Jim Bagwell: Refusing to come to the table no way to debate an issue

A few months ago I commented on the wild horse issue. Since then, T. Boone Pickens' wife has bought a ranch in Elko County with hopes of saving every mustang in Nevada. Now we have a conference in Las Vegas that apparently advocates resuming selling horses for slaughter.

I guess I'm confused - is the wild horse endangered? A few months ago I was north of Pyramid Lake and saw some

100-plus horses and didn't leave the roadway or look for them. The one thing I am not confused about is the passion and hysteria of the groups that support and want to save the wild horse.

This wild horse summit in Las Vegas invited Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey to speak and participate. Wild horse advocates think it is inappropriate for Abbey to participate because some attendees support the commercial slaughter of horses. Since when does an advocacy group get to set the agenda for anyone that might not agree with them or seeks more knowledge?

Abbey has an obligation to listen to every person with an opinion on this issue and find the best solution for all, including the horse. The BLM has as its charge to be a multiple-use agency and to find harmony among every potential user of our public lands.

If Abbey were not to attend because he didn't want to offend one advocacy group over another, I would be offended.

This conference is drawing government officials, sportsmen, wildlife advocates, tribal officials, ranchers and other experts from around the country. It is a shame the wild horse advocates will not be there. This is the very kind of gathering that should occur so that all thoughts are presented and logical solutions arrived at. This one meeting won't provide a solution but it could be the first step to one.

The truth of the matter is we cannot afford to continue on the path we are on. Simple math says we cannot continue to increase funding to pay for horses in captivity in Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Nevada. As many horses are being held in these facilities as are running loose on the range in 10 Western states. We long ago exceeded range capacity and now we are exceeding our financial ability to maintain ever-growing numbers in holding locations.

My suggestion to Ginger Kathrens, director of Cloud Foundation, is to attend these meetings and present your case. If your thoughts have merit they will prevail. Simply going hysterical will not solve the problem and will usually compound it. Refusing to attend and berating those that do only discredits you and your cause.

• Jim Bagwell of Carson City is a Vietnam veteran and graduate of the FBI National Academy who worked 31 years in law enforcement. He and his wife Lori own Charley's Grilled Subs.


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