Las Vegas Review-Journal
Proposed legislation would designate wild mustang as an official state symbol
Nevada has several official state animals, but a horse is not among them.
The Legislature may change that when it considers a bill to designate the wild mustang as the state equine.
“Wild mustangs are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the American West … Nevada is home to more than one-half of the wild mustang population in the United States of America … The wild mustang is a symbol associated with Nevada and has contributed to the history and culture of the State of Nevada,” reads Senate Bill 90 in its ode to Nevada’s free-roaming horses, which are unowned, unbranded descendants of long-ago escaped or abandoned domestic horses.
S.B. 90, sponsored by the Senate Natural Resources Committee, is scheduled to get its first hearing today.
The American Wild Horse Campaign proudly supports the designation. The group points out that only 12 states have state horse designations, including Vermont (with the Morgan horse) and Texas (with the American quarter horse).
The federal Wild Free-roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which gave mustangs nationwide protections similar to that of the American bald eagle, came about through the efforts of Velma Johnston, aka “Wild Horse Annie.” Johnston was a Reno native whose advocacy started with the mustangs on Northern Nevada’s Virginia Range.
“Nevada isn’t Nevada without its wild horses,” said Ronni Hannaman, executive director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. “These animals are an important part of our state’s history, culture and tourism and should be recognized as such.”
According to the section of state law that details Nevada’s state seal, motto and symbols, which has been added to through the years, Nevada has more than 20 state symbols. They range from the expected to the quirky – or both. The state bird is the mountain bluebird, its flower is the sagebrush blossom, and its mineral is silver; its insect is the vivid dancer damselfly, and its locomotive is the Northern Nevada Railway #40. The state element? Neon, of course.
The Senate Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to take up S.B. 90 at 3:30 p.m. today. Schoolchildren from Washoe County will visit the Capitol in Carson City for the hearing to drop off pictures they drew of wild horses.
Follow a livestream of the hearing at https://bit.ly/3iuundv or catch a livecast of the meeting at the Grant Sawyer Building, 555 E. Washington Ave. in Las Vegas.