A federal judge last Friday placed a temporary restraining order on the planned openings of two New Mexico horse slaughter plants scheduled to begin operations this week. Chief U.S. District Judge M. Christine Armijo ruled on the basis of claims by horse slaughter opponents that the plants pose a threat to the environment. The ban will remain in effect for at least thirty days.
The plants are allowed to seek a bond from their opponents to compensate them for lost business should they ultimately prevail through the courts. The New Mexico plants had expected to be the first to open since Congress effectively banned horse slaughter in the U.S. six years ago.
The judge based her decision on a directive published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), but lawyers for the USDA claim that the directive was just an operating guideline for USDA use and had no bearing on the law that permits horse slaughter.
The HSUS and other groups were parties to the lawsuit blocking the plant openings.
Lawyers for the USDA, the slaughter plants, and tribal groups in the area claim that the judge relied on sweeping statements of damage to the environment with no evidence to back up the claims. John Boyd, representing the Yakama tribe in Washington State said the only proven damage to the environment has been caused by the runaway population of thousands of unwanted horses destroying the vegetation and driving out other species.
Another hearing will take place in thirty days. For more details, read Milan Simonich’s article in the Alamagordo Daily News.
Posted August 4, 2013