NV Cattlemen Back Measure to Sell Wild Horses for Slaughter - 8 News NOW

NV Cattlemen Back Measure to Sell Wild Horses for Slaughter

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(Dec. 2) -- The Nevada Cattlemen's Association backs the idea but animal welfare activists are urging President Bush to veto legislation allowing the Bureau of Land Management to sell unwanted wild horses for fear they will be slaughtered.

A measure tucked into an appropriations bill Congress passed late last month permits BLM to sell any wild horses that are more than 10 years old or that no one wants to adopt.

"We're real excited about that," said Preston Wright of Deeth, president of the Nevada Cattlemen's Association.

"It's a major step forward on getting a handle on the horse population. Wild horses have been a problem for some ranchers," he told the Elko Daily Free Press.

"This will allow BLM to sell a backlog of older horses, which should allow them to go ahead with gathers," he said.

Wild horses and cattle compete for forage and for water when the horse herds are too large.

The measure states that an excess animal shall be made available for sale "without limitation, including through auction to the highest bidder, at local sale yards or other convenient livestock selling facilities ..."

The bill overrides the clause in federal law stating that no free-roaming horses or burros can be sold for processing into commercial products.

In Nevada, the BLM's goal is to reduce wild horse numbers from the current 19,000 to 14,500. BLM Director Bob Abbey recently told the Nevada Wildlife Commission that herds should be at the appropriate management levels by 2006, if BLM gets adequate funding.

Wild horse advocates are concerned the change in legislation could lead to the slaughter of thousands of healthy horses.

Leo Grillo, founder of Horse Rescue of America in Glendale, Calif., said he has launched a Web site to show a 45-minute film of a BLM roundup of horses so the President Bush "can see the faces of the animals Congress is threatening to kill."

He urged Bush to use his veto power "to kill this inhumane act."

Most of the wild horses in the West roam BLM and other public lands, Grillo said.

"Much of this land is leased to `investors' who turn around and sublease the land for as much as 1000 percent mark up to cattle ranchers," Grillo said.

"Horses, deer and elk compete with privately owned cattle for the grass on this land. In order to keep profits going to investors -- not the U.S. Treasury -- the government shoots the deer and the elk and rounds up the wild horses so there will be enough grass for the cattle," he said.

Horse Rescue of America

Nevada Cattlemen's Association

Burean of Land Management Wild Horses

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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