Guinn Asks Feds For Funding For Wild Horse Round Up

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Gov. Kenny Guinn is pressing Congress for funding to thin wild horse herds in Nevada, saying their large numbers endanger the state's wildlife and ranching.

The Republican governor made the request in a letter sent Friday to Sen. Conrad Burns and Rep. Charles Taylor, chairmen of the Interior appropriations subcommittees in their respective houses.

In November, Guinn asked the Bureau of Land Management to remove 6,000 wild horses from Nevada ranges by July. Nevada is home to more than 18,000 wild horses and burros.

"Currently, Nevada receives only 14 percent of the national budget for wild horse funding, in spite of more than half the (nation's) herd living in our state," Guinn wrote.

"The federal government has a responsibility to properly manage the resources on public lands in a manner that does not adversely impact its neighbors. Effective management by the BLM requires adequate funding from Congress to do the job in Nevada," the governor added.

Guinn said an Interior Department proposal to earmark $7 million toward horse gathers in Nevada would be only a short-term solution.

Burns, R-Mont., said he agrees there are too many wild horses on the range, but it's uncertain whether funding can be found to meet Guinn's request.

"People are concerned about the deficit and deficit spending, and the next budget will be very, very tough to find those dollars," Burns said Saturday. "One way or another we'll come up with some imaginative way to approach this."

Burns said Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., shares his concerns over wild horse numbers, but their past efforts to thin herds drew opposition from wild horse advocates.

"We ran into problems with groups who don't think there's a problem," Burns told The Associated Press. "Some people either ignore or don't know what the range will carry to sustain a herd.

"But more and more people are gaining knowledge and getting smarter. We know in Nevada you have a real problem."

Guinn said he came away from a Feb. 7 meeting in Las Vegas with Interior Secretary Gale Norton convinced that she'll take steps to thin the herds.

As a result, the governor has opposed a state Wildlife Commission recommendation that he sue the BLM for mismanaging the state's herd.

In his letter, Guinn said wild horse numbers have caused a decrease in the amount of available habitat, threatening wildlife, ranching and sagebrush habitat.