A heartbreaking new atrocity is happening to wild horses and burros in Nevada. This time it isn’t BLM flying overhead with helicopters to round them up; instead it is legislation that would deny them access to water.
Horsetalk.co.nz reported the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign have joined forces to urge Nevada state legislators to reject AB 329 — a bill that would “leave Nevada littered with the bodies of wild horses and burros.”
The Animal Law Coalition says the bill would re-define the definition of “wildlife” to specifically exclude wild horses and burros in the appropriation of water.
This means, wild horses and burros would not be entitled to drinking water.
AB 329 has already passed the Assembly with a vote of 35-7. It is now pending in the Senate Natural Resources Committee.
The Animal Law Coalition revealed the rationale behind the proposal:
The bill is the result of cattle ranchers who formed a committee last year to devise a way to remove wild horses and burros from public lands. Their solution: remove the animals for using water or deny them water.
The organization also said, “But whether or not the state of Nevada choose to call these animals ‘wildlife,’ they are still federally protected under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, which assures their right to ‘beneficial use’ of water.”
If AB 329 passes it will go directly against federal law.
Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea introduced the proposal as an innocent neutral water appropriation bill, but admits he did so at the request of cattlemen and hunters from northeastern Nevada.
The ASPCA and AWHPC explained, “These narrow special interest groups view wild horses and burros as competition for cheap commercial livestock grazing and big game hunting on public lands.”
The animal welfare organizations have hired attorney Bruce Wagman of the national law firm, Schiff Hardin LLC to represent the interest of the animals.
In a letter to Governor Brian Sandoval, Wagman said:
Contrary to the claims of AB 329 supporters, this proposed law could have a catastrophic impact on wild horses and burros, who depend on these natural water sources for survival. The bill is a direct assault on the federal law, enacted unanimously by the Congress and with overwhelming support of the public, to protect wild horses and burros as part of our national heritage.
Wild horses and burros are an integral part of U.S. history. They deserve to roam free on the land where they were born.
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign has two petitions to sign. One is for Nevada residents and the other as concerned citizens. Click Here to read the petitions.
Creative Commons -David Reece