- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 2, 2017

An interest group devoted to protecting the nation’s wild horses is warning that a change in federal law tucked into the omnibus spending package could lead to exploitation of the creatures and a diminishing of their number on federal lands.

In a Tuesday news release, the American Wild Horse Campaign says that language in Section 116 of the spending bill up for vote in Congress this week would allow the federal Bureau of Land Management to “strip wild horses of federal protection and transfer them to states and local governments for use as ‘work animals.’”

“Although the language includes prohibitions on sale for slaughter and offers some restrictions on the use of euthanasia, it expressly authorizes the killing of certain wild horses and burros and contains numerous loopholes that could result in the destruction of thousands of healthy wild horses and burros either directly or by sending them into the slaughter pipeline,” AWHC said.

Among other complaints, the AWHC said language in the omnibus bill contains “[n]o provisions for accountability, transparency or accounting for the fates of transferred horses and no penalty for violating the provisions” of the law.

Furthermore, according to the AWHC, unbranded wild horses transferred out of federal custody would become unaccounted for and prove “untraceable if/when they entered the slaughter pipeline.”

The California-based group “is outraged that Congress snuck into the Omnibus a middle-of-the-night addition that will strip up to 50,000 wild horses and burros of federal protections that were passed unanimously by Congress and have been in place for nearly 50 years,” said executive director Suzanne Roy, who complained that “devastating provision” was folded into the omnibus “in the middle of the night without a public hearing.”

“It’s this sort of governance that fuels the public’s distrust and cynical view of Congress,” Ms. Roy added. “We call on Congress to remove the Section 116 provision from the 2017 Omnibus, or, if this is not possible, then by fixing this problem when this legislation expires in five months.”

On its official Facebook page, the AWHC this evening is urging its supporters to take action. “Your help is needed immediately!” reads the posting. A linked “Take Action” page at the AWHC website urges supporters to call the Republican chairmen and Democratic ranking members of the relevant congressional committees that approved the language’s inclusion in the omnibus.

AWHC gives its supporters a short script to guide them on their phone calls to Congress.

“I am very upset that Congress has put language in the Omnibus spending bill that will strip up to 50,000 wild horses and burros of federal protections that were passed unanimously by Congress and have been in place for nearly 50 years,” the phone script begins, going on to conclude by urging Congress to “remove this destructive language from the Omnibus, and if unable, then it must be removed when this spending bill expires later this year.”

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