Nevada Agricultural Authorities to Reduce Stray Herd

The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) will remove up to 100 horses from a private range in Northern Nevada to prevent them from being killed when they wander onto nearby highways.

Ed Foster, NDA spokesman, said approximately 2,000 horses reside on the Virginia Range, a private rangeland surrounded by four major highways. The animals are so-called "strays" descended from domestic horses turned out onto the range by their owners, Foster said, and the NDA is tasked with managing the animals.

Foster said 34 animals have been involved in collisions with motorists in the past several weeks. Approximately two-thirds of those died at or close to impact. The other third were euthanized at the scene, Foster said. The roundup is intended to prevent the possibility of more collisions.

"We consider this a public safety issue," Foster said.

Foster said the NDA will begin removing the animals from the range later this month. Exactly how many horses will be relocated from the range is uncertain he said, but as many as 100 animals might be involved in the relocation.

"We'll monitor the collection numbers and equine/vehicular interaction to determine how long the collection will last," Foster said.

Foster said the removed animals will be relocated to the Warm Springs Correctional Facility, and the Department will place advertisements to locate former owners interested in reclaiming their animals. Unclaimed animals will be sold at auction, Foster said.

Willis Lamm of the Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates, an equine welfare advocacy group, said the need to remove the animals is directly connected to the Department's 2008 decision to cancel herd management contracts with nonprofit organizations.

"The advocates warned that by following such a direction the Department would experience a number of problems with the herd, including horses encroaching into residential areas and onto highways, creating nuisance problems and traffic hazards," Lamm said.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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