BLM to remove more wild horses
RENO – The Bureau of Land Management is moving closer to its goal of reducing wild horses and burros to a number that Nevada’s ranges can sustain, state wildlife officials were told.
“If we get the funding we need, we will be at appropriate management levels by 2006,” BLM Nevada Director Bob Abbey said at a meeting Saturday of the Nevada Wildlife Commission.
The agency is trying to reduce Nevada’s wild-horse numbers from 19,000 to 14,500, Abbey said. Nevada has more than half of the nation’s 32,000 wild horses.
Early this year, the nine-member commission voted to recommend filing a lawsuit accusing the BLM of mismanaging the state’s wild horses and burros.
But Gov. Kenny Guinn opposed the move, saying he came away from a meeting with Interior Secretary Gale Norton convinced that she’ll reduce the herds.
Both Guinn and the commission are pressing Congress for funding to reduce the animals, saying their large numbers endanger the state’s wildlife.
“We have over 50 percent of the wild horse population but get less than 20 percent of the funding for wild-horse management,” said Bill Bradley, commission member.
Bradley complained that mule deer numbers are down by as much as 50 percent in Nevada, yet wild horses continue to adversely affect the range.
He and other commissioners are concerned that wild horses and burros are competing for scarce resources with wildlife.
Bighorn sheep numbers in the Red Rock Canyon area near Las Vegas are down due to soaring wild horse and burro numbers, they add.
“These ranges won’t support a Mormon cricket, but there are still horses out there,” Bradley said.
BLM Deputy Director Fran Cherry said the agency is responding to the concerns. Of about $7.6 million the BLM reallocated for thinning herds, he said, Nevada got $1.5 million.
The BLM rounds up wild horses from public land and takes them to long-term holding facilities, where many are put up for public auction.
Wild-horse advocates are odds with the BLM, which contends the animals are overrunning parts of the West and need annual roundups to thin the herd.
Advocates say some of the millions of cattle grazing public rangeland should be removed.