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Would we want our children or grandchildren to see how America's horses are treated by our public agencies?

Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates'



Issue: Governor Gibbons' Deputy Chief of Staff Killing Wild Horses.

Date: September 20, 2010

Priority: CRITICAL

Situation Report Summary

For the past two weeks residents of the community of Moundhouse have been puzzling over why Virginia Range horses that typically roamed the hills between the town and Virginia City have been crossing busy US-50 to get to the south side of the highway. After a horse was hit and killed in a road accident, the investigation intensified.

Deputy Chief of Staff
Lynn Hettrick
What advocates discovered were about two acres of unfenced and weedy and alfalfa that was being watered just a few hundred yards inside the Carson City limits. The ground was uneven and rocky, clearly unsuitable for commercial harvesting.

What the advocates also discovered was that the property that locals have now dubbed as the "Drako Feeding Facility," for its location on Drako Rd., was owned by noneother than Governor Gibbon's Chief Deputy for Agriculture, Lynn Hettrick.

Hettrick, who of all people should understand fencing regulations and issues involving unfenced alfalfa and its attraction to range horses and cattle, apparently decided to put on a demonstration of Nevada's most inept alfalfa farm.

Example of weeds and brush found on this "agricultural" operation.
Many of us live in agricultural areas and this plot of land looks to be little more than someone's attempt to throw out some alfalfa seeds on ungraded and unprepared soil, apply some water, and call it a legitimate agricultural activity. Ordinarily what someone does on his/her own property is not public business, however this situation is an exception.

In checking with Carson City Code Enforcement, the state's fence-out laws apply within the city limits. (Carson City is a combined city-county government.) Virginia Range horses, BLM wild horses, range cattle and mule deer roam within the city limits so anyone engaged in any activities where they don't want such animals intruding is required to construct a legal fence.

This situation gets worse.

Through ignoring laws and standard practices the Governor's Deputy Chief of Staff has constructed an attractive nuisance for horses, causing them to regularly cross the highway. Apparently his solution is to use his influence, have the Nevada Department of Transportation put out flashing signs to warn motorists of horses on the highway and have the Nevada Department of Agriculture trap the horses and ship them to the Fallon Livestock Exchange (kill buyer's sale.)

State law proscribes that Virginia Range horses are to be made available to non-profit adoption cooperators, then turned over to the sale yard for disposal if they are not claimed. While the actual statute is not specific in the order in which these two options are to be exercised, simple logic and the State Archives show legislative intent to be clear on this matter. However the Gibbons administration writes its own rules and as of this posting, intends to send these horses directly to the sale.

What you can do.

  • Contact Governor Gibbons. It's his chief deputy who is involved.

  • Contact Lynn Hettrick. What is he doing and how does he get special treatment?

  • Contact Tony Lesperance. He is the person who decides where the horses will go.

This strange "farming" operation has likely guaranteed that these horses will be removed from the range. What concerned parties can do is to keep them from going to the sale, and prevent a repeat of such careless enterprises in the future.

October Update

Five Virginia Range horses have been illegally sent to the Fallon Livestock Exchange. The Nevada Department of Agriculture picked up the horses and then failed to publish legally required estray notices and legally required sale notices, and the Department put the horses up for sale without branding them as required by law. (NRS 569.070, 569.075, 569.080)

Once again people associated with the Gibbons Administration appear to be exempt from the same rules that the rest of us are expected to follow, the public has been put at risk, and the taxpayers will once again clean up the mess. In this instance it is likely that these horses that are fondly regarded by local residents will also pay the price with their lives.

Footnote: If this bizarre enterprise isn't some kind of scam designed to mislead the Department of Water Resources (so Hettrick can hoard unused water rights,) but is instead a demonstration of the competence of Governor Gibbons' Deputy Chief of Staff, no wonder this state is in the toilet.

Photo credits go to H. Bonnie Matton.

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