Changes Ahead For Nevada Wild Horses

RENO, NV - It's easy to get pictures of wild horses near the DaMonte Ranch area south of Reno—especially earlier this year.

Just as easy, pictures of people feeding wild horses even from the back of their cars.

Such activity is illegal in Nevada, but now that Senate Bill 264 is law, those who feed Nevada's wild horse could face gross misdemeanor charges and fines.

That's a change from just months ago.

“We did have a law on the books that said, it was illegal to feed the horses but it only gave us the authority to issue a warning at that time and there was no follow-up,” says Ed Foster with Nevada's Department of Agriculture.

Foster says this is all in the name of public safety.

Last November a woman was nearly killed when she ran into wild horses on Old U.S 395 through Pleasant Valley.

The horses did not fair as well.

Many believed they found their way to the highway after some local residents took to feeding them in their neighborhoods.

“They run the risk of being hit by vehicles or picked up by the Department of Agriculture; either way they are gone,” says Shannon Windle from Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund..

Groups like Windle's begged the agriculture department to work with them to solve the problems of wild horses on the open range.

“The cooperation agreements before with the state and with the advocates were superior in every way,” says author Terri Farley.

Her comments came just weeks after the accident in Pleasant Valley.

Horse advocate groups packed a Nevada Agricultural Board meeting asking that the cooperative agreements be put back into place.

Beginning July 1st they will get their wish as the Department of Agriculture will ask these groups to put forth proposals on how they want to manage these herds--in good times and bad.

The department could work with one or more groups to cover nearly 300,000 acres of land, and at last count, close 3,000 horses.

The agreements could include birth control programs for Nevada's wild horses.

Presently Nevada's Department of Agriculture has no money for such a project.

It could be left up to advocacy groups to raise the funds which could run into the 100s of 1,000s of dollars.