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Free range

WHEN we were young, reading in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Public Library in our old Midwest neighborhood, we could only imagine the wild horse herds of the American West. Titles like ``Green Grass of Wyoming'' come back to us. Remnants of those wild horse herds persist today. The government, and many ranchers, find them a burden. Roundups in 10 states have led to ``adoption'' of 70,000 wild horses. Many find their way to slaughterhouses. Of 44,000 horses now loose on the range, the government would like to round up all but 30,000.

The old West may well be more remembrance than fact. Of the millions of acres of range land, surely there must be space for America's horse herds. An aggressive program for ``adopting'' captured wild horses is proposed. Fine. But a reasonable number of such creatures should be allowed permanently to range free.

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