeKalb, Illinois. This week, 35 more horses were killed at the same plant.

Friends of Animals, an international animal advocacy organization supported by about 200,000 members, calls for a full moratorium on the government-sanctioned round-ups, sales and slaughter of free-living horses.

The group asks for a repeal of the Burns Amendment, which reversed a 34-year prohibition on the slaughter of wild horses. The Amendment, attached to the 3,000-page 2005 Appropriations Bill, enabled the Bureau of Land Management to sell off horses older than 10 who are not able to be adopted. Over 9,000 horses are currently at risk of being sold to slaughter.

The Bureau’s officials are under pressure from the Department of the Interior to cut herds in half by the end of 2005. About 37,000 wild horses compete with almost 95,000 cows on public lands, according to the Department of Agriculture, and ranchers are lobbying for more expedient round-ups.

Said Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral:

“Increasingly, our society only accepts other animals if they can be made into commodities � even if that means their death. So free-living horses are deemed unacceptable, particularly where they compete with ranch lands for water, space and sustenance. For those who respect free-living animals, it’s simply not enough to express outrage at their deaths: We must also stop supporting the profits of ranches. It’s time we acknowledge the connection between horsemeat and hamburgers.”

Recommendations for action from Friends of Animals:

Go to the root. The most important step any single member of the public can take in support of horses is to adopt a plant-based diet.

Demand public accountability: Demand a moratorium on the round-up and slaughter of free-living horses. Letters to your congress member should begin by clearly protesting the Burns Amendment to the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. Urge representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 297, introduced by Reps. Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY). Urge senators to co-sponsor S. 576, introduced by Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV).

Senator Conrad Burns (fax: 202.224.8594) introduced the wild horse slaughter amendment, and found support from Nevada Senators Harry Reid (fax: 202.224.7327) and John Ensign (fax: 202.228.2193). Concerned people everywhere should protest their move to privatize animals on federal lands.

At this time, action by the Bureau of Land Management is stalled in the controversy. Keep the pressure on. Write to Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior, 1849 C Street, N.W. , Washington DC 20240 (fax: 202.208.5048); Robert Abbey, Nevada State Director, Bureau of Land Management, 1340 Financial Blvd., Reno, NV 89502-2055 (fax: 775.861.6606); and Kathleen Clarke, Director, Bureau of Land Management, 1849 C Street NW Rm. 406-LS, Washington, D.C. 20240 (fax: 202.452.5124).

To track legislation and locate your Congress Members online, visit

Take Action

Please send the following letter to your state�s U.S. senators to support S-576 and U.S. Representatives to sponsor H.R. 297.

To find contact information for your local Congress members go to:

Dear Senator/Representative,

I urge you to co-sponsor [H.R. 297 introduced by Representatives Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY)] [S. 576 introduced by Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV)].

This bill would renew the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Act, reversing an amendment quietly introduced by Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) as a rider to the 2005 Appropriations Bill. The Burn Amendment unfortunately makes it easier to capture and kill free-living horses. As a voter, I am disturbed that the rider passed without a hearing or opportunity for public review. This is a federal issue � not just a decision for a few special interests and their supporters in Nevada.

The Burns Amendment undermines the intent of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Act. Passed without a single dissenting vote, the 1971 law was created to protect free-living horses in their natural habitat. Despite its objective, wild horse populations are continually dwindling. Over the past 100 years, free-living horses have steadily declined from over two million to less than 35,000.

I find no justification for capture and slaughter. From media reports and from press releases issued by researchers at Friends of Animals, I understand that the government is highly supportive of ranchers operating on public lands so that they can turn a healthy profit, while horses are privatized and systematically removed. I can no longer stand by and allow horses to be rounded up and slaughtered, while the government plays favorites to our nation�s ranchers.

Just recently the Bureau of Land Management declared a moratorium on round- ups after 41 horses were slaughtered in two weeks under the Burns Amendment. But I fear without thorough investigation, the round ups will continue. In addition to co-sponsoring [H.R. 297] [S. 576], I also urge you to support a continued moratorium on round-ups of horses and burros.

I respectfully request a prompt response from you stating your position with regard to [H.R. 297] [S. 576] which would restore the prohibition on the commercial sale and slaughter of wild horses and burros.


