Wild horse advocates are furious with U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey for the keynote address he will give this week at a controversial conference sponsored by a group that promotes euthanasia and “humane slaughter” as a way of controlling mustang herds.
United Horsemen is the organization behind the “Summit of the Horse” conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Wyoming-based nonprofit group is currently lobbying for a slaughterhouse in their state where horses could be killed for human consumption.
Sue Wallis who is a rancher and founder of United Horsemen said the purpose of the summit is to find solutions to deal with the excess numbers of horses on federal land.
The list of speakers also points to a conference with an agenda.
The BLM chief will be talking alongside the USDA Slaughter Horse Transport Program, a Livestock Roundup Company that captures wild horses and burros, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and several representatives from Canada’s horse slaughter program.
The agenda even includes a lecture from a self-proclaimed “internationally renowned expert on the radical agenda and tactics of animal rights organizations worldwide.”
Ginger Kathrens, director of the horse advocacy group Cloud Foundation said, “The BLM’s significant participation in this slaughter summit is truly troubling.”
“The BLM needs to change course and begin listening to the American people who are calling for the protection and preservation of our wild herds, not to those who would profit from their flesh,” continued Kathrens.
BLM spokesperson Celia Boddington said Abbey is going to the summit because he has “an obligation to talk to all sides of the issue.”
“Since he has become BLM Director, Bob has emphasized outreach to all different groups on this issue,” she told the Associated Press. “It’s simply inappropriate for one side to say whom the BLM should be talking to. Everybody has a place at the table,” continued Boddington.
Boddington added that Abbey and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar remain firmly opposed to euthanasia for wild horses and burros.
The summit is expected to draw government officials, sportsmen, wildlife advocates, tribal officials, ranchers and experts in horse management.
United Horsemen admit they want to change Abbey’s policy.
Wallis summed it up this way, “What the federal government is doing is settling up a welfare entitlement program for horses, and we think it’s ridiculous. We want horse processing to come back to the U.S. so we can oversee it and ensure it’s done properly.”
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