The wet winter and spring have been good to Nevada’s wild horses--plenty to eat and water to drink. But now those resources are drying up and herds are heading down the Virginia Range Mountains to roadways—endangering both themselves and drivers.
The wild horses that run across Highway 50 near the 95 Alternate intersection seem almost oblivious to the highway causing several accidents that are hazardous to drivers.
“I see these guys all the time. They are always running around here. They are an absolute beautiful thing to see,” says driver, Marie Farabee.
Her daughter agrees and says drivers are to blame when a horse gets hit.
“You have crossing signs just like for kids and you should let them walk I guess,” says Kaitlin Wylie.
But something is going wrong on this stretch and other stretches of roadway where wild horses are making their way off the Virginia Range.
“Statistically in the last 90 days we have had documented horses that we know have been, that we've been called out on. And a large number of those had to be euthanized afterward because of their injuries,” says Ed Foster with the Nevada Department of Agriculture.
The situation has become so dire, Foster says the Nevada Highway Patrol has declared the horses a public safety hazard, and the Department of Agriculture is setting up traps to capture horses that are getting to close to highways.
“The gate is open. We put hay inside there. They go in. We close the gate. We bring a trailer over and we load them up and take them to Warm Springs Correctional Facility and go through the statutory process of advertising horses. And then we take them to the livestock auction yard,” says Foster.
Foster says those traps will go up almost immediately on private property.
The situation he says will be monitored on a day-to-day basis to see how many horses they capture and the rate of accidents that go down.
When that rate does go down the traps will come down.
The Department of Transportation has placed signs along key areas of the Virginia Range warning drivers about the wild horses.
Foster says about 40 percent of the accidents are occurring in the day, 60 percent at night.