Lawmakers are again trying to stop horses from being slaughtered and sent abroad for food.
The House adopted a provision Thursday that would prohibit the Bureau of Land Management from selling wild horses and burros to slaughterhouses. By voice vote, the amendment was attached to a spending bill for the Department of the Interior, the BLM's parent agency.
American horse meat is sold mostly for consumption in Europe and Asia, though some goes to U.S. zoos.
"Horses are icons in American culture," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. "They took us into battle, provided us with transportation and even carried our mail."
"They shouldn't be sent to slaughter to be dismembered for overseas consumers," Pacelle said.
Defenders of the practice said slaughter is more humane than allowing wild horses to die of starvation.
"When you talk about a horse dying a natural death on the range, it's not a pretty picture," said former Rep. Charlie Stenholm, D-Texas, a consultant to the slaughter plants. "Having a coyote or wolf eating a dying horse is not a pretty picture."
Pacelle argued that horses can be skittish, making them prone to thrash about when they are frightened.
"They see other horses that are being slaughtered and they are terrified," Pacelle said.
Stenholm said horses are treated better than other animals, such as cattle and chickens, at slaughter plants.
"We do a pretty darn good job regarding the welfare of the animals that are going to be slaughtered," Stenholm said.
I thought this was an interesting article, considering the beef industry's latest trials with exports to Japan and Mad Cow disease, as well as the poultry producers' bouts with Avian Flu--both of which have received plenty of media exposure.
While I agree with the argument based on systemic overpopulation, the argument about "natural deaths" and those at the mouths of coyotes is odd--isn't this the way things are supposed to be in nature? Granted, horses were an accidental introduction into the American ecosystem, but the point remains--they've assimilated and adapted to their habitat and have become a vital part of the great circle of life. Anything less than the maintenance of that balance
My apologies if this has already been discussed, but my seach didn't discern anything. If this is a duplicate thread, please delete. Thank you.