The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

Working for better management options and cohabitation through compromise and communication for the American Wild Mustang

Nevada Horse Wars Starting Again???

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on October 8, 2011

PLEASE CROSS POST AND TAKE ACTION! This is an issue that is very serious, but more so is extremely important to ALL wild horse advocates across the world. The state of Nevada contains more wild horses than any other state in the Union. The decisions made in the Nevada State Legislation, with the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDoW), and with the Nevada Department of Agriculture NDoAg) set the precedent for the other states containing wild horses. We’ve seen this disturbing trend many times over. (See Nevada Passes SJR5… Why YOU Should Care & What YOU Can Do…).  For the back story to this issue, see the following links in chronological order:

KOLO posted a news story on the station’s web site showcasing the Nevada Department of Agriculture’s latest scheme to get rid of the Virginia Range horses is to have them declared a “safety hazard.”
Previously the department’s excuse for removing horses was that they were devastating the range.  “The range is devoid of forage,” was one infamous quote (lie) that the previous Director of Agriculture told the State Legislature.  Unfortunately for that lie, the Department of Wildlife looked at forage in the Virginia Range and determined that grass and plants look really good back in the hills.  (Listen toThe Last Wild Place, 1300 AM, 102.5 FM on October 16th at 10:00 AM in the Reno / Carson City / Douglas County region.)  NDoW representatives were interviewed regarding the reintroduction of bighorn sheep and the Department determined that there was plenty of forage for everyone.  BTW, this is an exciting project worth learning about.)
So now NDoA is claiming, “The wet winter and spring have been good to Nevada’s wild horses–plenty to eat and water to drink. But now those resources are drying up and herds are heading down the Virginia Range Mountains to roadways—endangering both themselves and drivers.”
Maybe NDoA should talk to real wildlife biologists before coming out with this stuff.
Horses are on the highways as a product of illegal feeding and incompetent management.  Illegal feeding is a historic problem and it tends to get worse when the Department of Ag. is perceived as not doing anything constructive with the herd.  Incompetent management runs the spectrum with this Department.  The most glaring example involves the Department’s flat refusal to let the non-profits control the movement of the horses through agreements with those groups, a strategy that was successful for years.  The non-profits raised their own funds so these control activities came at no expense to the taxpayers, which also speaks to the pure BS coming out of NDoA when they claim they can’t do anything because they don’t have the funds.
I live on the wild horse range and work on horse issues on a regular basis.  Stepping back and taking an objective view I have to say that there are an awful lot of horses on the Virginia Range, however this population has not created the devastation that the Department has gone around screaming about, and the horses on the highway problem is one directly caused by a Department that is clueless about what it is doing yet refuses to learn, even from its former and current experienced horse people.
It seems that if your solution doesn’t match what some rural rancher subscribes to who is on the Board of Agriculture, it’s ignored – even if it historically solved the problem.

So here’s where this whole business is going to get nasty:
Previously the Department misled the public when discussing picking up horses.  They would discuss the trapping process and that the horses would go to the prison horse facility to be health checked, microchipped, etc.  But they left out the part about the horses then going to the livestock sale where the kill buyers bid on them.  (In 2003 the State Legislature, at the urging of then Acting Director of Agriculture Don Henderson, changed the law to allow the Department to place horses with cooperating non-profits due specifically to warnings about what would happen if the horses went to the sale yard.  This procedure, written in the law, is categorically ignored by NDoA.)
I will give my old nemesis Ed Foster credit for disclosing the part about the sale yard in his interview with KOLO News.  Thanks for giving us the straight story on that aspect of this issue.
So the Department is once again gearing up the horse disposal machine for Velma (Wild Horse Annie) Johnston’s herd.  Never mind that Storey County Commissioner Bill Sjovangen warned that the horses were important to his county’s tourism (the county’s largest source of income) and its’ tourism “brand.”  Don’t let real issues slow down the horse removal machine.
The sad reality is that the current administration of the Nevada Department of Agriculture won’t listen, or even follow the law, unless you go after them with a spiked club.  Given that they have had plenty of opportunity to learn and have refused, the only logical solution is to go over the Director’s head to the Governor and force this issue to come to the table.
Meanwhile, as Don Henderson warned, agencies that the Department historically relied on to assist (e.g., BLM, Nevada Dept. of Corrections inmate horse crew) have warned that they won’t be involved in any activities that result in horses going to the kill buyers.  They have their own reputations to protect.  I for one would hope that the Governor looks at the implications that negative horse issues have on tourism and jerks this matter straight.
Here are some people you can contact if you have concerns / opinions about this matter:

***Director of Agriculture Jim Barbee    775-353-3613
***Governor Brian Sandoval  (Contact information page)

The time to act is before this train leaves the station.

Thanks for caring.


For those new to TMP to understand a little more about the gravity of this situation and the trust we place in the reporter of this news: Willis Lamm is the Communications Officer for the Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates (AOWHA). He is also a very dear friend of ours. Willis works more than 95% of the year – day in and day out, night in and many nights out – to help the Virginia Range Wild Horses and their many brothers and sisters across the Western United States. Least Resistance Training Concepts and the Wild Horse Mentors are just two of Willis’ projects. (See LRTC Wild Horse Mentors ) Along with a host of advocates in the Stagecoach, Nevada area, Willis and his wife Sharon also work diligently to help the orphaned foals on and off of the range. (See P-Nut Update and Another Horse in the House!!!).

6 Responses to “Nevada Horse Wars Starting Again???”

  1. Linda Horn said

    Thanks, T! And Willis, you’re breathing fire, and rightly so! I don’t know whether these “road apple” politicos will pay attention to an old gal living in New Mexico, but I can certainly give it a shot.

  2. Dawn said

    I cannot believe the incompetent people that are involved with our wild horses. I will share and share this. We need to get this out in the public and let everyone possible know what is going on!

  3. Diana said

    There are currently THOUSANDS of mustangs in holding pens in Fallon, NV being fed and taken care of with our tax dollars. Many of these horses die daily due to crowded pens and being exposed to disease that they haven’t an immunity for from other bands of horses being mixed together.

    Last year the BLM said the horses needed to be gathered because of the dry year and lack of forage. We had a very wet winter and this year the forage is plenty. That is Mother Nature’s way of herd management. If there is not enough feed, the weak will die. The strong survive to carry on…

  4. Michelle said

    This makes me sick..
    I truly don’t know that much about it, only from what I’ve read and from what my frinds and family have shared with me, but I want to help! If there is anything I can do please let me know.

    • Michelle,
      Thanks so much for stopping by. The best thing we can do is to keep spreading the word and let every last politician know that we are fed up with “legal” horse abuse. Nevada is one of the worst when it comes to this. Let them know that you don’t approve. Let your own representatives know that you don’t approve. Educate yourself and educate others.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: