Legislation Would Push Wild Horse Removal
CARSON CITY (AP) - A state panel is encouraging removal and disposal of wild horses rather than protection and management of herds that roam Nevada's range land.
The changes proposed by the Legislative Committee on Public Lands as a new direction for the Nevada Commission for the Preservation of Wild Horses will be considered by the entire Legislature during the 1997 session.
The commission's executive director, Cathy Barcomb, said she was worried that the committee might push to eliminate her commission - but the panel rejected that idea.
Still, she said she was "extremely concerned" about the other proposals to focus on removal and disposal of the horses - an idea supported by many ranchers in the state whose livestock compete for forage.
"You've got a bunch of old horses out there, and the work to protect them is just a great big hole in the ground where they're dumping money," said Ray Williams Jr. of Austin.
But Barcomb said she was particularly worried about a new provision that would provide financial assistance to the federal government "to support removal and disposal of excess numbers of wild horses..."
Nevada is home to thousands of wild horses, running on both public and private lands. The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for managing herds on public land, while the state and local agencies manage the stray horses that run on private property.
The state commission - funded through interest from a trust fund - helps coordinate herd management, but the federal government is responsible for most of the wild horses.
While some horses are gathered and adopted, others are rounded up and taken to slaughterhouses where they are packaged and sent to Europe for human consumption.
Mike Baughman, who represents Eureka County, said several thousand horses in the area are driving themselves to extinction through overpopulation. "If we don't manage horses well, we will not successfully preserve them," he said.
During committee testimony, Washoe County spokeswoman Mary Henderson said three horses were found dead near the community of Hidden Valley - including one that had been shot several times in its belly. Cause of death for the other two hasn't been determined.
"It was an extremely frightening experience, and it illustrates the situation we find ourselves in," she said.
State Sen. Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora, who chairs the public lands panel, voted for the changes - with the caveat that details will be hammered out during the 1997 session.
"This is not final," said Rhoads. "We've got more work to do on this."
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