IMAGE: WILD HORSES
Laura Rauch  /  AP file
Some 37,000 burros and wild horses, like these near Eureka, Nev., populate federal lands in the West — 9,000 more than can be sustained, according to the Bureau of Land Management.
updated 5/20/2005 1:02:29 PM ET 2005-05-20T17:02:29

House lawmakers voted Thursday to block a six-month-old law that allows the government to sell wild horses and burros, with opponents of the law protesting that the animals were ending up in processing plants and on the tables of foreign restaurants.

The 249-159 House vote would stop the Bureau of Land Management from using any money in a $26 billion bill funding next year’s natural resources and arts programs to sell horses that roam public lands in Western states.

The measure overturns a provision in a spending bill passed last December that ended a 33-year-old policy of protecting wild horses from sale or processing. The horses, said Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., shouldn’t be sold so they “can end up on the menus of France, Belgium and Japan.”

Other programs in the bill, which funds the Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency, absorbed a 3 percent spending cut from $27 billion this year. Lawmakers shrank grants for local water projects while boosting money for National Park Service operations. It passed 329-89.

41 horses killed
The House action on horses came as the Bureau of Land Management announced Thursday that it was resuming the sale of wild horses and burros but with tougher restrictions against sales for slaughter. The agency last month temporarily halted sales after 41 horses were killed.

The agency’s revised contract requires that buyers agree they will not knowingly purchase horses intending to resell, trade or give the animals to a slaughterhouse.

Since lawmakers enacted the horse sales law in December, BLM sold and delivered 1,000 horses. Another 1,000 have been sold but remain undelivered, and those agreements will be reviewed.

“Our agency is committed to the well-being of wild horses and burros, both on and off the range,” said BLM Director Kathleen Clarke.

The law let the agency sell wild horses and burros that are more than 10 years old, or younger if they’ve been passed over for adoption three times.

BLM says 37,000 wild horses and burros forage its lands, 9,000 more than Western ranges can sustain. The agency has removed about 10,000 each year to manage the population.

Between 6,000 and 7,000 get adopted every year, and the agency currently cares for about 22,500 in holding facilities in the West and Midwest.

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Tongass forest, offshore gas
A procedural tactic by Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif, was used to reject a proposed amendment by Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, to bar the use of taxpayer money to build new timber roads in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the nation’s largest forest.

The Sierra Club called the move an "abuse of parliamentary tactics" that threatened the unique forest while wasting "tax dollars on subsidizing logging roads that benefit only a very small segment of the job base in southeast Alaska."

A similar tactic was employed to block an amendment that would have set conditions for ending the moratorium on oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Environmentalists supported that action, however.

Another proposal to end the moratorium on natural gas development in the Outer Continental Shelf was defeated 262-157.

A decision to cut programs that grant money to states, which then lend the funds to local governments for water treatment and sewage programs, came under criticism from many Democrats. The grants sustained a $241 million, or 22 percent, reduction.

In a statement, the White House urged Congress to support more of the president’s priorities and cut some of the $280 million set aside for projects in lawmakers’ districts. The president wanted to see more money devoted to land acquisition, water supply security, greenhouse gas reduction and local cultural and historic preservation.

The National Park Service would get more money for its day-to-day operations and for attacking a backlog of maintenance projects. Overall, lawmakers cut the park service budget by $137 million with the elimination of a $90 million grant program for state parks and a pause in government land acquisitions.

The bill, which hasn’t yet been considered in the Senate, would also:

  • Fund national firefighting plans at $2.7 billion, including increases for wildfire suppression and preparedness.
  • Provide $131 million to the National Endowment for the Arts and $143 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
  • Increase spending on Indian health and education programs.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Animal Tracks: Aug. 4  - Aug. 11

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  1. Chimp off the old block

    Shiba, a chimpanzee at Sydney's Taronga Zoo, holds her newborn baby on Aug. 10. (Lisa Ridley / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Cow caress

    Emma Leis lays on a cow at the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis, Wisconsin, on Aug. 9. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. When pigs flee

    Pigs race at the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis, Wisconsin, on Aug. 9. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Dog takes catnap

    A 29-day-old Labrador puppy sleeps against a tree at a courtyard in Beijing on Aug. 10. (Jason Lee / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Busy bee

    A bee gathers nectar along Skyline Drive in Shenadoah National Park in Virginia on Aug. 9. (Karen Bleier / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Bright butterfly

    An eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly flies in Shenadoah National Park in Virginia on Aug. 9. (Karen Bleier / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Seeing double

    A gorilla is reflected in a window at the Hellabrunn Zoo in Munich, Germany, on Aug. 8. (Sven Hoppe / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Blooming plumage

    A peacock displays his plumage at the Hellabrunn Zoo in Munich, Germany, on Aug. 8. (Sven Hoppe / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Rock on

    A 9-month-old baby samang, a tailless, black-furred gibbon native to forests in Malaysia and Indonesia's Sumatra province, holds onto a rock during a Hindu ritual ceremony in Bali, Indonesia, on Aug. 9. (Firdia Lisnawati / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Sitting pretty

    Parrots look around at the ZOOM zoo in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Aug. 8. (Patrik Stollarz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Meerly looking

    A meerkat stands and watches visitors at the ZOOM zoo in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Aug. 8. (Patrik Stollarz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. At the end of their rope

    Pig-tailed macaques climb on a rope at the ZOOM zoo in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Aug. 8. (Patrik Stollarz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. The eyes have it

    A snow owl at the ZOOM Zoo in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Aug. 8. (Patrik Stollarz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. On the prowl with a growl

    A tiger walks around at the ZOOM zoo in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Aug. 8. (Patrik Stollarz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Big bad wolf

    Chingiz, a male Siberian forest wolf, walks around inside an open-air cage at the Royev Ruchey Zoo in Russia on Aug. 8. (Ilya Naymushin / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Washing up

    Masha, a female raccoon, holds a piece of cloth in a pan with water, placed by zoo employees, at the Royev Ruchey Zoo in Russia on Aug. 8. (Ilya Naymushin / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Teeny turtle

    A zoo worker holds a newborn river terrapin on display at Dusit Zoo in Bangkok on Aug. 8. The River Terrapin is one of the most critically endangered turtle species. (Pornchai Kittiwongsakul / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Lengthy lick

    A giraffe licks its face at the Philadelphia Zoo on Aug. 7. (Michael Zorn / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. National bird

    An American bald eagle surveys its surroundings at the Philadelphia Zoo on Aug. 7. (Michael Zorn / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Silly seal

    A young seal emerges from the water in Friedrichskoog, Germany, on Aug. 7. (Daniel Bockwoldt / DPA via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Leaving the hospital

    Crowds of beach goers watch Mitchell, a 65-pound juvenile loggerhead sea turtle, crawl back to the ocean during the release of rehabilitated sea turtles on Aug. 6 in Isle of Palms, South Carolina. The turtle which accidentally swallowed a fishing hook and had it surgically removed by the sea turtle hospital at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston. (Richard Ellis / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Pampered pachyderms

    An elephant keeper sprinkles coconut oil on orphaned elephants at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage within Nairobi National Park in Kenya on Aug. 6. (Thomas Mukoya / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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