Animal welfare groups are speaking out again against horse slaughter — this time on the grounds of potential environmental risks.
Though President Obama lifted the ban on horse slaughter in 2011, until recently, no company had received the necessary permission to begin legally slaughtering horses.
Now that the federal officials issued permits to two companies in New Mexico and Iowa who are set to begin the first legal horse slaughters in the U.S. since 2006, animal welfare groups have been struggling to find an angle that would convince a judge to reverse its decision to resume horse slaughtering practices.
Activists have thus decided that an environmentally responsible angle is the most appropriate attack.
Bruce Wagman, a lawyer for the Colorado-based Front Range Equine Rescue, reported to a judge in Alberquerque that no group had ever assessed the impact that slaughtering horses could have on the environment. Wagman pointed out that horses are given more than 100 drugs which are not approved for other feed animals, and could contaminate surrounding soil and water quality if slaughtering practices were again made legal.
This new argument has sparked further controversy in an already emotional national debate. In response to the question of horse slaughtering’s environmental impact, Pat Rodgers, an attorney for Responsible Transportation, conversely insists that horse slaughter actually helps the environment by reducing a large population of wild horses that destroy American Indian lands and cause public safety problems.
For now, the animal welfare activists have accomplished a small victory by causing a federal judge to temporarily halt the Iowa and New Mexico companies’ plans to begin slaughtering. Many are unsure, however, how long the animal rights activists will be able to stall the big corporations who are eager to begin exporting horsemeat for revenue.