The surface transportation bill—the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684)—which is part of Congress’ infrastructure package is set to include a number of good animal protection measures. Two of the most important focus on the welfare of horses and wildlife whose fate are shaped by our transportation systems and practices. Amendment #187 would outlaw the transport of America’s equines to slaughter for human consumption, while amendment #41 would authorize a national wildlife corridors system to mitigate habitat fragmentation and wildlife-vehicle collisions. The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the transportation package this week, which makes this a crucial time to contact your Representative and encourage support for these elements of the infrastructure package.
Passage of the Carter-Fitzpatrick Amendment (#187) will effectively place a permanent ban on the slaughter of American equines both here and abroad. Cosponsored by Reps. Troy Carter (D-La.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Andy Barr (R-Ky.), Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Donald Payne (D-N.J.), Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), and Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the version moving forward is the one for which we advocated. We worked closely with sponsors and other humane organizations to strengthen the approach taken and we are extremely grateful for the bipartisan support this humane measure enjoys in Congress.
Our family of organizations has been fighting for years to end this horrifying practice and for good reason. Horses are gathered up for slaughter from random sources by greedy buyers who are only there to make a buck, which makes it harder to place horses in good homes, as families and rescuers are routinely outbid at auctions by these so-called “kill buyers” seeking healthy animals. The animals are then transported to slaughter plants in Canada or Mexico on long journeys without adequate water, food, or rest and often arriving severely injured or even dead. At the plant, the methods used to render horses unconscious before slaughter are imprecise, while accurate pre-slaughter stunning is difficult, making the process of slaughter that much more cruel and inhumane. While we have effectively prevented the return of slaughterhouses for horses in the United States, the trade has moved to Mexico and Canada. Passage of this critical amendment shuts the industry down for the foreseeable future.
We were also pleased to advocate for the successful inclusion of Rep. Cohen’s Horse Transportation Safety Act (H.R.921) in the overall package. This measure will make it unlawful to transport horses across state lines in motor vehicles with two or more levels stacked. Passage of these two horse-related measures would make 2021 a banner year in our work for equines.
The INVEST in America Act also promises benefits in the form of infrastructure proposals to enhance human-wildlife coexistence. Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) filed amendment #41, which will improve wildlife habitat connectivity through protected corridors, helping to mitigate wildlife-vehicle collisions that kill more than one million animals on America’s roads every day, put drivers at risk, and cost Americans more than $8 billion per year in damages.
Although the U.S. prides itself on a robust network of public lands and waters that includes national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests and other conservation areas, important wildlife populations continue to decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation from increased development. It is absolutely necessary that we work in a holistic way to link habitats that facilitate the movement of native plant and animal species through connective corridors in order to protect biodiversity, ecosystem function, and animals across the nation. A few weeks ago a New York Times’ piece documented the variety of wildlife taking advantage of these corridors and crossings illustrating that they work incredibly well.
We urge you to contact your Member of Congress now and encourage them to vote “YES” on the Carter-Fitzpatrick and Beyer-Gallego amendments when they reach the House Floor for a vote, you can find his or her contact information here. By reaching out to them now, you can make a world of difference for animals whose lives are in the balance.