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On this Vital Amendment to protect Horses from Slaughter

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I had a vision of eagles and horses
High on a ridge in a race with the wind

John Denver

On this Vital Amendment to protect Horses from Slaughter

S. 1915, The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (AHSPA) reintroduced and sponsored by Senator and Veterinarian John Ensign, (R-NV) and Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) to prohibit the killing of horses and other Equines for human consumption

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By Linda Zoblotsky

Seven out of ten Americans oppose horse slaughter and the destruction of wild horses. This poll was conducted among 800 people in August by Public Opinion Strategies right before the House voted in favor of a bill that would end killing horses for human consumption.

I was a teenage cowgirl growing up in Oklahoma with my horse, Zebo. I rode Zebo for both pleasure and competition. Zebo lived on 200 acres of rolling pasture and leafy woods and watering holes. At the beginning of the day, I would find Zebo having a good time consuming sweet grass and alfalfa. It was my honor that he allowed me to ride him on his range. At the end of the day, I didn't have long to say good-bye to Zebo. He was ready to run away. He would walk faster and faster out the barn door and turn around for one more look at me. Like a rocket he would run full blast towards the sunset!

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The Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940 prohibits the sale and barter, import and export, and possession of eagles, making it illegal for anyone to collect eagles and eagle parts, nests or eggs without a permit. The flying eagle represents freedom in U.S. skies and in our dreams. The wild horses roaming 10 Western states and in small areas of the East coast are a vision of free spirit roaming the good green earth.

During the 1800s over 2 million wild horses roamed the prairies. Horses running free, that once belonged to the Spanish explorers, are also referred to as mustangs. Wild burros, also known as donkeys and jackasses, live throughout the North American hot deserts. Many formerly domestic burros became wild after their masters had perished in the harsh desert environment.

Some people making a living in the west from agriculture say that protection of the horses is for the city dwellers. In order to remove wild horses from public lands, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has claimed that horses are destroying critical habitat, competing for grazing lands, and overpopulating.

Wild horses contribute to the environment in very important ways including the dispersal of intact seed from native plants. In fact their manure helps to keep plants alive in some areas and it is essential to the creation of nutrients in the building of soil in arid regions. When wild horses die, black bear, bobcat, wild dogs and mountain lions use them as an important food source. In cold winters, wild horses can paw through ice to expose water also making water available to smaller animals that can't break through ice.
Mustangs roam public lands about 10 miles a day and can survive by visiting a watering hole every 3-4 days. Wild horses, traveling in herds of 7 to 10, will not trample watering holes but simply drink, sometimes dunking to cool off before leaving in warm weather. Horses are much gentler to land than cattle, which also range on public lands. Domestic cattle do not roam and are lazier and harder on the areas they inhabit. Cattle will camp out near water sources and defecate in the water. Horses do not defecate in water. Cattle will decimate vegetation because they eat the roots of plants. Horses can break off plants with their teeth, leaving the roots in the ground to sprout fresh grass. Wild horses also play an important role in the prevention of wild fires because they will eat dry plants.
The American Horse Defense Fund is dedicated to research and protection. They keep tabs on what's out there on our public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) - 4.2+ million head of cattle and an estimated 25,000 wild horses. Last year 91,757 wild and domestic horses were slaughtered in one of the three foreign-owned, US-based horse slaughtering facilities located in Texas and Illinois. The Society for Animal Protective Legislation reports thousands-of horses are stolen each year. Horse thieves make quick money by unloading illegally. This horse meat is then exported. Americans are against consuming horse meat and the meat of other animals that we consider to be our pets. The BLM interprets and enforces certain laws while being under pressure from the livestock/cattle interests and politicians who would benefit from policies that eliminate wild horses.
The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was supposed to protect wild horses from wholesale extermination efforts by the BLM and ranchers grazing their private livestock on public lands. The eagles soar and watch over the land - and suburbs too. It is time for human beings to step outside our box stores and think of the well-being of wild horses and ask that the Federal government implement the laws that protect wild horses and burros. Grassroots efforts have demonstrated that wild horses living on our public lands are not harmful to the ranchers or the environment. On September 7th, the House voted 263 to 146 in favor of H.R. 503, The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (AHSPA), to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption and the domestic and international transport of live horses or horseflesh for the same purpose. In the debate leading up to the vote, bill sponsors Representative John Sweeney (R-N.Y.), Representative John Spratt (D-S.C.), Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Representative Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) effectively argued that we must protect these mostly healthy horses from being slaughtered. S. 1915, The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (AHSPA) now has 22 co-sponsors in the Senate.
Horses have been our trusted companions throughout history, and they deserve a more humane and dignified quality of life than being slaughtered and served for dinner.

 

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Linda Zoblotsky is Writer, Producer and Director of the entertaining and educational one-woman play, LINDA ZOBLOTSKY IS LUVCHILD, about adoption and an adopted adult's search for her Birthparents.

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