Advocates to stump for wild horses at Capitol

Wild-horse advocates will demonstrate in front of the Capitol in downtown Carson City at 11 a.m. today to protest the reduction of wild-horse herds and wild-horse management areas across Nevada.

The Bureau of Land Management is leaving too few horses to maintain genetically viable herds and the number of horse management areas is being reduced, said Bonnie Matton, wild-horse advocate.

"We're also requesting that at least two representatives from advocacy groups witness roundups and releases," she said.

"We want to verify numbers and make sure the horses released are viable breeding age," said Kelly Knapp, wild horse advocate. "That's a big concern."

A Dayton resident who hikes in the Pine Nut Range, Knapp said many small springs feed the area, but she's seen just 14 wild horses. She would like to see animals transferred from over-stressed herd management areas to others that are healthy, rather than sending them to holding pens.

"The figures I've seen show that almost as many horses are in holding pens as on the range," she said. "It takes a lot of taxpayers' money to do that."

The demonstration, set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., was organized by We the People for Wild Horses and Burros.

To the protest, meet at the parking lot north of the Capitol at 10:30 a.m.

Grass-roots efforts on behalf of Nevada's wild horses began in the 1950s with the efforts of Velma B. Johnson, known as Wild Horse Annie.

Through her efforts, the "Wild Horse Annie Act" became law Sept. 8, 1959. But it did not include Johnson's recommendation that Congress initiate a program to protect, manage, and control wild horses and burros.

By 1971, the population of wild horses had diminished drastically due to development.

Legislators introduced a bill in the 92nd Congress to provide for the necessary management, protection and control of the wild horses and burros. The bill was signed into law Dec. 15, 1971.

Roughly 18,000 wild horses roam Nevada. The number needs to be reduced by just a few thousand, to between 14,000 and 15,000, to maintain a healthy balance between wildlife interests and the horses, said Maxine Shane, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management.

"We're closer than we've ever been," she said. "But the bureau stands between wildlife commissioners that want to see appropriate management levels right now and horse advocates."

Contact Susie Vasquez at or 881-1212.


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