Animal Advocates Worry Bill Would Decimate Wild Horse Herds - 8 News NOW

Animal Advocates Worry Bill Would Decimate Wild Horse Herds

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LAS VEGAS - Wild horse advocates worry the animals will not survive if a proposed bill passes the Nevada Legislature. The bill would re-classify Nevada's wild-roaming horses, no longer considering them "wildlife." Some believe it would deny the mustangs access to sufficient water.

Wild horses represent the spirit of Nevada. Wild horse advocates worry new legislation would damage that spirit and cause the living symbol of the American west to die off.

"It could ultimately lead to the deaths of tens of thousands of wild horses and burros from dehydration, leaving a black eye on our state," said Humane Society Nevada State Director Holly Haley.

Advocates for the animals say a short paragraph in Assembly Bill 329 could be catastrophic for the animals.

Read Assembly Bill 329

The bill would no longer classify wild horses and burros as "wildlife." Champions of mustangs worry this language sets the stage to strip the animals of their rights to drink water on public land.

"How could anyone deprive any living creature of water," asked wild horse advocate Rhea Little. "Taking the water rights away from our wild horses, America's wild horses, is removing the wild horses."

Wild horse advocates and concerned citizens lined up Friday to testify against the legislation. They outnumbered the bill's supporters three to one.

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The Nevada Farm Bureau testified wild horses first had drinking rights in 1980, drank plenty of water before that, and will continue to have access to water if AB329 becomes law.

"There is no intent and no wording in this bill to prevent wild horses and burros from drinking water," said Nevada Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Doug Bussleman.

Wild horse advocate Arlene Gawne believes these animals that call Nevada home are national treasures, and we should embrace them.

"The bill is idiocy," she said. "The thing that we need most in Nevada is new jobs, and eco-tourists (coming) to see wild horses and burros could generate millions of dollars annually."

Other supporters of the legislation say wild horses are out of control, taking away range land from other wildlife and monopolizing water sources from antelope, big horn sheep, deer, and elk.

Wild horse advocates say all living creatures deserve this life-sustaining resource.

The Assembly already passed the bill. It now goes to the Nevada Senate. If it becomes law, legal action is expected, because wild horses and burros are federally protected.

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