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Video: New book explores life of "Wild Horse Annie"

March 26, 2010

Velma Bronn Johnston

The life of Velma Bronn Johnston, who led the campaign to bring in legal protections for America's wild horses, is the subject of a new book.

David Cruise and Alison Griffiths, authors of "Wild Horse Annie & The Last of the Mustangs", are also working on a movie based on the book.

The authors will be donating a portion of the proceeds to the ongoing campaign to preserve wild horses in North America.

Nevada-born Johnston, who died in 1977, became known as Wild Horse Annie because of her campaign to stop the removal of wild mustangs and burros from public lands.

She was instrumental in passing legislation to provide the animals with protection.

High profile wild horse campaigner Madeleine Pickens said: "Velma Johnston is one of the most important people in our American history.

"She single-handedly saved our mustangs and with that our western heritage. This is an important book and Cruise and Griffiths have done a spectacular job of bringing home her story."

Johnston became involved in the campaign to save the wild horses after driving to work in 1950.

While following a truck loaded with horses on its way to a slaughterhouse, she saw blood dripping from the back of the overcrowded truck.

This inspired her to do further investigation and bring it to the public's attention. She collected evidence and began speaking to ranchers, businessmen, politicians and in schools about the roundup methods and treatment of wild horses and burros.

In 1959, her campaign resulted in the federal legislature passing Public Law 86-234 which banned air and land vehicles from hunting and capturing wild horses on state land. This became known as the Wild Horse Annie act.

Johnston continued her campaign and in 1971, the 92nd United States Congress unanimously passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.

It was signed into law by the then President Richard Nixon on December 15, 1971. This act prohibited capture, injury, or disturbance of wild horses and burros and for their transfer to suitable areas when populations became too large.

Cruise and Griffiths have written seven books, including Fleecing the Lamb, Lords of the Line, Net Worth, On South Mountain, and The Great Adventure.

They spend summers on their small farm in southwestern Ontario and winters in Brooksville, Florida, with their horses.



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