A decision made on December 13th, by a US federal appeals court, could see horse slaughter resume in the US within weeks.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado has lifted a temporary injunction, which was issued November 4th, preventing the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) from conducting inspections at horse slaughter facilities.

The injunction was granted at the request of animal protection groups who contended at the USDA should not have granted permits to would-be horse slaughter plants in New Mexico, Iowa and Missouri because the agency had failed to conduct the appropriate environmental reviews beforehand.

On Friday, the decision was overturned because the court said the animal protection groups had failed to meet the burden of proof in order to continue the injunction.

A final ruling in the case, in which, among others, the Humane Society of the United States, is seeking to permanently ban horse slaughter in the US, will be issued in the coming months.