On September 8, the Wild Horse Annie Act (P.L. 86-234), having been approved by the US Congress unanimously, is signed into law. The Act prohibits the poisoning of wild horse and burro waterholes, as well as the use of motorized vehicles to round the horses up for sale to slaughterhouses.
On December 15, President Richard Nixon signed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act into law (P.L. 92-195). The Act is intended to protect, manage and control wild horses and burros.
Note: While the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act aims to protect these animals, it was undermined when Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) attached a controversial rider to the massive Omnibus Appropriations bill in 2004, eliminating the prohibition on killing wild horses. AWI is pushing to restore the Act (see 2005, 2006, 2007 for legislation aimed at re-establishing these wild horse protections).
On May 19, by a vote of 259 to 149, the US House of Representatives passes an amendment to the 2006 Interior appropriations bill that prohibits taxpayer funds from being used to commercially sell or slaughter federally protected wild horses and burros for one fiscal year. In addition, a bill (H.R. 297) was introduced by Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV) to permanently restore the protections removed from the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Both actions are taken to undo a rider to the 2004 Omnibus Appropriations bill by Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) that removed a prohibition on the commercial exploitation of wild horses and burros (see 2006 and 2007 for further actions).
On May 18, the US House of Representatives passes by unanimous consent an amendment to the 2007 Interior Appropriations bill that prohibits taxpayer funds from being used to sell or slaughter America’s wild horses. Legislation by Representative Rahall to permanently restore protections to the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act dies when Congress adjourns without acting.
On April 26, the US House of Representatives votes 277 to 137 in support of H.R. 249, legislation to permanently restore protections to the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (see 2005).
On July 17, the House voted 239 to 185 in favor of the Restore Our American Mustangs (ROAM) Act (H.R. 1018). The bill sought to improve protections for wild horses and restore provisions to the 1971 Act. The Senate did not vote on the bill.
On October 30, the Interior Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2010 was signed into law (P.L.111-88) containing a provision specifying that “appropriations herein made shall not be available for the destruction of healthy, unadopted, wild horses and burros in the care of the Bureau of Land Management or its contractors or for the sale of wild horses and burros that results in their destruction for processing into commercial products.”
This prohibition on the destruction of wild horses and burros for commercial purposes applies only to that fiscal year—hence, it must be included in each year’s appropriations bill to remain in effect. Following its inclusion in the fiscal year 2010 legislation, it has been included in all subsequent annual Interior appropriations packages.
The Bureau of Land Management, under the Department of the Interior, oversees the vast majority of herds in the United States. In 2019, Congress explicitly extended those protections against commercial destruction to the smaller number of wild horses and burros managed by the US Forest Service (under the Department of Agriculture) as part of the fiscal year 2020 spending package.
Find out more about wild horses and burros.