The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:
As the dust settles on the Fiscal Year 2020 spending agreement reached by Congress this week, we wanted you to know that the fight is far from over and that there will be ample opportunities for us to defend wild horses and burros in the New Year.
We also want to highlight two significant positives that were included in the spending bill that are a direct result of your advocacy and leadership from key officials in Congress.
Congress attached strings to the $21 million budget increase for the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program
The spending bill states that the additional funding will not be made available until 60 days after BLM submits a report to Congress detailing its plan for future wild horse management. This is a direct result of alarm bells raised by House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raul Grijalva, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Chair Deb Haaland and ten of their colleagues about increasing the agency’s budget by nearly 30% without following proper oversight channels.
While we remain disappointed that Congress awarded the BLM millions more tax dollars without strict requirements to prevent BLM from using all the funds to round up and sterilize wild horses, this new provision is a significant improvement over previous versions of the spending bill. It gives the House committee with oversight over the BLM — the Natural Resources Committee — a chance to scrutinize the plan and, potentially, take steps to rein in the BLM, before funding is authorized.
Huge thanks for this major development goes to Grijalva, Haaland, Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler, and their colleagues who formed this bipartisan effort to protect our wild horses and burros by signing a letter to request proper oversight.
Forest Service Wild Horse and Burro Slaughter Ban
Another positive development in the FY 2020 spending bill is language that prohibits the U.S. Forest Service from destroying healthy wild horses and burros and selling them for slaughter. Previously, Congress prohibited the BLM from lethal management of wild horses and burros, but the ban did not extend to the Forest Service, which manages a much smaller but still significant number of federally-protected wild horses and burros in the West.
The expanded prohibition is a direct response to the Forest Service’s threat to sell California wild horses for slaughter and a result of the leadership of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein — a long time champion of horse welfare — and U.S. Reps. Ted Lieu, Dina Titus, Grijalva, and California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria who worked with AWHC to pass legislation to improve protections for California’s horses from slaughter.
Everyone who contacted their elected officials over this past year to seek protections for our cherished wild horses and burros should take a moment to appreciate the fact that our grassroots advocacy is working. Although this work is a marathon, not a sprint, and there are disappointments along the way, we are making progress on the road to saving America’s iconic wild herds.
So, as we fire up our legislative and legal teams for the challenges ahead, we want to thank you for staying strong and committed. You are the key ingredient to our successful advocacy for our wild horses and burros, and together, we remain the last line of defense between these beloved animals and their destruction.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
The AWHC team
On BLM Funding Increase:
- Push to Accelerate Mustang Roundups Draws Fire in Congress
- Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Seeks Limits on Funding for BLM Wild Horse Roundups
- Letter from Rep. Grijalva & 11 House Colleagues to Appropriations Committee
On Forest Service selling wild horses for slaughter:
- Senator Feinstein to Forest Service: Don’t Sell Horses for Slaughter
- 64 House Members Take A Stand Against CA Mustang Slaughter
- California Legislators Urge Federal Ban on Forest Service Wild Horse Slaughter
- Gloria Successfully Strengthens California Horse Protection Laws