SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) - The Nevada Department of Agriculture has announced the withdrawal of its request for proposals (RFP) for the transfer of ownership of 2,951 feral/estray horses on the Virginia Range. This comes after no proposals were received by the RFP deadline of April 16, 2018.
The Ag Department says the intent of the RFP was to select an owner who would work to maintain the horse population on the range and facilitate necessary horse adoptions.
According to a release, "No proposals were received by the deadline, therefore no contract effecting a transfer could be completed. Pursuant to Nevada Administrative Code 333.170(3)(b)(2), the request for proposals was withdrawn."
“We are still under an existing directive from the Board of Agriculture to manage the horses for public safety only,” NDA Director Jim Barbee says. “The next step is to go back to the Board for further direction, and we will continue to manage the Virginia Range feral/estray horses for public safety.”
After the announcement by the NV Ag Department, local horse advocates announced they want to meet with Barbee:
"Today, local wild horse organizations have requested to immediately meet with Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Jim Barbee to create a path forward to resume the public-private partnership created to humanely manage the Virginia Range wild horses. Wild Horse Connection (Reno), Virginia Range Wildlife Protection Association (Virginia City Highlands) and the Wild Horse Preservation League (Dayton) requested the meeting take place at the earliest possible time in order to address immediate public safety issues and to resume humane management, including the successful birth control program.
"On October 25, 2017, the NDA, under Governor Sandoval’s authority, abruptly terminated the humane management public-private partnership, known as the Cooperative Agreement, that included the successful birth control program that helped curbed population growth by 27% in the first year of results.
“'Governor Sandoval allowed the NDA to terminate the world’s largest, successful birth control program for wild horses late last year,” said Louise Martin, spokesperson for Reno-based Wild Horse Connection. “We need to get that birth control program back on track, along with the humane on-the-range management. The Governor and Director Barbee need to come back to the table and make this happen for the people of northern Nevada and the horses.”'
"Local Nevadans have held weekly protests, over the past 24 weeks, in front of Governor Brian Sandoval’s office to show the grassroots support for resuming the Cooperative Agreement. Additionally, thousands of Nevadans have sent in and given public comments opposing the Governor’s cancellation of the Cooperative Agreement that involved local wild horse advocacy organizations and hundreds of Nevadans who dedicated time and resources to protect the horses and public safety.
"Humane management under the Cooperative Agreement enabled local citizens to work to improve public safety by implementing diversionary feeding to keep horses away from roadways and neighborhoods, humane birth control was used to reduce the number of horses on the range and horses removed from the wild were rescued.
"The horses’ habitat in the Virginia Range is decreasing in size due to human encroachment. Due to the shrinking habitat available to the horses, coupled with the termination of the birth control program, it is expected that there will likely be an increase of vehicle-horse accidents and more horses will be rounded up and removed from the range.
"To date, the Governor and his administration refuse to meet with local residents or bring stakeholders to the negotiation table to re-instate a Cooperative Agreement that would resume the humane management of the cherished Virginia Range wild horses.
"The humane management Cooperative Agreement lead by the American Wild Horse Campaigned was implemented by local organizations including Wild Horse Connection, Virginia Range Wildlife Protection Association and Wild Horse Preservation League.
"Over the past four years, local organizations with the help of American Wild Horse Campaign, have rescued approximately 250 Virginia Range horses, preventing nearly 150 births in 2017 and an estimated 200 pregnancies in 2018. The number of horses removed from the range since the Cooperative Agreements have been in effect have reduced year after year - with more than 116 horses removed in 2014; 44 horses removed in 2015; 35 horses in 2016 and even fewer this year."