Horse News

Nevada Welfare Ranchers Cannot Compute the Wild Horse Debate

Editorial by John L. Smith of the Mesquite Local News (Reprint)

“Good Ole Boy” Mentality an Embarrassment to the State

Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

A horse walks into a bar.

The bartender comes over and says, “Why the long face?”

Who knows, maybe the equine was a mustang that had just heard about AB329, the malodorous pile of legislation that should be drawing flies and instead is attracting bipartisan support from Nevada elected officials who should know better. An element of the legislation, which has already passed a vote in the Assembly by a wide margin, changes the definition of “wildlife” to included “any wild animal, wild bird, reptile amphibian, mollusk or crustacean naturally found in a wild state whether indigenous to Nevada or not and whether raised in captivity or not. The term does not include any horse or burro.”

Not surprisingly, the bill was structured on behalf of Nevada’s ranchers, who have long protested the existence of wild horses on their rangeland. By “their” rangeland, of course, I mean the extremely arid federal land used for graze by their cows and sheep. Those wild horses, about 16,000 of them in the Silver State, compete for what grass exists in Nevada.

Not only that, but the horses drink from stock ponds and watering holes that are maintained by the ranchers, who accuse the mustangs of muddying the precious resources. The bachelor males are known to treat water holes the way rock stars trash hotel rooms.

Advocates for the wild horses believe the change in the legal language one day will mean ranchers will feel no compunction about driving mustangs away from water sources, which is a good way to thin their numbers and reduce the grazing competition. Some call the horse huggers paranoid. But they point to decades of history to illustrate their contention that their fears are justified: Many ranchers have wanted wild horses off the range and into the slaughterhouse for decades.

Backers of the measure contend the horse huggers are overwrought without cause. They say the bill is intended to prevent the federal government from grabbing new water rights aimed at serving the horses and unintentionally encouraging the growth of the already unwieldy population.

The trouble with wrenching any law that has an impact on the wild horses is two-fold: One, they’re federally protected by the 1971 Free-Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act and the Bureau of Land Management should be playing bartender on their behalf. Two, the horses have no shortage of advocates capable of splashing the cause of the animals in newspapers and on television sets all over the world.

Because the ranchers largely haven’t shown good faith in embracing the federally protected beasts, their credibility on the issue is reed-slim.

This battle has been fought and won by advocates of the wild horse. Instead of accepting the fact that wild horses and burros enjoy a modicum of federal protection, and taking advantage of their mystique by repositioning themselves in the public eye, ranchers and their allies in the Legislature insist on playing games of semantics and encouraging litigation that Nevada simply can’t win either in court or in the court of public opinion.

Perhaps the bipartisan brain trust that’s backing AB329 labored under the mistaken belief that such onerous and politically charged language might somehow slip into law without scrutiny while the rest of the state was busy fretting about the wobbly budget and the fragile economy. What they fail to take into consideration is the way this bill makes Nevada look in the eyes of the nation and horse-loving world.

In a word, cruel.

At least now we know why the horse that walked into the bar had such a long face.

He was parched and looking for water.

16 replies »

  1. Please call this number 702-486-2626, give the bill number AB329, vote against & your name & address.

    Public opinion poll to voice our opposition. She said the senators really watch these polls so be sure to pass the word around to call. I also asked her if this poll was only for Nevada Residents, as I am a life longer :), & she said “Anyone” can call.


  2. The interests behind this bill (as many other) reducing the stature and rights of any wildlife (especially mustangs and burros) with the assistance of the agency in charge of protecting them says it ALL.

    They know the debate, facts and laws….they just choose to ignore them because they got extraction interests AND big Ag behind them. Let’s not forget the politicians are right there with them looking for perks and campaign money handouts.

    Someday gentlemen….someday this circle of privilege and hubris will be undone and humbled.


  3. I am simply appalled at the ignorance of these legislators. All they care about is money and re-election. The people vote them in and they can vote them out!


  4. To all those legislators that want to vote for this I suggest that while we have them all together we should start discussion on what the new WELFARE RANCHING grazing fees are going to be. For being so damn intelligent they keep forgetting one important point — “IT’S NOT THEIR DAMN LAND”


  5. Any elected official voting for AB329 should be
    voted out of office permanently – never to run again. This is cruelty in its highest form. Their pockets are lined with monies from the ranchers and big business and this means they are corrupt, corrupt, corrupt. We do not want these individuals in office. They are not truly representing the American citizen. Let’s get together and make a difference for our beautiful wild horses and burros and “lets roll”, getting their attention that if they vote for this, their days in office will be limited. We must win this fight for our beloved wild horses and burros. We can’t see them dying like flies on this parched range without water.


  6. Gee I wonder what one of those ranchers would do if one of us dared to visit one of the remaining HMA’s and gave the horses water that WE had purchased?

    To deny any animal water is totally beyond cruel. Without water man would die in 4/5 days. It is just inconceivable to me. How can anyone think this is in anyway humane???

    RT or Laura is there any hotel in Elko, Battle Mountain or Wells that is or appears to be horse friendly? I want to be sure that when I go thru I’m not paying a hotel that is in cohoots with the horsehating ranchers. I’d rather pay a small operation for their position than stay at a chain that is proactive in removing the horses.




  7. This kind of publicity is not good for any state…this bill combined with the Horse tripping scandal is bad news..PERIOD…and who needs that? Nevada needs all of the good press and revenue that it can get right now.


  8. What about Horse Shows and Fairs? They do generate revenue, but Horse owners from out of state might well decide not to take their Horses there.


  9. DONE !!!! My NO vote on AB329. Posted the phone number and RT’s article to share on behalf of our wild horses and burros.


  10. Called this number and the Nevada Tourism and left comments regarding my opposition AB329.
    I am so blown away that people can be this stone cold-hearted. I would hate to be a family member of any of them. Anyone who can harm innocent animals can without a doubt harm, or abuse those close to him/her. I wonder how they will face their inevitable demise, will they have a peaceful death, I doubt it. How can your spirit leave with peace when you have caused so much pain and suffering to other living beings.
    I hate to say this, but I hope you suffer 10x more than those innocent horses/burrows have suffered under your reign of terror.


  11. Oops.. my reply to Louie didn’t post (probably had too many links in it).
    The gist of it was:
    In the Nevada Legislative Gift Shop – at the link Louie gave: Check out the tapestries. They feature NEVADA SYMBOLS, and I quote: ” … Nevada symbols including the Mountain Bluebird, Desert Bighorn Sheep, Bristlecone Pine Tree, Pinion Pine Tree, Sagebrush, Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, Desert Tortoise and the Damselfly. At the top and bottom of the tapestry are depictions of our majestic Sierra mountain ranges and Nevada’s wild mustangs.”
    Now isn’t that SWEET? They show only one image of each of their treasured wild life, but the Wild Mustangs are SO treasured, they show FOUR mustangs! How Precious! (While they try to legislate the outright, premeditated murder the mustangs, one way or another.)
    The Gift Shop also has some precious NEVADA SYMBOLS in the way of toys (including mustangs), And Puzzles (including mustangs), And Postcards (with mustangs).
    I am delighted that they proudly use Wild Mustangs as one of their treasured “Symbols”.
    I will be far more delighted when they treat the mustangs with the dignity and compassion they deserve.


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