The U.S. Senate’s proposed spending bill for fiscal 2018 calls for the Department of the Interior (DOI) to explore “politically viable” options for maintaining wild horse herds under Bureau of Land Management (BLM) jurisdiction.
The legislation differs from a budget bill passed in July by the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee that some wild horse advocates believe would ultimately allow the sale of unwanted mustangs for slaughter.
Released on Nov. 20 by the Senate’s Appropriations Committee, the proposed $32.6 billion DOI fiscal 2018 budget allocates $1.23 billion for the BLM, $16 million below the enacted amount enacted for fiscal 2017.
The measure also contains a so-called explanatory statement from the Committee’s chairman that calls for “a range of humane and politically viable options” to put the wild horse and burro program “on a path to sustainability.”
“The Committee again asserts its position that no one solution will resolve this issue,” the statement said, “and multiple approaches employed together are necessary to controlling the current unsustainable trajectory of wild horse and burro growth.”
Earlier this year, the House’s budget bill raised the ire of some wild horse advocates because it contained an amendment that would facilitate the transfer of wild horses removed from the range to federal, state, or local agencies for use as work horses. Under the amendment, those animals would lose their status as wild horses as defined by the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971.
Meanwhile, Susan Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign, commended the Senate for protecting wild horses.
“The Senate has heard the voice of Americans loud and clear,” she said.
The spending bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.