A judge in New Mexico has decided to speed up a contentious horse slaughter case. U.S. District Court Judge Christina Armijo said she will determine by the end of the month if Valley Meat Company’s horse slaughter plant can stay open in Roswell, N.M.
The nation’s overpopulation of wild horses has sparked debate between animal rights activists, Native American tribes, politicians and ranchers.
The Fronteras Desk reported the Navajo Nation rounded up a bunch of wild horses to sell at auction. The tribe voiced their support for the New Mexico plant, which received a permit to operate from the Department of Agriculture last June. The tribe claims the horses are jeopardizing their land and livestock. Representatives of the tribe say the decision to auction the horses was not easy to make. Some members of the tribe say there should be consensus over how to handle the horses, which are considered sacred animals.
Last month, Armijo issued a restraining order against Valley Meat Company and another company in Iowa. These would be the first companies to run a horse slaughter business since Congress stopped funding horse inspectors in 2007.
Animal rights groups have filed a federal lawsuit in response to the approval of Valley and other companies. The Obama administration asked for an end to horse slaughter for human consumption in its budget proposal for the fiscal year. It is yet to be seen if a bill will be passed.
The Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe in Northern Nevada attempted to auction off 150 mustangs last month. An animal activist ended up buying the horses to keep them alive. Nevada has the largest population of wild horses in the country.