House Committee Passes BLM Funding Bill

The bill would allow the BLM to transfer horses and burros to other government agencies for use as work animals.

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The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has passed a funding bill that would allow the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to transfer of excess animals from holding facilities to other federal, state, or local government agencies for use as work animals. However, some wild horse advocates believe the measure could put the animals at risk.

The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 protects wild horses and burros and places them under BLM jurisdiction. The act does prohibit the agency from selling horses and burros without reservation—that is, to any buyer—or euthanizing animals for which there is no adoption demand. However, the current BLM adoption contract forbids buyers from knowingly selling or giving away horses for processing into commercial products; those who do sell or transfer horses for processing face federal charges.

On July 18, the Appropriations Committee passed HR 5538, its 2018 bill for the Department of the Interior, which includes the BLM. The legislation contains $1.2 million for the BLM, along with the so-called Stewart Amendment, which would facilitate the transfer of excess wild horse removed from the range to federal, state, or local government agencies for use as work horses. Currently both the U.S. Border Patrol and the U.S. Army use BLM horses.

Under the amendment, any wild horse is transferred to other government agencies woiuld lose its “status as a wild free-roaming wild horse as defined by the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act.” However, the bill forbids any agency receiving the wild horses or burros from destroying them “in a way that results in their destruction into commercial products, or sell or otherwise transfer the horses in a way that results in their destruction for processing into commercial products

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Written by:

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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