Source: KOLO News
RENO, Nev. -- Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials say they are installing water sprinklers at the wild horse enclosures in Palomino Valley in an effort to protect the horses from record-breaking heat.
On Friday, June 28th, the official temperature in Reno hit 103, breaking the previous record by three degrees. Record-breaking temperatures are expected to continue throughout the weekend and a Heat Advisory is in effect from 1pm Sunday to 10pm Tuesday.
The BLM says crews are installing the sprinklers in three of the large, outside pens and five mare/foal pens. The sprinklers are meant to reduce the heat levels inside the corrals. In addition, BLM staff will closely watch the horses react to the sprinklers to make sure they remain healthy.
In a press release, officials say shade shelters have been considered and the current policy is based on a number of things, including:
- Wild horses and burros are accustomed to open environments and when their nutritional demands are met, they do well against the natural elements, including sun, rain, snow, and hot and cold temperatures. At Palomino Valley, the animals are fed hay each day; mineral blocks are available in each pen; and a continuous supply of water is available via automatic waterers.
- Open corrals with plenty of sunlight have proven to be the best way to minimize disease-causing organisms. The BLM's open corrals enable the drying effects of the sun and wind to take effect. The corrals are sloped to minimize the pooling of precipitation in the pens and to allow it to channel to the exterior of the facility.
- Due to the temperament of the animals, the social hierarchy between the animals, and their unfamiliarity with shelters, the BLM feels that corrals without shelters are the safest approach. Shelters could create a potential obstacle for animals running and playing in the corrals, and cause significant injuries. The BLM has wind breaks and/or shelters for sick animals. The “sick
pens” do not have the same safety issues because the animals are in a smaller area with limited pressure from other animals."
Animal Welfare Groups Plan Suit in Response to USDA Decision to Support the Slaughter of Horses for Human Consumption
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given the green light for the grisly practice of horse slaughter to resume on U.S. soil. The agency approved an application for horse slaughter inspections under federal law at a plant in New Mexico. This news comes on the heels of the U.S. House and Senate appropriations committees’ votes to halt all funding for horse slaughter in FY 2014. The decision means that the federal government could potentially spend millions of taxpayer dollars to start up inspections at horse slaughter plants, only to have Congress terminate the process in the coming months.
In response to the USDA’s decision, The Humane Society of the United States and Front Range Equine Rescue plan to file suit immediately against the USDA to put a stop to this agency decision. The two groups previously informed USDA that they would take aggressive legal action against the agency, in light of the serious unresolved environmental and food safety issues surrounding horse slaughter.
Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS, said: “The USDA’s decision to start up domestic horse slaughter, while at the same time asking Congress to defund it, is bizarre and unwarranted. Slaughter plants have a history of polluting their communities and producing horsemeat that is tainted with a dangerous cocktail of banned drugs. We intend to hold the Obama administration accountable in federal court for this inhumane, wasteful and illegal decision.”
Hilary Wood, president of Front Range Equine Rescue, said: “America’s horses are not raised as food animals, and they receive numerous substances during their lives making them unfit and illegal for human consumption. Adding insult to injury, the suffering of the horses in the slaughter pipeline and the danger to humans makes this action more than inhumane. Horses bound for slaughter have many alternatives open to them including re-training, re-homing, and humane euthanasia. We remain committed to stopping this insult to justice and our sense of justice.”
The USDA’s approval is particularly surprising, considering the recent scandal in the European Union, where horsemeat was discovered in food products labeled as beef. The operation of horse slaughter plants in the U.S. will make it more difficult to prevent the commingling between horsemeat and beef products that occurred in Europe.
Horses are raised as pets and for use in show, sport, work and recreation in the U.S. and are regularly administered drugs that are expressly prohibited by current federal regulations for use in animals intended for human consumption. For example, a common pain reliever routinely administered to all types of horses, Phenylbutazone, is known to cause potentially fatal human diseases, and if the animal has taken the drug, the meat is adulterated and should not be eaten. There is also no system in the U.S. to track medications and veterinary treatments given to horses to ensure that their meat is safe.
Any facility slaughtering thousands of horses will necessarily be processing the blood, organs and remains of animals whose tissues and blood may contain significant amounts of dangerous substances, which are either known to be dangerous, or which have never been tested on humans and therefore present completely unknown dangers. At least six applications for horse slaughter inspections have been filed with the USDA.
- This month, the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations committees voted to block funding for inspections of horse slaughter plants. President Obama’s proposed FY 2014 budget also included a request for Congress to prevent tax dollars from supporting horse slaughter.
- The HSUS and FRER also filed petitions with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to declare horsemeat unfit for human consumption. USDA denied that petition.
- According to a national poll conducted last year, 80 percent of Americans disapprove of horse slaughter.
- “Kill buyers”gather up horses from random sources and profit by selling healthy horses for slaughter that bring the best price per pound for their meat. USDA reports show that approximately 92 percent of American horses going to slaughter are healthy and would otherwise be able to go on to lead productive lives.
- The methods used to kill horses rarely result in quick, painless deaths, as horses often endure repeated blows to render them unconscious and sometimes remain conscious during the slaughtering process. When horse slaughter plants previousl operated in the U.S., the USDA documented severe injuries to horses in the slaughter pipeline, including broken bones and eyeballs hanging from a thread of skin.
- The Safeguard American Food Exports Act, H.R. 1094 / S. 541, introduced this year by U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., is abipartisan measure that would outlaw horse slaughter operations in the U.S., end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horsemeat.
June 28, 2013 Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC--Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) released the following statement today regarding the Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s decision to begin federal inspections of a horse slaughter facility. The decision means that one plant in the United States may now engage in horse slaughter, something previously prohibited by annual appropriations bills.
“Congress should promptly reinstate the provision that prohibited spending federal dollars to inspect horse slaughter facilities and I am encouraged my colleagues have taken steps to do so. I will continue my work to prevent horse slaughter in the pending agriculture appropriations bill.”
DeLauro, former chair of the subcommittee responsible for funding the USDA, ensured federal funds could not be used to inspect such facilities in the United States during her tenure as subcommittee chair. After taking over the House majority in 2011, Republicans failed to continue that practice. The Obama Administration’s proposed budget asks Congress to reinstate
that provision, which would result in the practice once again being banned.
During the Appropriation Committee’s consideration of the agriculture appropriations bill earlier this month, DeLauro spoke in support of an amendment to reinstate the ban. That amendment was accepted, as was a similar amendment in the Senate’s counterpart bill.