Victory! The House of Representatives passed a funding bill that has many wins for animals all over the country! The bill was passed to fund the US Department of the Interior, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other federal agencies in the fiscal year 2023. The bill includes important directions for agencies to implement animal welfare laws. The bill includes provisions from improving the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit imports from trophy hunting and even provides grants for domestic violence victims to get companion animals.

The bill will include:

Animal Welfare Act: Funds will be given to enforce the Animal Welfare Act and expresses frustration with the USDA’s weak enforcement of the law. The House expressed concern about the lack of enforcement for online dog dealers. They also direct the USDA to ensure regular, consistent, and unannounced inspection of AWA-licensed facilities.

Marine Mammals: The House is directing the USDA to prioritize and reissue regulations regarding the handling and care of marine mammals in captivity. Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) reports that it has been almost four decades since the last update, and science has made significant progress in that time. There should be an increase in minimum space requirements and the establishment of specific ambient temperature ranges.

Wildlife Services: The House will provide $4.55 million to Wildlife Services to “expand, develop, and implement nonlethal methods with a focus on reducing human-wildlife conflicts related to predators and beavers in the Western Region and Great Lakes.”

Endangered Species Act: The House will increase funding for the Endangered Species Act to $355 million, which is a $77 million increase from last year. The Endangered Species Act has notoriously been underfunded, and it needs to begin to address a backlog of over 300 species waiting for decisions and protection.

Horses: In a huge win for horses, the bill blocks the operation of horse slaughter facilities in the United States by permanently banning the use of federal funds to inspect those facilities. The bill will give $4.1 million to enforce the Horse Protection Act. $11 million will go to the administration of humane, reversible fertility control vaccines for wild horses. The bill will also protect wild horses and burros against slaughter and lethal control.

Trophy Hunting: The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will be prohibited from issuing permits for the import of sport-hunted elephant or lion trophies taken in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, or Zambia. It will also review policies that reduced transparency in the import process during the Trump administration.

Trapping: The USFWS will also be required to brief Congress on body-gripping traps that are used on national wildlife refuges and outline nonlethal methods that could replace this trapping.

Birds: Numerous agencies have been directed to monitor their buildings for bird collisions and implement low-cost actions to minimize these occurrences that, according to AWI, are responsible for as many as 1 billion bird deaths each year in the US.

Mink: The USDA will be required to report to Congress on the new Mink SARS–CoV–2 Transmission Avoidance and Monitoring Plan (Mink STAMP), which was designed to monitor for COVID infection on mink farms and minimize the risk of transmission. The USDA will need to be transparent to ensure an understanding of public health risks.

Farm Animals: The bill ensures that the USDA will remain transparent about the number of humane handling verification procedures performed as well as the number of administrative actions taken in livestock slaughter plants. The House also urges the USDA to work with producers to develop disaster plans to protect livestock from extreme weather conditions. They were also instructed to support alternative protein research and improve oversight of animal-raising claims on meat and poultry labels to ensure transparency.

Companion Animals: The bill will provide $3 million for grants to help domestic violence survivors acquire companion animals under the Protecting Animals With Shelter (PAWS) program.

We applaud the House for all of these fundings that will help so many animals across the country!

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