  • Rep Abercrombie, Neil [HI-1] – 4/6/2005
  • Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] – 3/17/2005
  • Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] – 4/6/2005
  • Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23] – 3/7/2005
  • Rep Cardin, Benjamin L. [MD-3] – 4/21/2005
  • Rep Case, Ed [HI-2] – 2/9/2005
  • Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] – 3/7/2005
  • Rep Cummings, Elijah E. [MD-7] – 3/7/2005
  • Rep Davis, Tom [VA-11] – 3/17/2005
  • Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] – 3/7/2005
  • Rep DeLauro, Rosa L. [CT-3] – 4/28/2005
  • Rep Engel, Eliot L. [NY-17] – 3/9/2005
  • Rep Etheridge, Bob [NC-2] – 3/7/2005
  • Rep Evans, Lane [IL-17] – 4/28/2005
  • Rep Farr, Sam [CA-17] – 4/6/2005
  • Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] – 4/6/2005
  • Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] – 4/6/2005
  • Rep Goode, Virgil H., Jr. [VA-5] – 2/9/2005
  • Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] – 3/9/2005
  • Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] – 3/9/2005
  • Rep Inslee, Jay [WA-1] – 2/1/2005
  • Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] – 2/1/2005
  • Rep Kennedy, Patrick J. [RI-1] – 3/17/2005
  • Rep Kildee, Dale E. [MI-5] – 2/9/2005
  • Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. [OH-10] – 2/15/2005
  • Rep Larsen, Rick [WA-2] – 3/9/2005
  • Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] – 3/17/2005
  • Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18] – 2/15/2005
  • Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] – 2/15/2005
  • Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] – 2/1/2005
  • Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] – 3/7/2005
  • Rep McNulty, Michael R. [NY-21] – 3/7/2005
  • Rep Menendez, Robert [NJ-13] – 3/7/2005
  • Rep Miller, George [CA-7] – 2/15/2005
  • Rep Moore, Gwen [WI-4] – 4/6/2005
  • Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] – 3/7/2005
  • Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] – 3/9/2005
  • Rep Olver, John W. [MA-1] – 3/9/2005
  • Rep Price, David E. [NC-4] – 3/17/2005
  • Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] – 2/9/2005
  • Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-9] – 3/7/2005
  • Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-16] – 3/7/2005
  • Rep Spratt, John M., Jr. [SC-5] – 4/28/2005
  • Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] – 3/7/2005
  • Rep Sweeney, John E. [NY-20] – 3/9/2005
  • Rep Tauscher, Ellen O. [CA-10] – 2/9/2005
  • Rep Tierney, John F. [MA-6] – 3/17/2005
  • Rep Udall, Mark [CO-2] – 4/21/2005
  • Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] – 2/9/2005
  • Rep Whitfield, Ed [KY-1] – 1/25/2005
  • Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] – 2/9/2005
  • Rep Wu, David [OR-1] – 3/17/2005


  • Sen Boxer, Barbara [CA] – 4/4/2005
  • Sen Lautenberg, Frank R. [NJ] – 4/4/2005
  • Sen Levin, Carl [MI] – 4/26/2005
  • Sen Obama, Barack [IL] – 4/21/2005

Bureau of Land Management Approves Rules To Benefit Ranchers

Update: 14 April 2006 – After answering some of the more than 18,000 comments submitted by unspecified sources in reaction to its controversial new grazing rules, in a recently published addendum, the Bureau of Land Management has decided to finalize the proposals. The changes, to be published in the Federal Register shortly, relax the rules and regulations governing ranchers on public land.

The latest policies include provisions allowing:

  • Ranchers to share title to wells, pipelines and other resources with the federal government.
  • State, county, local and tribal grazing boards to have a greater say in decisions made on public land. Many who sit on these local boards are ranchers themselves.
  • No more three-year resting requirements. Now, if ranchers want cattle returned to their land before three years, the Bureau will review annually.
  • Ranchers to have two years instead of the original one year to implement a change, such as reducing the number of cattle they graze, after the agency orders that reduction.
  • If ranchers must make large-scale reductions (10% plus), they’ll get five years to make these major changes.
  • Conservation use permits, formerly issued by the Secretary of the Interior and used to prohibit grazing for up to ten years, will become illegal.
  • The federal government to give states rights to water used by ranchers on federal land.
  • The public to be banned from engaging in the day-to-day decision-making process of state and local grazing boards.

Giving more rights to public lands ranchers, who already lease the land at well-below-market prices, decimate the landscape and push many free-living animals, including wild horses, to the brink of extinction, is intolerable. It is only by denying ranchers a profit that they will ever cease to siphon land and resources from the government, and the wildlife it is supposed to protect. To do this, we must limit society’s demand for beef and all the products ranchers produce.