Guest OpEd by Arlene Gawne
Election D-Day is Coming and Few Choices in Nevada
In Nevada, in just a few weeks’ time, we citizens have to choose between two Senatorial candidates – incumbent Senator Harry Reid or his challenger, Sharron Angle. Now if you are a wild horse advocate that is a rotten choice! Why you may ask? Let’s begin with Mrs. Angle. When I personally spoke to Sharron Angle months ago about the terrible demise of the wild herds in our state and the loss of potential eco-tourism jobs, she clenched her fists and said for the sake of full disclosure, her husband had worked for the BLM in Tonopah for many decades and that those horses were starving on that range, and it was a good thing that the BLM pulled them off. And if I wanted to see wild horses in good condition I should go to the Palomino adoption facility near Reno NV and see how much better off they were there. Well I have heard quite a few negative things about that facility and its’ care of wild horses, but Mrs. Angle closed the discussion by walking off, angry it seemed.
So Sharron Angle does not impartially relate to the various sides of the wild horse & burro issues such why our national heritage – those drastically reduced herds of wild horses and burros living on public land at less than 1 animal per 1,300 football fields – deserve a fair share of public land where they can live in natural family bands, move seasonally for appropriate forage and water without competing with private livestock, running into cattle fences or crossing unfenced horse management areas and thereby becoming “estray horses” to be sold to slaughterhouse buyers. Nor does Sharron Angle appear to realize that there is an international as well as national market of visitors prepared to pay good dollars to see free-roaming wild herds in the beautiful state of Nevada. Visitors will come to see wild horses but stay to enjoy our rural scenery, history, cafes, cowboy poets, to mention but a few things we have to offer. In other words, wild horse eco-tourism means desperately needed new jobs for rural and urban Nevada.
That leaves me to consider the incumbent Senator Harry Reid, and here I flounder. I and others have spoken at length to Senator Reid’s staff about ecotourism and a fair share of public range to no effect. I have spoken directly to Senator Reid about the extreme number of wild horses being removed from Nevada public land in 2010 alone. By BLM admission, at least 4,023 of Nevada’s horses will be removed and only 1,726 returned to the public land with all returning mares on contraceptives, at a skewed ratio of 40 mares to 60 stallions and not in pre-existing family bands with mature band stallions or lead mares knowledgeable in water, forage and safety on their range. Furthermore, in the very ranges were horses were deemed excessive in number or suffering without water, private livestock numbers have been increased e.g the Calico HMAs, NV and water was found in abundance e.g.Tuscarora HMAs, NV. After I mentioned that helicopter chases cost tens of millions to taxpayers and prove deadly to many horses, Senator Reid soothed me with statements that he too hates to see the wild horses in holding pens and he is working with Madeline Pickens to bring those horses back to Nevada. Well that will be news to her. Madeline Pickens has not benefited by his “co-operation” as the BLM has been procrastinating for over two years on her proposed wild horse sanctuary. Crocodile tears do not impress me any longer, not in struggling Las Vegas where we need to diversify our tourism base so that jumbo jets from Europe and Asia will bring visitors who want to enjoy our Wild Herds Wild in our West. Senator Reid does not try to rein in the bloated and free-spending Dept. of the Interior bureaucracy or its leader, Secretary Ken Salazar. Indeed, Senator Reid did not use his impressive power in the current administration to put a moratorium on costly roundups when we taxpayers lack the tax revenue to provide for those horses in captivity. That makes me wonder if there really is great truth in former Senator Burns declaration that Harry Reid helped him write the 2004 Amendment that gutted the 1971 Free-Roaming Wild Horses & Burros Act after it was slipped unnoticed into an appropriations bill just before midnight.
So can anyone suggest an intelligent, honest write-in candidate for Nevada Senatorial race this November? I am all ears.
Fortunately there is one Nevada candidate that has consistently stood up for potential wild horse eco-tourism jobs and the need to protect our vanishing wild horses & burros. That’s our incumbent Representative Dina Titus who is in a close race for Nevada’s Third Congressional Seat with Joe Heck. Dina has been a refreshing change from most Nevadan politicians and I am eager to cast my vote for her. I haven’t heard Joe Heck deliver any ideas for wild horse & burro protection.
If only Dina could be the write-in candidate for the Senate – that less than illustrious body that consistently stalls wild horse & burro protection bills and approves massive annual budget increases for BLM roundups and incarceration of wild horses. Too bad senators weren’t limited to 2 year terms and had to face our public anger regularly. Please pass me the BIG bottle of aspirin.
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