Position in Opposition to H.R.8541

 Position in Opposition to H.R.8541 – the Wild Horse Integrity and Slaughter Prevention Act, introduced by Rep. Luna (R-FL) – in its current form.

American Wild Horse Conservation (AWHC) and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) oppose H.R.8541 in its current form for the following reasons: 


  • Reduced Waiting Period: Shortens the period an adopter must wait before gaining title to a wild horse or burro from one year to six months, increasing the risk of abuse and/or likelihood that the adopter will resell or “flip” the animal for profit.


  • Current Safeguard: The 12-month wait was meant to deter slaughter by requiring adequate care, and checks on well-being, for a year before title is awarded.


  • Increased Risk: Six-month wait reduces investment needed before gaining title, making it more lucrative to send horses to slaughter auctions after ownership is transferred.


  • More Horses and Burros Will Be Funneled Into the Slaughter Pipeline: Shortened period would allow an adopter to obtain eight horses and burros in a 12 month period, instead of the current limit of four. This concern is exacerbated by individuals and groups who routinely adopt four animals at a time, per person, with the intention of defrauding taxpayers and sending them to slaughter auctions.


  • Counter to Animal Welfare Goals: Many reputable equine rescue organizations retain title to horses and burros they place to ensure their welfare. Dramatically shortening the period to titling will harm animal welfare. 


Investigation Findings:


  • Repeat Offenders: Some adopters (including groups of related individuals) repeatedly adopt and dispose of horses. Indeed, the New York Times covered this problem in a front-page exposé.


Potential for More Abuse:


  • Current Policy: Limits number of horses an individual can adopt to four a year, based on a prohibition on possessing more than four untitled animals at any given time.


  • Doubling Risk of Abuse: The bill would increase the per-adopter limit of four horses/burros per year to eight, increasing opportunities for abuse.


  • Financial Incentive: More adoptions mean more cash payments, increasing the profit margin for adopters with nefarious intent.


  • Overburdened BLM Inspections Program: The BLM is already challenged in conducting compliance inspections; doubling the number of compliance inspections in a given year will only exacerbate this problem.


Enforcement Issues:


  • Lack of Enforcement: BLM's enforcement is insufficient. The bill's penalties for slaughter are ineffective and are highly unlikely to serve as a meaningful deterrent. 


  • The  BLM has a poor track record of prosecuting individuals who funnel wild horses and burros into the slaughter pipeline.The bill does not change BLM's stance that, despite contractual obligations, once title is transferred, the animals become the owner's property to dispose of as they please. Continued lack of agency enforcement, even with increased penalties, is unlikely to provide any meaningful deterrence. 


  • Burns Amendment: This amendment, allowing the sale of older or unadopted horses for slaughter, remains in effect and currently must be blocked annually via appropriations legislation.




  • Increased Risk: The bill doubles the risk of slaughter and fails to address fundamental issues like cash incentives and the Burns Amendment.


  • Opposite Effect: While intended to reduce slaughter, the bill will likely incentivize the sale of wild equines into slaughter.
  • Constructive Solutions: 
    • Eliminate cash incentives for adoption and transition to non-cash veterinary vouchers.( BLM already has a process for this through its gelding voucher program.) 
    • Maintain 12-year titling period and 4 animal/year adoption limit.
    • Limit the number of horses or burros that can be titled to one address.
    • Repeal the Burns Amendment for long-term protection from slaughter.