Department of Agriculture

NV DoA Removes Steamboat horses

Freedom lost

Freedom lost

(RENO) Today the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NV DoA), without any notification to the residents in a primarily equestrian community, took a local band of wild horses in the Steamboat Valley area. Many local residents remain unaware the horses are gone.

A local resident that recently put a multimillion dollar property on the market for sale, trapped the horses on his pasture. He then assisted NV DoA by chasing the horses across the pasture and into a trap. This resident only recently put up a rope type gate (that is not always up) to keep horses out.

Loading adults and babies at the same time

Loading adults and babies at the same time

Many Americans confuse NV DoA horses with those managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). NV DoA  manages wild horses in a relatively small area under state jurisdiction. BLM manages wild horses on federal land under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Further confusion arises as NV DoA will house horses at the Carson Correctional Facility, a facility also utilized by BLM. There are major differences in what happens to NV DoA horses compared with those horses captured by the BLM.

BLM horses go into a federally funded “warehousing” system. BLM horses are branded and adopted out to the public, shipped to long term holding facilities or sold. There are issues with the BLM program but they are not the same issues faced by state horses.

Removing the trap

Removing the trap

A removal of horses from state land requires no environmental assessment, public comment period or public notification. All it takes is a resident to create complaints. No other requirement but a nod from NV DoA is needed to remove them.

NV DoA horses also have no adoption “option.” There appears to be a lot of confusion about the Legislation passed this year on an “agreement” with advocates. The legislation simply allows proposals to be submitted to NV DoA for management. The current “agreement” simply allows a designated rescue first option for purchasing horses during the 14 day “estray hold” (horses must be held 14 days for private horses to be claimed by an owner). If the designated rescue group cannot purchase, house and feed the horses, they would go to the Fallon livestock auction. That auction is heavily attended by “kill buyers.” The auction yard gained national attention this summer during the roundup of horses from the McDermitt Reservation when over 400 wild horses were sent to auction.

Panel being pushed toward horses forcing them onto trailer... and on their way to the prison

Panel being pushed toward horses forcing them onto trailer… and on their way to the prison and a very uncertain future

NV DoA picks up horses and then gives 14 days for the public to save them from almost certain death. All of this can simply be triggered by the complaint of a resident. This scenario plays out multiple times each year in Nevada.

I will probably be adopted but will my mom be slaughtered? (taken this Christmas eve)

I will probably be adopted but will my mom be slaughtered? (taken this Christmas eve of baby captured today)

Velma Johnston, better known as “Wild Horse Annie,” followed a truck filled with NV DoA horses to a rendering plant more than 50 years ago. Her work eventually helped create the federal Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act which fails to protect the very horses that inspired her work, NV DoA horses. These horses currently have no protection from slaughter.

Right now there is a Temporary Restraining Order against Valley Meat in New Mexico brought by that state’s attorney general’s office. A hearing set January 13th will determine if horse slaughter will once again resume on US soil. In the US horses are not a regulated agricultural product and they represent an unsafe food source due to drugs routinely used on American horses.

Taken with no warning...

Taken with no warning… today

Band peacefully grazing Christmas eve...

Band peacefully grazing Christmas eve…


Note: We happened to be out in the area with a camera out taking pictures of horses needing adoption. Currently Wild Horse Education has a small number of rescue horses. If we can raise the funding to meet our expenses we may be able to take in some of these horses taken today. If you can donate, or are willing to sponsor over time, we will do what we can.

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