The shuttering of the last U.S. slaughterhouse in Illinois in 2007 and the tanking economy have created a glut of horses across the nation. Horse rescues have been filled to capacity. BLM wild horse auctions have drawn almost no bidders. These days you can hardly give a horse away, let alone sell one.
Now comes the aptly named Montana State Sen. Ed Butcher, author of a bill that would pave the way for the construction of a horse slaughterhouse in his state. Butcher told the Billings Gazette the bill addresses an escalating problem of horse abandonment and cruelty. "Horses are being kicked out on the roads, left on the land," he told the paper.
A horse owner in the central Montana farm community of Winifred, Butcher says domestic slaughter makes more sense than sending horses to Canada and Mexico, where slaughterhouses cater to horse flesh lovers around the globe and where cruel treatment has drawn fire from the Humane Society of the United States and others. A bill pending in the U.S. Congress would prohibit the transport of horses for slaughter across U.S. borders.
Butcher's bill, HB418, is scheduled for a hearing Feb. 12 before the Montana House Agriculture Committee.
Anticipating controversy, Butcher included in the bill a clause which bans a halt or delay in slaughterhouse construction by prohibiting court injunctions against it.
Butcher called horse slaughter "an incredible industry for Montana," saying it would generate jobs slaughtering, butchering, packaging and shipping horsemeat for human and canine consumption.
People who want slaughter should have the option, Butcher said. "Not every horse is Trigger. There's a lot of these horses whose working days are done."