as a weekly practice I listen to npr and do a little sketch on one of the stories. take a look, you can click on the illustration to make it bigger!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wild Horses May Face Death Sentence.

With the price of hay up and horse adoptions down, a federal agency may begin killing wild horses to deal with surplus numbers. Letting evolution take its course doesn't cut it these days, the Bureau of Land Management says, prompting wild horse advocates to rally around this symbol of the old West. On a recent afternoon, a group of journalists and BLM officials gather in a mountain-framed valley about 100 miles north of Reno, Nev. Someone whispers, "here they come" and over a mile a way a small plume of dust can be seen against sage-covered mountains, followed by flashing helicopter blades.

Soon dark dots emerge in the valley, then flowing manes and tails, as the chopper pilot herds the horses into a funnel-shaped trap. A wrangler releases a so-called "Judas horse," who has been trained to lead the wild ones into the final approach to the trap. The captives mill about, wild-eyed and confused. They look sleek and fit. Suddenly there's a "whack" — as a mama rears up and protects her foal with a double-hoofed kick to an encroaching mare. It's one of the ways the new social order is solidified.

The federal agency is responsible for managing about 250 million acres of public lands throughout the West. "Protecting, managing and controlling wild horses" falls under these responsibilities, and every year the organization captures about 10-12,000 horses, about half of them in Nevada alone. Not enough, according to ranchers; too many, according to animal rights activists.

-excerpt from npr

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