Federal lawmakers today introduced legislation to prevent the establishment of horse slaughter operations within the U.S., end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horse meat. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R. 1942, was introduced by Reps. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.).
Last year, more than 140,000 American horses were slaughtered for human consumption in foreign countries. The animals often suffer long journeys to slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico without adequate food, water or rest. At the slaughterhouse, horses are brutally forced into a "kill box" and shot in the head with a captive bolt gun in an attempt to stun them before slaughter—a process that can be inaccurate due to the biology and nature of equines and result in animals sustaining repeated blows or remaining conscious during the kill process.
"For centuries, horses have embodied the spirit of American freedom and pride," said Rep. Guinta. "To that end, horses are not raised for food – permitting their transportation for the purposes of being slaughtered for human consumption is not consistent with our values and results in a dangerously toxic product. This bipartisan bill seeks to prevent and end the inhumane and dangerous process of transporting thousands of horses a year for food."
"Horses sent to slaughter are often subject to appalling, brutal treatment," said Rep. Schakowsky. "We must fight those practices. The SAFE Act of 2015 will ensure that these majestic animals are treated with the respect they deserve."
"The slaughter of horses for human consumption is an absolute travesty that must be stopped," said Rep. Buchanan. "This bipartisan measure will finally put an end to this barbaric practice."
"Horse slaughter is an inhumane practice that causes great pain and distress to the animals, and poses numerous environmental and food safety concerns," said Rep. Lujan Grisham.
"The vast majority of my constituents oppose horse slaughter. I'm proud to support the SAFE Act to ban this cruelty once and for all."
The SAFE Act would also protect consumers from dangerous American horse meat, which can be toxic to humans due to the unregulated administration of drugs to horses. Because horses are not raised for food, they are routinely given hundreds of toxic drugs and chemical treatments over their lifetimes that are prohibited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in animals intended for human consumption. Those drugs, although safe for horses, are potentially toxic to humans if consumed. In December 2014, the European Union (EU) announced its suspension of imports of horse meat from Mexico after a scathing audit of EU-certified Mexican horse slaughter plants, which kill tens of thousands of American horses each year. Additionally, the discovery of horse meat in beef products in Europe shocked consumers and raised concerns about the potential impact on American food industries.
Help Ban Horse Slaughter Nationwide! Contact Congress in support of the SAFE Act. Passage of the SAFE Act will not only ensure that predatory horse slaughterers can't reopen their doors here in the USA—it will also stop the trafficking of horses to slaughterhouses over American borders. Click Here to Take Action!
The National Park Service (NPS) is currently studying the use of fertility control vaccines to control feral horse populations on NPS lands.
Jenny Powers, DVM, PhD, an NPS wildlife veterinarian, shared preliminary results during a presentation at the 2014 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 6-10 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Managers at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota are seeking ways to control feral horse populations that include alternatives to helicopter roundups and sales.
The horses, which some consider culturally significant and suggest are the origin of the Nokota breed, share the same range as elk, pronghorn, mule and white-tail deer, and bison in the 46,000-acre park, necessitating careful resource allocation and equine population management, Powers said.
In October 2009 NPS started a study using a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) immunocontraceptive vaccine on mares in the park. First, park managers rounded up and removed half the park’s horses. They then blocked the remaining mature mares by age, body condition, and reproductive status. They separated the horses into a treatment group of 29 and a nontreatment group of 28 individual mares.
The treatment group received 2 mL of GnRH vaccine. The control group received 2 mL of saline. Most mares were pregnant at the time of treatment. “The GnRH vaccine we used showed promise as a multiyear vaccine after giving a single dose," Powers said. "This is highly unusual for a vaccine to work for more than a year and would greatly improve the efficiency over currently available fertility control vaccines.”
Over the next four years, NPS researchers observed the mares for:
In the first foaling season, 2010, researchers saw no statistical change in foaling or foal survival rates, as was expected because most animals were pregnant at the time of vaccination, and there was no difference in foal survival between treated and control mares, Powers said.
In the second foaling season (the first expected to be affected by vaccination), the proportion of treated mares that foaled was 35% less than untreated mares. The third foaling season saw the proportion of treated mares that foaled 30% less than untreated mares. But the fourth foaling season, researchers observed no statistical difference in foaling rates between treated and untreated mares.
NPS managers observed minimal changes to reproductive behaviors or time budgets, Powers said. Of the treated mares, 80% had injection site swelling one to four years after treatment.
Overall, NPS researchers found a single vaccination with the GnRH vaccine provided a modest decrease foaling rates for two years post-vaccination and had little effect on social behaviors, she said, adding that treated mares had no more or less reproductive interaction with stallions than untreated mares.
She also said treated mares did have apparent inflammatory reactions at injection site, but this did not appear to affect their well-being, as they did not become lame or lose body condition.
“The NPS is currently studying the efficacy of revaccination four years after the first vaccination, and researchers are interested in how long a booster vaccine might last and how effective it can be at preventing pregnancy,” Powers concluded.
Source: The Horse
Click Here to view white paper, presented at the AAEP conference