RENO, Nev. (AP) - Wild horses rounded up on federal land in the West and sold to a private owner have been slaughtered for the first time since a new law went into effect, a government official told The Associated Press on Thursday.
"This is something we regret and are very disappointed this has happened," said Celia Boddington, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Washington D.C.
"We make every possible effort when the horses are sold to make sure the animals are placed in good homes for long-term care," she said Thursday.
The BLM is investigating the details of the sale this month of six wild horses to an Oklahoma man and their subsequent slaughter at a commercial packing plant in Illinois, Boddington said.
In December, Congress repealed the 34-year-old ban on the slaughter of the wild horses that run free across the West. The move has brought a backlash from activists, who want to reinstate full protection for the mustangs.
Officials for the Humane Society of the United States learned of the slaughter Thursday and contacted BLM.
"There is no way this current system will work to protect horses," said Nancy Perry, the Humane Society's vice president for government affairs.
"Until new legislation passes, our wild horses are going to be in jeopardy," she said from Washington D.C.