This is Part Six in a series on the Virginia Range horses and the Nevada Department of Agriculture. To understand the context of this report, please start at Part One.
TO MUZZLE ADVOCATES
The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) has embarked on a new strategy aimed at suppressing criticism of its Virginia Range horse activities - claiming that the advocates are abandoning horses.
A complaint was leaked to KRNV Channel 4 just prior to the Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates' September 14 demonstration in Carson City. The charges are that Lacy J. Dalton, Shirley Allen and Willis Lamm dumped eight horses on the Virginia Range.
The issue appears to involve a band of eight horses that were purchased at a state sale by the Let 'Em Run Foundation and that were turned out with permission of the landowner on over 100,000 acres of private range. The allegations reportedly involve failure to provide food and water, abandonment and a brand violation. One of the horses, a pinto known as "Dickie," recently turned up in South Reno.
Link: Free Dickie.
Since neither of the three individuals have actually received any summons, they were advised not to comment until attorneys got to the bottom of this situation.
One person who would comment was Mike Holmes, a former Department of Agriculture employee who managed the Virginia Range herd for 9½ years. Holmes' position was eliminated due to the state's budget crisis and there has been nobody assigned to the position full time since then.
When asked about the food and water issue, Holmes replied, "You're kidding me. Right? That property is over a hundred thousand acres out there. The Department used to turn out horses out there. You think we would do that if there was no food or water?"
Link: TRI Horse Release.
Regarding the branding issue, Holmes explained that the Department provides individual animal identification before any horses are sold and that identification is supposed to be recorded in the name of the purchaser. People don't typically register brands for a handful of horses so the horses are provided with NAIS compliant RFID chips, also known as microchips. (NAIS stands for National Animal Identification System.)
A glance at NRS 569.080 supported Holmes' story.
(4) Estrays and feral livestock must be marked, branded or identified with an individual animal identification before sale or placement.
In response to the charges of abandonment, citizens have come forward to state that they regularly checked on the horses and they are reportedly compiling photo journals.
One puzzling aspect of this situation is Allen and Lamm being dragged into the case. Both Allen and Lamm regularly donate horse transportation for non-profit groups, BLM and even the Department of Agriculture. Neither are affiliated with the Let 'Em Run Foundation or have any financial or legal interest in the horses. They do often notify the department when moving horses as occurred in this situation. Occasionally the department responds with specific instructions.
Another puzzling aspect is how Dickie ended up in South Reno. According to Holmes, the department routinely microchipped horses that they relocated from urban areas to identify any horses that returned to human populated areas. Holmes said that in 9½ years of relocating horses, he had never seen a horse show up in Reno that was released on the range around USA Parkway. In Holmes' opinion, for Dickie to travel on his own to Reno was "highly unlikely."
Lamm chairs a town committee tasked with looking into the Virginia Range horse situation. Speculation is that these charges may have been an effort to dilute the impact of any committee report, as well as to provide a distraction from the horse advocates' September 14th demonstration.
Meanwhile south Reno residents report trailer loads of horses being removed by the department from the surrounding areas.
Tyranny - Absolute power, especially when exercised unjustly or cruelly.
Confronting tyranny does not come without personal risk.
Tyrants do not usually consider themselves as such as they are often absorbed in their own agendas.
If our Founding Fathers had not confronted tyranny at great personal risk, Americans would still be under a king. However they did confront tyranny and produced the greatest democracy on the planet.
Willis Lamm, 9th Great-grandson of John Alden.
Here are actions that you can take to protect the Virginia Range horses. Please remember that these horses fall under the jurisdiction of the Nevada Department of Agriculture and Governor Brian Sandoval. Here is contact information. You are encouraged to express your opinion in this matter. If you call, try to speak with someone in authority. Let's fix this business before more horses go to the kill buyers and we experience another tourism boycott!
- Governor Brian Sandoval
775-684-5670 (Carson City office)
702-486-2500 (Las Vegas office)
eMail (web form)
- Agriculture Director Jim Barbee
The Virginia Range horses are not protected by any federal statute. The involved wild horse groups are just about all that stands between them and the kill buyers. Funds are always needed to protect these horses and to find homes and sanctuary opportunities for those that have been taken off the range.
Every contribution counts. The groups are all staffed by volunteers so the money donated actually goes to pay the expenses for these horses. Please help!