Wild Horse Annie
how did wild horse annie become INVOLVED?
During the 1950s she became aware of the ruthless way wild horses were being rounded up. She saw a slaughter truck filled with bloodied wild horses while driving to work one day. She followed the truck and was astounded and horrified by what she saw.
At the time men -- some locals, but many strangers -- held power over the range and its resources. Government, miners and cattle ranchers supported the “harvest” of wild horses. Velma recognized she was at a disadvantage, saying, “A woman fighting a man’s battle in a man’s world…has three strikes against her to begin with.”
She started investigating the cruel reality wild horses were forced to endure. She brought these injustices to the attention of the public by starting a huge grassroots letter writing campaign, involving mostly school children. Upon learning what was happening to these American icons, the public became enraged. According to a July 15,1959, Associated Press article, "Seldom has an issue touched such a responsive chord."
In January 1959, Nevada Congressman Walter Baring introduced a bill prohibiting the use of motorized vehicles to hunt wild horses and burros on all public lands. The House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill which became known as the "Wild Horse Annie Act." The bill became Public Law 86-234 on Sept. 8, 1959.
It did not include Annie's recommendation that Congress initiate a program to protect, manage and control wild horses and burros.
Public interest and concern continued to mount, and with it came the realization that federal management, and protection,of wild horses and burros was essential. This resulted in the enactment of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act.
These bills placed the protection of wild horses and burros on federal lands under the Jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the United States Forest Service (USFS). It said the horses were to be managed where they were found. It also said the federal agencies were to maintain a thriving natural ecological balance. It also created the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board.
Unfortunately this law has been weakened over the years. The ultimate way to stop the roundups is going to be political. The American people must convince congress to force the BLM to change its management practices.
You can see Wild Horse Annie’s grave in Mountain View Cemetery, in Reno, NV.