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

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Wild Horse Protection Sought

Federal law change could doom animals to Europe's dinner tables--By David Kihara...Las Vegas Sun, Feb. 23...<
'Thousands of previously protected wild horses and burros in Nevada and across the country are currently in danger of being sold to slaughterhouses despite vocal protests to keep the treasured 'symbols of the West' from ending up on dinner tables in Europe.

One group protesting the move, the National Wild Horse Association based in Nevada, held a rally on Tuesday at the West Charleston Library to bring awareness to recent changes in the federal law that previously shielded the wild horses from being sold to slaughterhouses.

'We need to ensure that these wild horses remain protected and do not get sent to the slaughterhouses,' said Laurie Howard, vice president of the NWHA, at the West Charleston Library.

She was joined by state Sen. Dina Titus, actress Theresa Russell and more than 100 wild horse enthusiasts.

Almost 19,000 wild horses and burros roam on public lands in Nevada, and an estimated 37,000 wild horses and burros are currently living on public lands across the country.

Because Nevada is home to the majority of wild horses across the country, 'the wild horses have come to be recognized as symbols of Nevada,' Titus said.

The threat to the more than 8,400 wild horses currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management came last November, when U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., slipped an amendment into the federal omnibus bill that allows the BLM to sell the wild horses.

Known as the 'Burns amendment,' the revision targets the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act and strips away previous prohibitions against selling the wild horses.

The amendment now allows the BLM to sell 'without limit' wild horses that are 10 years old or have not been successfully adopted on three tries. It targets approximately 8,400 wild horses currently held in dozens of BLM managed long- or short-term holding facilities.

There are about 24,000 wild horses and burros in long and short-term holding facilities. The BLM gathered the horses as part of its land- management policy, which is aimed at controlling the population of wild horses, wild life and livestock on public lands.

The greatest danger under this new amendment, which the NWHA refers to as the 'slaughter bill,' is that the horses will be sold to crooked horse traders who will sell the animals to one of three slaughterhouses in America that package and sell the meat to France, Belgium or Japan, opponents of the bill said.

'The horses are now subject to public auction and slaughter,' said Robin Lohnes, executive director of the Wash. D.C.-based American Horse Protection Association, who spoke at the rally.

Although the BLM has not yet sold any of the wild horses and is giving assurances that it will first attempt to find safe and appropriate homes for the animals, Lohnes said the danger remains.

Besides bringing awareness to the plight of the wild horses, the NWHA also wanted to raise support for legislation in the House looking to restore the previous protections.

The bill, introduced recently by Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W. Va., is co-sponsored by several lawmakers including both democrats and republicans.

One person who wants to see those safeguards restored is Teri Eagle, who owns two wild horses in Las Vegas and attended the rally.

'The (Burns amendment) wasn't ever presented to the public,' she said.

Eagle, who lives on a 1 1/2 acres lot south of Las Vegas Boulevard, said she has had a lifelong love of horses, even as a child growing up in Miami. She moved to Nevada 45 years ago.

Last year, she adopted another wild horse because she promised her 10-year-old granddaughter that she would get her one.

'They are amazing animals,' she said."



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