On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed the $1 trillion infrastructure package, which includes funding for a vast array of public works. Included in this massive bill are some hugely important steps for animals, as well as some opportunities for us to push to strengthen the language of the final bill to make a world of difference for animals.
- Preventing deaths of animals along U.S. roads
- Vehicle collisions kill more than one million large animals each year on U.S. roads—that’s roughly one large animal every 26 seconds, and that’s not counting smaller mammals and scavengers like birds who are struck. Reported collisions between motorists and wildlife are the cause of over 200 human fatalities and more than 26,000 injuries each year, at an annual cost of more than $8 billion in damages. Research studies show that wildlife crossing structures and fencing designed to facilitate the passage of animals over or under our highways are highly effective, reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions by as much as 97%.
- The infrastructure bill includes $350 million in funding for a new pilot grant program for wildlife road crossing projects and strategies that aim to reduce the deaths of animals on America’s roadways and restore and maintain connectivity between habitats.
- The package will also give an immediate boost to state and tribal initiatives to mitigate wildlife-vehicle collisions. In recent years, nine states have enacted habitat connectivity legislation and an additional six have introduced legislation and/or issued executive orders to protect wildlife corridors. Many Tribal Nations have also been working to protect wildlife movement on their lands. But funding to implement these efforts has been inadequate, and this federal commitment promises to make quite a difference.
- Stopping the slaughter of American horses
- In the U.S. House, HSUS and HSLF worked closely with primary sponsor Rep. Troy Carter, D-La., and the many cosponsors from both sides of the aisle to strengthen his proposal and ensure its passage. Carter’s measure, which was ultimately included in the House’s surface transportation bill (the INVEST in America Act), would prohibit the transport of America’s equines to slaughter for human consumption, effectively placing a permanent ban on their slaughter both here and abroad. For the first time in 15 years, the U.S. House passed a measure to end horse slaughter.
- Unfortunately, the Senate infrastructure package did not incorporate this horse slaughter language. However, there’s still an opportunity to bring this language into the final bill. The House is anticipated to take up the Senate’s version of the infrastructure package this fall and is expected to negotiate on the inclusion of the INVEST in America Act, which again included language both to end the transport of horses to slaughter and to establish a national wildlife corridors system.
You can read more about this bill in a joint blog authored by Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, and Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund here.