(PUBLIC LAW 92-195)

“To require the protection, management, and control of wild free- roaming horses and burros on public lands. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.”

In 1971 the Wild Free-Roaming horses and Burros were a long way from disappearing at 27,000 head on our public lands.  Neither are they an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.   Horses are livestock, not wildlife, and need managed the same as cattle on our public lands.  When left unmanaged they cause the diversity of life on out public lands to decrease as is happening today.  Congress may find and declare all they want, but are unable to change nature.  The free-roaming horses may have needed a better management plan, but they didn’t need saved.

Velma Johnston, also known as Wild Horse Annie was a horsewoman who lived on “The Double Lazy Heart Ranch” along the Truckee River near Wadsworth Nevada.  She did not like the way mustangs were being treated in the area where she lived and decided they needed saved.  The result was The Wild Free-Roaming Horses & Burro Act of 1971.

As a young girl Wild Horse Annie watched her dad break mustangs to work and ride. She was raised around horses and mustangs and still didn’t have a clue about nature and horses in the Great Basin. She didn’t realize wild horses in the Great Basin would double their population every four years if it was left to nature. The WH & B Act of 1971 didn’t change nature, but did take the management of wild horses away from the ranchers and horse runners that were getting the job done and the wild horse population began doubling.   The WH & B Act fixed an imaginary problem by creating a real one!

Wild Horse Annie understood by 1975 that wild burros and horses needed managed and their population controlled. In 1975 Velma B. Johnson, Chairman-board of trustees for WHOA wrote Mr. Dave Cattoor a thank you for the way he handled wild horses while removing them from the range. At the same time, she blasted journalistic sensationalism by wild horse advocates.  She may have finally recognized wild horses need to be managed.[1] Unfortunately the realization came after the WH & B Act of 1971 had become law.

After 45 years of failure the Act needs repealed, changed or replaced.  Only Congress has the power to stop the damage to the range and end the suffering it causes our wild horses.  Write your legislators and let them know you want change.


Copyright © 2016-2019 Gerald Miller. All Rights Reserved.

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