America’s horses have lost a true champion with the passing today of West Virginia’s Senator Robert Byrd who fought in the nation’s capital to protect wild horses and burros from their destructive removal from public lands, and all equines from death by slaughter.
The New York Times reports:
Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, a fiery orator versed in the classics and a hard-charging power broker who steered billions of federal dollars to the state of his Depression-era upbringing, died Monday. He was 92.
A spokesman for the family, Jesse Jacobs, said Byrd died peacefully at about 3 a.m. at Inova Hospital in Fairfax, Va. He had been in the hospital since late last week.
Sen. Byrd has a long record of fighting for the rights of animals. Here are a few recent examples of his involvement in the protection of horses.
In 2005, Sen. Byrd co-authored the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which prohibits the transport, purchase, and sale of horses for human consumption.
In the same year, Sen. Byrd introduced a bill that would prohibit the commercial sale and slaughter of wild horses and burros. He summed up the feelings of many when, in his speech to overturn the Burns amendment, he criticized the BLM’s management of wild horses.
“Surely there are actions that can be taken by the BLM to ensure the proper operation of the wild horse and burro program without resorting to the slaughter of these animals,” stated Byrd.
Sen. Byrd also quoted British Poet Ronald Duncan’s Ode To The Horse in the same address:
“Where in this wide world can a man find nobility without pride, friendship without envy or beauty without vanity? Here: where grace is laced with muscle and strength by gentleness confined. He serves without servility; he has fought without enmity. There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent; there is nothing so quick, nothing less patient. England’s past has been bourne on his back. All our history is his industry. We are his heirs; he our inheritance. The Horse.”
It was Sen. Byrd’s participation in the successful Ensign-Byrd amendment prohibiting the USDA from using tax money to inspect horse meat that forced the closures of the only three horse slaughterhouses remaining in the US to shut down in 2007.
In 2008, Sen. Byrd was named PETA’s Person of the Year for 2007.
“Sen. Byrd is never shy about making his strong belief in the importance of animal protection heard,” said PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. “Much animal suffering has been alleviated thanks to Sen. Byrd, and this year we are proud to honour him for giving a voice to the voiceless.”
Last year, Sen. Byrd introduced the ROAM Act (S. 1579) in the Senate to help address the management of wild horse and burro populations by preserving an ecological balance between the herds and the dwindling acreage available to them to roam freely and find adequate vegetation and water sources.