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4.26.06-Montana LTE Response

Haven’t said much on the horse slaughter debate lately. So let me opine. I still monitor the news about it.

One thing I have consistently noticed is that many people, in the public and press, living in Montana, Utah and other Western states support the 3 foreign-owned horse slaughter plants. This, of course, is directly related to ranching interests in the cattle and sheep industries.

I stumbled on this letter to the editor of The Billings Outpost, dated April 13, I actually read it awhile ago but waited to respond for no particular reason.

Here is the meat (no pun intended) of this guy’s argument:

“We have forced horse slaughter plants to be closed in this country. Why? Because animal rights people don’t like it. There is a great market for horsemeat. We eat cows, goats, sheep, hogs, deer, antelope, elk, buffalo. What difference does it make? Lewis and Clark were glad to eat horsemeat, and the only thing better was dog meat.

No, I wouldn’t be complaining, but we taxpayers are paying for the support in feeding these U.S. Bureau of Land Management horses that nobody wants. We have to control the amount of horses because of overpopulation, just like the buffalo in the park. It’s called overgrazing. You folks who have pet horses know what the cost is to feed 4,000 to 8,000 horses.”

There are a few comments on the thread with the letter that make some good points, ones I was planning to make anyway but there are some that the commenters left out.

One commenter pointed out that it isn’t the horses (wild mustangs) that are over grazing it’s the cattle and sheep and other livestock. Another person noted that most of the anti-horse slaughter crowd comes from inside the horse industry, owners, buyers, organizations, etc., not from the animal rights organizations, though they are decidedly anti-slaughter as well.

A bit of a tangent here. The gist of his argument almost mirrors an argument I wrote up in a staff editorial for the Northern Star, one I had heard expounded by others before. In the past the Northern Star had taken a pro-slaughter position based on its legality, “if it’s legal we should allow it.” But I couldn’t see that as justification, the editorial board was staunchly in favor of the DeKalb Cavel, Int’l Plant and I couldn’t see arguing based on the fact that “it’s legal.” There are such things as bad laws. While this editorial wasn’t my personal opinion I was told by a letter writer that “I should never be allowed to speak again so long as I walk this Earth.” Heh.

Back to the Montana letter.

“We eat cows, goats, sheep, hogs, deer, antelope, elk, buffalo,” states the letter writer.

Yeah, no kidding. But guess what we do not eat: dogs, cats, gerbils, goldfish, hedgehogs, snakes, chinchillas, and a host of other companion animals. Those of you who know me know that I am not a pet person, but how the fact that we eat animals raised specifically to be eaten justifies slaughtering horses (a companion animal) I will never know.

Horses are part of our culture and no amount of potential future profits for cattle ranchers is going to change that.

The last point the letter writer, James O. Southworth of Laurel, Montana, makes attempts to back up his argument (which he did absolutely no research for–trust me) by pulling the “taxpayers have to pay to feed unwanted BLM wild mustangs-card.” What a Republican load of crap.

Fiscal reasons? This guy can’t be serious. Killing these horses is going to save the gigantic U.S. government some money? What on Earth?

First of all, considering the huge amounts of government waste in spending (Iraq being the most notable) how would the slaughter of a few thousand horses ever lower anyone’s taxes in this country? That’s just ignorant, and obviously not very well thought through.

Lastly, most Americans oppose horse slaughter. Oppose, read that James? (Banking on a googling of his own name here).


Horse slaughter legislation update:

Virgie S. Arden American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act:

HR 503-Introduced Feb 1, 2005. Referred to Energy and Commerce committee Feb. 1, 2005. Referred to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. Currently in same subcommittee.

S 1915-Introduced Oct. 25, 2005. Referred to Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee on the same day. Currently in same committee.

To restore the prohibition on the commercial sale and slaughter of wild free-roaming horses and burros:

HR 297-Introduced Jan. 25, 2005. Referred to Resources Committee the same day. Referred to Referred to the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health Feb. 7, 2005. Currently still in same subcommittee.

S 576-Introduced March 9, 2005. Referred to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources the same day. Currently still in same committee 



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