The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

More and more reporters looking for the "real story"...

Wild Horses Future Threatened, George Knapp, KLAS, Las Vegas...

"Wild horse advocates are bracing for what they say could be the slaughter of thousands of horses now being held in government sanctuaries.

More than half of the nation's wild horses live in Nevada, but after decades of protection and management, the herds are threatened by a new congressional policy that was adopted with no public debate.

One hundred years ago, two million wild horses roamed the American West. Today there are about 36,000. They survived largely because of vocal political efforts by Nevada' wild horse Annie to stop brutal roundups and wholesale slaughter.

Late last year, Congress obliterated those protections. The vote was taken at night on a weekend and without a word of public debate.

'It's a betrayal,' said horse advocate Jerry Reynoldson. He says the quickie decision to sell off wild horses blind-sided everyone who works with the animals. A year ago this month, Reynoldson was in talks with the Bureau of Land Management in Washington and Nevada about plans to revamp the troubled [program].

BLM told him the idea for a pilot horse adoption program sounded great. But behind the scenes, ranching interests were working on a more permanent solution. Allowing the sale of horses to whomever makes it all but certain that Nevada horses will end up on dinner plates in France and Japan, and someone will make a lot of money sending them there.

'Without a doubt there are people who've believed for a long time these horses should be sent to the slaughterhouse. It's all they're good for,' Reynoldson said. He adds the real betrayal stems from what hasn't been done by...

In 2001, the bureau paid for a massive study of the wild horse program. The study said the way to resolve the backlog of horses in the system was to make the adoptions program work. BLM is great at rounding up horses, not so great at finding them homes. The study called for a national marketing and education campaign. It identified potential adopters.

Most importantly, it advised taking the program out of its eastern states office, getting it closer to where the horses are, meaning, out west. Nevada for example, has more than 50-percent of the horses, but gets only 15-percent of the program's budget, with almost nothing for adoptions.

BLM paid lip service to a few ideas from the study, but has shown no interest in taking the big steps. And while there have been no sales to slaughterhouses yet; BLM has already identified which horses could be the first to go.

'If they think they are gonna haul a bunch of horses off to the the slaughterhouse in the dark of night and no one will ever know about it, it will not happen that way. This has the potential to get really ugly,' Reynoldson."


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