Nevada allocates aid for feral horses near Virginia City
Nevada is allocating $59,000 to round up and feed about 100 feral horses roaming private and state land near Virginia City.
The state Board of Examiners on Tuesday approved an emergency expenditure to cover the $4.60-per-day cost of buying hay, along with a $1.80-per-day average veterinarian bill.
Gov. Jim Gibbons said he was concerned about the expenditure, but said the state is responsible for stray horses on private or state land. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management oversees wild horses on federal lands.
However, Gibbons, chairman of the Board of Examiners, said private landowners who want the horses on their land should bear some of the costs.
Officials said the horses rounded up with state money will be moved to a corral near the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City, and cared for at least until the end of March. The prison runs a horse training and adoption program.
"A lot of horses have come down from the mountains to subdivisions because there is nothing left for them to eat," said Anette Rink, state Department of Agriculture laboratory director.
Officials said the horses have drawn complaints for destroying private yards and landscaping, and have caused traffic problems on U.S. Highway 50 near Dayton and on Geiger Grade between Virginia City and Reno.
Rink said forage should be available in the mountains by spring, when the horses will be returned to the Virginia Range. Officials say about 1,200 horses live in the mountains.
The Virginia Range Wildlife Protective Association has provided hay for feral horses in past winters, believing that feeding the animals reduced the need for them to migrate into populated valleys to forage for food after heavy snowfall.
But officials say they found that horses were not learning natural winter survival skills.