Big changes may be coming to the United States, which could see thousands of wild and domestic horses sent for slaughter.

President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget for the Bureau of Land Management would drastically cut funding to the organization charged with protecting, managing and controlling wild horses and burros on federal public land, administered through the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971.

The proposal includes an 11 per cent cut to the BLM’s overall $1.1 billion annual budget. In addition, it seeks to cut $10 million and 29 jobs from the Wild Horse and Burro management program and reduce funding for contraceptive programs, a method used to reduce herd numbers.

There is also a request to overturn a ruling that prevents the BLM from selling captured wild horses for slaughter. There are currently more than 45,000 wild horses in holding facilities across the United States. These horses are available for adoption and for sale.

If the budget cuts are passed, it will be legal to sell these horses to “kill-buyers,” who will be able to ship them to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. However, if a recent vote by the House Appropriations Committee holds up, horse slaughter plants may soon be reinstated in the U.S., which could see these wild and domestic horses slaughtered for human consumption.

Horse slaughter has been banned for more than a decade in the U.S. by prohibiting the United States Department of Agriculture from conducting inspections at processing plants.

The Department of Agriculture funding bill still needs pass the House, at which point the ban on horse slaughter inspections could be reinserted.

Sinikka Crosland, executive director of the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition responded to the news by saying:

“The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition is disappointed and deeply saddened by news from the United States, that the House Appropriations Committee has voted down an amendment that has effectively protected horses from being slaughtered in that country. The matter must still proceed to the full House and the Senate, however, and it is noteworthy that the vote passed by a very narrow margin, actually indicating a great deal of support for horses within the U.S. government.

“A proposed reduction of the BLM budget, if passed, would result in wild horses entering the slaughter pipeline. This is an additional reason for horse advocates to be hopeful that the ban will be reinstated as the appropriations process moves along.”

Crosland added: “Undercover video captured on numerous occasions in North American slaughterhouses has proven, without question, that there is no humane method of slaughtering a horse during the assembly-line process that characterizes this industry. Horses are intelligent, easily-panicked animals whose first instinct is to flee from pain. Covert video has revealed up to eleven stunning attempts while slaughterhouse workers have unsuccessfully attempted to achieve rapid insensibility in these animals. The slaughter of horses has never been, and will never be, humane euthanasia.”

We will continue to follow the story as it develops and provide updates.