Would we want our children or grandchildren to see how America's horses are treated by our public agencies?
Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates
ADVOCATES RESCUE THE
The conduct of the Nevada Department of Agriculture is making a great deal of people angry. Their failure to delegate management of the horses has produced unnecessary conflict in residential neighborhoods. Some residents are angry over horses grazing on their lawns. Others are angry over horse removals since they moved into the area to view horses ranging on nearby hillsides. The non-profits are no longer permitted to mitigate these matters so these problems, and public anger, simply get worse.
The Sandoval Administration surely must be aware that some of the major national horse and animal groups are entering this battle. These are the same groups who helped defeat the otherwise "sure bet" incumbents Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) and Congressman Richard Pombo (R-CA.) Horse issues weren't the only factors in the outcomes of these elections, but they provided the "tipping points" that allowed some comparatively unknown challengers get elected. Governor Sandoval has been a rising political star who some political pundits say could some day be America's first Hispanic president. The Virginia Range situation leaves people to wonder why the Governor would allow such controversial handling over a herd of horses and egregious conduct by one of his directors potentially damage his career.
Since the days of Tony Lesperance the Nevada Department of Agriculture has been trying to deal Virginia Range horses to the kill buyers. When criticism builds, the department comes out blaming their policy shifts on the advocates and non-profit groups. When KTVN News reporter Brooke Boone asked Director Barbee why the department doesn't work with the cooperators, Barbee made an allegation that the groups were dumping horses back onto the range.
The alleged "dumping" involved eight Virginia Range horses that were picked up in Mound House. The local citizens wanted the horses to remain together if possible. Permission was given for the Let 'Em Run foundation to place these horses on 100,000 acres of private range where they could finish out their lives as they always lived them. The horses were put out in the same location that the state previously released 55 of the state's horses.
Link: TRI Horse Release
The only significant difference in the two releases was that the state's horses were dropped off and to our knowledge never checked on, while the horses "abandoned" by Let 'Em Run were checked on regularly and a photo journal kept.
When it benefited the state, the location was fine. When the advocates followed suit - with permission of the landowner - the department claimed that they were abandoned. It's how things work in Nevada.
Sometimes you can learn more about what may be really going on when the opposition gets defensive. For some reason the Department of Agriculture felt the need to put out an official media advisory denying that any horses had been stolen off the range.
This media advisory might have been in response to some speculation surrounding "Dickie," the supposedly abandoned and neglected pinto that mysteriously disappeared from TRIC approximate to the date of the advisory. Dickie reappeared some time later in south Reno. The only comments we are aware of that were made came later and involved the relatively good condition that the horse appeared to be in when discovered, and remarks made by a former department staffer who said that in 9½ years of keeping track of the Virginia Range horses, he had never seen a horse travel from TRIC to south Reno and that he felt it was highly unlikely for that to happen "without help."
The media advisory does state "illegally capture state horses." To be fair, this advisory could be referring to something completely different. On the other hand the words chosen could have been intended to create misdirection. Dickie wasn't a state horse. He was owned by the Let 'Em Run Foundation.
If this vague media advisory in fact does refer to Dickie, the department's need to claim that no horse "thefts" took place might reveal a new aspect of this issue that warrants further investigation.
When a state agency intentionally engages in provocative conduct people take notice. Given the capabilities of modern social media, hundreds of thousands of people take notice. When people reach a certain level of frustration and anger, they can and do adjust their purchasing choices.
Advocates have been receiving phone calls and messages from people who say that they plan to avoid travel to Nevada. A common theme from California is, "we now have casinos too." Advocates have been quick to ask these people to convey their opinions to the governor to see if this matter can be resolved before they take punitive action against Nevada. Those who have attempted to call the Governor and have reported back on their experiences have said that they weren't allowed speak to anyone in the governor's office, but are transferred to a Plant Industry Division employee at the Department of Agriculture.
A number of advocates renewed calls for concerned citizens to contact Governor Sandoval's office, insist on speaking to someone in authority, and complain about the conduct of the Nevada Department of Agriculture. His telephone number is 775-684-5670. Once again the advocates have worked together to protect Nevada's Virginia Range horses, and in doing so protect Nevada's image to the world. It is feared that when any Virginia Range horses are traced to a foreign slaughterhouse that public reaction could affect Nevada's tourism revenues. Horse lovers have flexed their "wallet muscles" before. Our struggling state doesn't need a repeat demonstration where our horses end up on dinner plates and the American public takes it out on Nevada's struggling economy.
|WHAT YOU CAN DO!|
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!
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!
WILD HORSE DEFENSE FUND
(PayPal donation button)FUND FOR LEGAL EXPENSES
(To protect horses from illegal actions)
VIRGINIA RANGE ROUND-UP FUND
(PayPal donation button)VIRGINIA RANGE HORSE RESCUES
(To keep horses from kill buyers)