Wild horse advocates file suit to prevent slaughter

Published: Mar. 12, 2018 at 6:28 PM PDT
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Drone footage shows the early stages of development in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center. As time has gone on, major factories and companies have moved into the industrial park.

Developer Lance Gilman says there are plenty of things that attract businesses, not the least of which, “Their infatuation with those horse herds,” says Gilman

The Virginia Range horses travel to the industrial park, south to Silver Springs and west to Washoe Lake and the DaMonte Ranch area.

Those are the horses to which he is referring.

Recently Nevada's Agriculture Board nearly unanimously voted to hand the herd over to a yet-to-be-determined non-profit organization.

The move occurred after the Nevada Department of Agriculture broke its agreement with American Wild Horse Campaign, which the department says was not living up to its part in managing the horses and preventing accidents often caused by horses in the roadway

“The whole scheme to give away the horses through a request for proposals is illegal under Nevada Statutes. There are very specific requirements for the placement or sale of feral livestock,” says Suzanne Roy, executive director of the AWHC.

The specifics of handing the horses over to a private party are a logistical nightmare. Besides taking on the liability of accidents involving the horses, the horses would each have to be individually branded,

The private entity must also establish that each and every one of these horses is a state's horse, not federal. And they might get tripped up if a privately-owned horse is tied into a herd.

“So they can't give these horses away to someone else. That's my horse,” says Cynthia Asag.

Asag say her horse CC got out and is on the range with a wild horse band. While she is making every effort to get her horse back, she says the mare could be sold to slaughter under the awarded agreement, even though the horse belongs to her. That's why she's put her name on the lawsuit.

Monday, Gilman handed over a $10,000 check to Roy for the legal fees.

He says he hopes it doesn't come to a lawsuit and that the state realizes the horses are not a nuisance, but rather a valuable commodity.

The Agriculture Department won’t say what group if any has responded to its request for proposal concerning the Virginia Range Horses. But they say they will disclose that information at a public hearing in April.

What happens after that—who makes the decision, what conditions are part of the agreement, and what that agreement looks like, will be done behind closed doors.