Wild-horse debate should be open to all | NevadaAppeal.com

Wild-horse debate should be open to all

Nevada Appeal Editorial

Seems like nothing gets the fur up on the back of Nevadans like the slaughter of wild horses. But it’s a wasted effort if you don’t consider the second half of the equation.

What really should make us angry, furious, even brings us out en force is the dirty trick played by Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., in attaching his one-page rider on the 3,000-page spending bill passed by Congress.

Whether you agree with or oppose Burns’ measure is immaterial. You should be angry that, like a horse thief in the night, he sneaked the bill in.

The bill, written for ranchers who are concerned about protecting the range and overpopulation/overuse of the range, allows for the sale of free-roaming horses that are older than 10 years or had been offered for sale under a separate Bureau of Land Management adoption program three times without being purchased.

The rider, which went into effect in December, amends the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Protection Act passed in 1971. The protection act was championed by Nevada’s Velma “Wild Horse Annie” Johnson.

So far, 41 horses have died under the bill. But something more important has been lost. Americans lost their chance to decide the matter. By sneaking in the bill, Burns took from Americans their opportunity to weigh in on the issue.

Whether you subscribe to the faction which believes in protection or not, as a free American and as a Nevadan, you have to be angry about Burns’ sneak attack on our democratic process. Bills to repeal his are making their way through Congress. The debate is now before Americans, out in the open, even trumpeted by celebrities, and that’s how it should be.