Elko Commissioners Push For Wild Horse Solution

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Elko County commissioners said they will take the lead if necessary to push the federal government into controlling wild horse populations in Nevada.

"We have a lot of ranchers in the area and we have the responsibility to step up to the plate," Commissioner Charlie Myers said last week. "This really has a dramatic impact."

Chairman Mike Nannini agreed the county needed to spearhead action for a long-term solution to the growing numbers of wild horses.

"What we need to do is come up with a solution and it is going to have to start here," he said.

Assemblyman John Carpenter, R-Elko, said the problem needed to become a state issue if any action was going to be successful in forcing the federal government to provide adequate funding.

"We have been fighting it for 30 years and we have just been going backwards," he said. "It is a tough, tough deal."

Commissioners agreed to send a letter to Gov. Kenny Guinn asking him to reconsider his threatened lawsuit against the federal government over funding for wild horse gathers.

Guinn met with Interior Secretary Gale Norton in February. After the meeting, he rejected a recommendation by the state Wildlife Commission to sue the BLM for mismanagement of the state's 18,000 wild horses and burros, saying he was convinced Norton would take steps to thin Nevada's herds.

The Republican governor said Nevada receives only 14 percent of the federal wild horse budget but is home to more than half of the wild horses and burros that roam the West.

"The federal government has a responsibility to properly manage the resources on public lands in a manner that does not adversely impact its neighbors," Guinn wrote in a letter last fall to House and Senate appropriations subcommittees. "Effective management by the BLM requires adequate funding from Congress to do the job in Nevada."

Carpenter also suggested the county board support a short-term solution of seeing that $12 million in funding be reallocated as requested by BLM Elko District Director Helen Hankins.

Hankins said her office has no money to conduct any more wild horse roundups this year, adding that the request to reallocate funds for wild horses in Nevada has been fowarded to Assistant Interior Secretary Rebecca Watson.