Horse deaths anger animal advocates
Law passed last year clears way for sales to meat plants, fueling demands for ban--from the Las Vegas-Review Journal
WASHINGTON -- Animal advocates on Friday demanded Interior Secretary Gale Norton stop wild horse sales until the government writes new rules to protect them from being slaughtered.
A House member said this week's destruction of six horses would ring a "wake-up call" for Congress to re-examine a law it passed last year relaxing sales of the animals.
Government officials and wild horse groups stepped up investigations Friday after the disclosure that the horses were bought April 15 and resold to a meat plant in DeKalb, Ill., three days later.
The horses were the first to be reported slaughtered since Congress last year relaxed a 34-year-old ban on the slaughter of horses sold or offered for adoption after being rounded up on public land by the Bureau of Land Management.
The initial buyer was identified Friday by horse advocate groups as Dustin Herbert of Meeker, Okla. Two government sources confirmed Herbert as the purchaser...
...BLM officials said the Oklahoma buyer misrepresented himself but that there is no legal recourse against him. The buyer said the horses would be used in a troubled youth program, they said.
Animal advocates said Herbert purchased six horses from a BLM holding facility in Canyon City, Colo., and sold them directly to the slaughter plant.
Government officials later confirmed the location of the holding facility but could not say whether the animals were sold directly or through an intermediary...
..."This guy certainly turned the horses around very quickly, so it sounds like he had the intention to slaughter them all along," said Chris Heyde, policy analyst for the Society for Animal Protective Legislation.
Reps. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., sent Norton a letter Friday demanding that the BLM craft regulations for horse sales.
BLM officials have said it was not necessary to write such rules.
"Our directive from Congress is to sell the horses, period," Boddington said.
Rahall and Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., introduced a bill earlier this year to repeal the law that authorized the new sales. It has attracted little support and has not been scheduled for hearings.
"What has transpired here is a wake-up call to the Congress," Rahall said in a statement.
Animal rights groups suggested the government could sue Herbert for fraud if he signed a BLM bill of sale stating the purchasers "intend and desire to provide humane care to the wild horse(s) and/or burros."
But Boddington said the BLM cannot sue a buyer for slaughtering a horse, because the animals are considered private property once the sale is completed...
...The Senate last week approved legislation by Reid and Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., that earmarked $5 million for a privately run horse center in Northern Nevada
"Nobody wants to see wild horses and burros sold to slaughter and the best way to prevent that is to reform the BLM's wild horse and burro adoption program," Reid said.
John Lopez, Ensign's deputy chief of staff, said Ensign would introduce legislation banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption.
"Senator Ensign's bill would ensure there are no more outlets for slaughter," Lopez said. "It would shut down the slaughterhouses in the United States."
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