Ensign: Sides polarized in Congress on wild-horse issues

ELKO (AP) - U.S. Sen. John Ensign says opposing sides on the question of what to do about wild horses are polarized on the issue in Congress, but he expects the new law allowing the sale of horses to survive.

He told an Elko audience he still is mulling his decision on efforts to derail the new law.

U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., have introduced legislation to restore the federal prohibition on the commercial sale and slaughter of wild free-roaming horses and burros.

Ensign's comments came as the U.S. Bureau of Land Management continued a gathering of wild horses in southern Elko County and a portion of White Pine County.

The gathering reached 1,607 horses as of Thursday night, Elko BLM spokesman Mike Brown said.

Congress approved an amendment to an appropriations bill near the end of the last session to permit BLM to sell old wild horses and those that aren't adopted after three tries.

Critics fear the horses will be sold for slaughter, for their meat.

"Wild horses are a difficult issue we face," Ensign, R-Nev., said.

He said one side sees the need to get many of the wild horses off the land, while the other side wants the government to take care of the animals at whatever the cost.

Federal resources are limited, said Ensign, who is a veterinarian.

BLM won't be selling horses any time soon, however, since the agency has to prepare new regulations and publish them, the agency reported earlier.


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