Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008 | 3:20 p.m.
Wild horses may be the symbol of the Wild West and the image chosen by the state's children to grace the Nevada quarter, but no one has figured out how to make a buck off of these noble creatures. That's why the future of the wild horse is shaky. Unlike cattle, which can bring a hefty profit to the state's ranchers, wild horses are viewed by many as a nuisance. They are healthy breeders, have few predators and compete for grazing land with profitable species.
Now, the Bureau of Land Management, which has federal authority to euthanize horses more than 10 years old which have been passed over three times for adoption, is considering euthanization as a new herd management tactic. The BLM admits it could do more to increase adoptions, but they are time consuming and a lot of work. Euthanization is quick, and best of all, it's cheap. In case you're wondering, the BLM is considering three methods - a gunshot to the brain, an overdose of barbiturates, or a bolt to the skull, the killing technique portrayed in the movie "No Country for Old Men."
BLM official Mike Holbert cited drought as a reason for thinning the herds, but was at a loss to explain why the BLM, as illustrated in a report by Channel 8 I-Team reporter George Knapp, would deny the horses access to a rural watering hole by fencing it off. Holbert claimed ignorance of the well's location, despite Knapp's precise directions on how to locate it.
Knapp gives his take on why he believes the BLM is out to cull the population, and it has little to do with necessity. Also on the program, horse advocate and former Harry Reid aide, Jerry Reynoldson, who points out the wear and tear caused by 33,000 wild horses on Nevada rangelands pales in comparison to that of more than half a million head of cattle. Reynoldson says animal activists are planning a legal assault against the BLM to challenge the science the Bureau cites in its arguments for euthanizing thousands of wild horses.