The U.S. Forest Service late Thursday canceled a roundup of wild horses scheduled for Friday in northern Nevada after horse advocates learned about it and made it public, accusing the government of trying a “stealth” effort to break the law and send the horses to a slaughter auction.
The advocates said the Forest Service failed to give proper public notice of the roundup and was using an agreement with an Indian tribe to “launder” the horses so they could avoid public scrutiny and send the horses to slaughter.
“The U.S. Forest Service has decided to postpone the removal of horses on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Nevada tomorrow in order to allow for better coordination of the process,” the agency said in a statement from its office in Carson City, Nev.
It’s the latest hiccup as the federal government battles with horse enthusiasts, who also are fighting to stop the government from resuming inspections of horse meat slaughterhouses. Without the inspections, the meatpacking plants cannot process the meat for human consumption.
Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack, whose department oversees the Forest Service and the Food Safety Inspection Service, said earlier this year that there should be a better way to treat horses than to have them slaughtered — though he didn’t offer any specific changes.
Activists cheered the Forest Service’s decision to put off the roundup.
“This is great news,” said Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, which joined other groups in threatening to sue. “We knew from the start this was a dirty deal that obviously couldn’t survive the light of day. We’re glad it was postponed and now we’d like to hold Secretary Vilsack to his word about needing a better way to manage horses other than to send them to slaughter.”
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