Proposal To Euthanize Wild Horses Spurs Debate

RENO (AP) - Animal rights activists and ranchers are split over federal officials' proposal to euthanize wild horses to deal with surplus numbers on the range and in holding facilities.

Chris Heyde of the Washington, D.C.-based Animal Welfare Institute says horse advocates will mount a campaign against the proposal announced last week by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Agency officials said they're faced with tough choices because wild horses have overpopulated public lands in Nevada and other Western states and they no longer can afford to care for the number of animals that have been rounded up.

Ron Cerri of the Rebel Creek Ranch in Orovada is president-elect of the Nevada Cattlemen's Association.

He says ranchers would prefer horses be adopted but euthanasia
may be necessary to keep their numbers down.

Cerri criticized the agency's proposal to stop roundups of wild horses to save money. Ranchers view mustangs as competition for forage on the range.

There are an estimated 33,000 wild horses in 10 Western states.
About half of those are in Nevada.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-07-06-08 1714EDT