An "unlikely coalition" is gathering in Las Vegas this week for the Summit of the Horse, a conference seeking to revive the horse slaughtering industry. Congress cut funds for slaughterhouse inspectors in 2007, effectively shutting down the business, which killed as many as 100,000 animals a year and sent most of the meat to Europe and Asia. Now, some ranchers and even some animal-welfare groups want to bring back equine slaughterhouses as a means of dealing with unwanted domestic animals, controlling wild populations in the West, creating jobs, and stimulating local economies. Is it really time to reestablish the horse meat industry?
Yes, this is the best way to deal with overpopulation: The horse population needs to be kept under control, and slaughter is a viable, and potentially profitable, solution, says Sue Wallis, Vice President of United Horseman, a Wyoming nonprofit seeking seeking legalized slaughter for human consumption, as quoted by KTNV. "If you get too many deer, elk they take measures to limit these animals," and "horses are no different."
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And it could be done in a humane way: Reopening a few slaughterhouses with a strict regulations could be part of the effort to ease the animals' suffering, says Whitney Wright, the director of rescue group Hope for Horses, as quoted in The Wall Street Journal. Wright worked to shut down slaughterhouses, but now says a few humane facilities are needed. "Every day, I'm turning horses away. I feel like I'm playing God, because I have to pick and choose."
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We should protect wild horses, not slaughter them: "These horses are part of our heritage," says Robert Abbey, chief of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, as quoted by the Associated Press. "They deserve to be treated the best way that we can treat them." The current way of handling the wild population — using helicopter roundups to move and contain the animals, as well as sterilizing some — is the "safest and most efficient way" to manage the horses.
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The helicopter roundups are cruel, too: Rounding up horses by helicopter and running them for miles and miles is "brutal," says Simone Netherlands, the found of the equine advocacy group Respect 4, as quoted by CNN. "It's barbaric and it does not need to be done this way." The government is supposed to protect the herds, but with these roundups, "they are managing them to extinction."
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