Nevada Democratic Reps. Susie Lee and Dina Titus signed on to a letter Monday objecting to the U.S. Forest Service’s impending plan to sell federally protected wild horses “without restrictions on slaughter.”
Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) sent a bipartisan letter signed by 64 members of Congress, including Titus and Lee, to the chief of the U.S. Forest Service after the agency removed nearly 1,000 of California’s largest herd of wild horses from the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory in Modoc National Forest.
The U.S. Forest Service has indicated it intends to sell the rounded-up wild horses for as little as $1 per horse “without limitation,” potentially starting this month.
“We are deeply troubled by this proposal as it represents a severe abdication of the government’s responsibility to manage these federally-protected horses humanely,” reads the letter. “The Forest Service’s proposal would put wild horses at risk of being killed for food, and goes against California’s existing law prohibiting the sale or transfer of horses for human consumption.”
California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and 23 members of the California state Legislature have also written to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to voice concerns with the Forest Service’s plan. The Forest Service is under the Agriculture Department.
“It’s appalling that a federal agency would abandon its responsibility to protect wild horses from this gruesome fate,” said Joanna Grossman an equine program manager for The Animal Welfare Institute, a nonprofit dedicated the preservation of wild horses. “Americans undeniably and overwhelmingly cherish these animals. For our wild horses to end up as horse meat in foreign supermarkets is unconscionable. The option to sell federally protected horses as cheaply as possible and with no restrictions on slaughter should not even be under consideration.”
Nevada has the largest concentration of wild horses in the nation — an estimated 32,000, compared to California’s 5,000. Titus in the past has described wild horses as “a source of pride for our residents, visitors, and tribal communities” in Nevada.