KBR Wild Horse and Burro News

  Will the Fox be Guarding the Henhouse?

Story date: July, 1998

Nevada Senator Takes Sword to BLM.

In an apparent unprecedented act of vindictiveness against the BLM, Nevada Senator Harry Reid is advancing a bill through the Senate cutting the BLM's budget by $ 7.4 million (30% of its budget). It is expected to pass and go on to the House.

House spokespersons had said they wanted to increase BLM's budget by 2-3 million. (The House just passed the Shackelford-Banks Wild Horses Protection Act on July 22nd.) But with this latest turn of events, a major fight may be forthcoming between the House and Senate. There are a great number of wealthy interests who would like to see the BLM "out of the way" so that they could more freely make use of our natural resources. The plight of America's wild horses is just one of many issues at stake here.

If this situation concerns you, then you can write your congressional representative. You might remind him or her that the BLM is responsible for stewardship over important natural resources throughout our country, that like so many other agencies, they are struggling with previous funding reductions and in many areas, the BLM is the last "policeman" left to protect much of our heritage.

IMHO, if you think things are bad now, just wait until Senator Reid and his friends get finished. It appears thet they have waited until the BLM's public image hit an all time low, then struck while they felt they had the best advantage.

Those of us who feel that continued "protected" management of such resources as the wild horses is important have a short time left to express our positions. The program does have friends in the House of Representatives. We need to show our members of Congress that the public in fact does support the Wild Horse and Burro program. (If we really don't support it, maybe it is a waste of taxpayer dollars and the big ranchers should be free to "clear the land" of these "pests".)


Having followed this issue for some time, here is my take on it.

Nevada is home to most of the nation's wild horses. Nevada is also home to a number of influential ranchers who profit though gaining inexpensive grazing rights for their cattle. If thousands of horses are roaming public lands in Nevada, Senator Reid's cattle industry friends cannot contract for those "grazing units" taken by the horses.

Check the archive reports posted on this site. For some time the Nevada State Legislature has grappled with to how to "eliminate" the wild horses grazing on Nevada lands. This is certainly not a new issue. Fortunately for the horses the BLM Wild Horse and Burro program is FEDERAL, not STATE operated, and until recent months the program had wide public support.

A number of outspoken critics of federal land use policy have argued that BLM operations should be funded more out of fees and royalties, less out of the "taxpayer's pocket" (general fund).

Recently a number of news stories have circulated alleging widespread abuse of adopted wild horses and incompetence, if not criminal misconduct, on the part of a number of BLM officials. The BLM itself admits that a few freezemarked horses do make it to "killer sales"; there simply isn't enough staff to monitor every horse, however I've yet to see any hard evidence of the massive abuses which have been so widely touted. Could this have been a sophisticated ploy to reduce the BLM's credibility in the eyes of Congress so that our legislators would be comfortable with going after their budget with a meat ax?

Consider that almost immediately following this public relations nightmare, Senator Reid advanced his budget cutback proposal. What would this accomplish? Since Senator Reed is a staunch OPPONENT of raising fees and royalties to fund BLM operations, in all likelihood the BLM will have to turn management of much of Nevada's range lands over to Nevada, the state which would just as soon be rid of these equine pests. Don't count on the State of Nevada organizing an adoption program.

Where does Senator Reed really stand? Check his voting record. Senator Reid has in the past shown a narrow view of the WHB program and strong support of the cattle industry. Senator Reid appears to forget the the wild horses and burros belong to ALL the people of the US and not just Nevada. Notice all the "No" votes for measures which would increase grazing fees for his cattleman friends. Notice all the "Yes" votes for measures to table or kill amendments designed to bring grazing fees up to current "market values". It is well documented that many cattle industry operators have not been good stewards of the public lands. This affair appears to me to be a carefully crafted and well executed plan. A show of public support is the horses' only real defense to this onslaught.

These are just my observations. Check the facts for yourself and draw your own conclusions.


Department of Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 1998

Grazing; Recommended Range Improvements

Nevada Legislation Would Push Wild Horse Removal
(The original AP report)

Senator Reid's Home Page
(Presented in the interest of fairness)


Here's how to contact Your Government Representatives.

Here are some sample letters which you can use as a guide if you wish.

Thanks for your interest!

(Thanks also to Barbara Eustis-Cross for bringing this issue to our attention and "discovering" many of the facts presented here.)

This is not a BLM operated or BLM sponsored site. It is run by private wild horse and burro enthusiasts and owners.

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