Longtime Nevadan joins BLM horse protest
Native Nevadan Alice Gottschalk-Downer, 91, joined a group of concerned citizens demonstrating in support of Nevada’s wild horses and burros in front of the state Capitol Wednesday.
“I believe in legal grazing rights for the cattle and sheep industries, but not at the expense of the wild horses,” Gottschalk-Downer said. “They live in sparse conditions. They represent courage, and they legally belong to the lands. The idea of gathering them by helicopter is both cruel and expensive. It isn’t the answer.”
The group is challenging the number of wild horses removed from the range by the Bureau of Land Management. Gottschalk-Downer said the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 gives the animals legal right a portion of the range.
“I don’t think there are as many wild horses as they say, and they never give the numbers of cattle grazing,” she said. “Animals on the range need to be controlled, but the process needs to be fair.”
Gottschalk-Downer graduated from the University of Nevada in 1934 to become a teacher in a series of one-room schoolhouses for 25 years.
When asked about the Bureau of Land Management’s proposal to keep Nevada’s wild horses here and pay Nevada ranchers for their care, she was cautious.
“We must watch the issues very carefully and offer a lot of public input,” she said. “We the people are part of the public lands. Sometimes when we speak up, we stand alone, but we shouldn’t be intimidated. We should feel free to express ourselves.”
Born and raised in Lovelock Valley, Gottschalk-Downer said most ranchers respected the wild horses when she was growing up, but many of those smaller operations have been replaced by large corporations.
With that, much of the close-knit feeling and respect for the horses has been lost, but Gottschalk-Downer said she still respects both types of ranchers..
She grew up riding some of those “wild” horses once they had been domesticated, and lived next door to James G. Taylor, author of the Taylor Grazing Act. Passed in 1934, the federal legislation regulated grazing on the public lands through permits.
Gottschalk-Downer was joined by about 12 other supporters . Demonstrations are scheduled on Wednesdays in front of the Capitol from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For more information, call 241-0640, 246-3468 or 241-0406.
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