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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: What the state does with the Virginia Range horses after they remove them from the range.


Situation Report

The historic Virginia Range horses are the horses that Velma "Wild Horse Annie" Johnston first fought to save and protect. These free-roaming horses of the region surrounding Virginia City, NV, and that inhabit the Comstock National Historic District fall under the management authority of the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDOA.)

There are laws on the books designed to facilitate the orderly management of these horses and these laws also provide a minimum level of protection for these horses, however the current administration of the NDOA has decided to throw the Nevada Revised Statutes out the window, which according to the Department, was done with the Governor Sandoval's "blessing."

Link: Laws Pertaining to the Ownership, Management and Disposition of Virginia Range Horses

The Nevada State Legislature had intended that horses removed from the range be placed with entities called "cooperators." These cooperators ranged from recognized non-profit groups to the inmate horse training program in Carson City. Cooperators also assisted in keeping horses off highways and out of residential neighborhoods when needed.

Under state law, the NDOA cannot sell horses unless the NDOA is unable to place them with cooperators. (NRS 569.075) To get around that law, the NDOA simply decided that it no longer had any cooperators. The NDOA may have discovered an end-run around the law but the department is certainly no longer compliant with legislative intent. Furthermore the NDOA does not comply with the advertising requirements under the law, but what importance is the law when you're a bureaucrat in the Sandoval administration?

Now when horses are picked up by the NDOA, they are first sent to the Department of Corrections where they are freezemarked and microchipped and the stallions gelded. Then they are shipped to Nevada Livestock Marketing in Fallon where horse advocates compete against slaughter buyers and the auction's owner himself to acquire the horses.

The advocates have been able to recover most of the Virginia Range horses. The ones that the slaughter buyers end up with go to Canada or Mexico where they are slaughtered for table meat.

The harsh reality is that the non-profit horse groups cannot continue to rescue horses at the rate that the NDOA is stripping them off the range. A more humane and coherent management strategy must be adopted!

What can you do?

  • Discourage unauthorized feeding that encourages free-roaming horses to encroach into residential areas and onto highways.

  • Contact state officials and demand an end to the state's sending horses to the livestock sale.

  • Contact state officials and demand that the NDOA reinstate authorized feeding in locations designed to keep horses away from developed areas and highways.

  • Contact state officials and demand that the NDOA be more responsive to the concerns of Nevada citizens and tourists, and that the department stop removing horses that have not been proven to be a hazard to the public or to properly fenced property.

Contact information.

  • Contact Governor Brian Sandoval
    775-684-5670 (Carson City office)
    702-486-2500 (Las Vegas office)
    eMail (web form)

    (Note: Don't let the Governor Sandoval's staff push you off to voice mail at the Nevada Department of Agriculture. Why would you want to talk to the department you are calling to complain about? You have the right to demand that the governor's office record your name, contact information and complaint. They may not want to hear from you but you have the right to be heard!)

  • Contact Agriculture Director Jim Barbee

  • Contact Assemblyman Tom Grady

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