In 1971, Congress unanimously passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, granting federal protection to America's wild horses and burros as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West,” noting that they “contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people.”
This act was largely the result of decades of a personal crusade launched by Velma Johnston, aka “Wild Horse Annie,” whose massive letter writing campaign resulted in the 1971 act. Descendants of this herd, Virginia Range Horses, still free range on State lands in Nevada. In an ironic twist of fate, the Virginia Range horses of Nevada are under siege. Nevada’s Virginia Range is home to about 1,000 wild horses.
Photo by, Tony Stromberg
Because it is located on state (rather than federal) land, the herd is under the jurisdiction of the Nevada Department of Agriculture. The Department’s new Director, recently appointed by Governor Gibbons, just announced a plan to remove many of the horses and sell them at auction, where they will likely be picked up by kill-buyers for the horse slaughter industry.
Though advocates have been successful in shutting down slaughter plants in the US, American horses are still trucked to Canada and Mexico by the thousands each week where they suffer a gruesome and barbaric death. American horses are slaughtered for their meat, which is a delicacy in France, Belgium and Japan.
Humane and cost effective alternatives exist for managing wild horse populations, such as wild horse contraception, which has been used successfully by the National Park Service on Assateague Island for nearly two decades.
Return to Freedom joins the national community in denouncing any plans to round up this herd and sell the animals at auction, and urges the State of Nevada to defer to public opinion in deciding the fate of this beloved wildlife species.
The public can voice opinions to:
• Governor Jim Gibbons: ph 775.684.5670; fax 775.684.5683.
• Nevada Commission on Tourism, 401 North Carson Street, Carson City , NV 89701; ph: 800.638.2328
• Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, ph: 702.892.0711; fax: 702.892.2906.
For further info, contact Jill Anderson, Director of Development & Communications, Return to Freedom, American Wild Horse Sanctuary.
Ph: (805) 737-9246 Fax: (805) 800-0868. Taken at Return To Freedom ( www.returntofreedom.org )