KAREN WOODMANSEE, Nevada Appeal Staff Writer filed this report:
- Thirty-seven of 55 wild horses rounded up in the Virginia Range are now grazing in a new home – the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center.
The horses had been kept at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center after being rounded up in Virginia City, Mound House, Dayton and the Virginia City Highlands, but the state could no longer afford to feed them.
Wild horse advocates and state Department of Agriculture program manager Mike Holmes came up with a plan that would allow the horses to remain free, while they would be given birth control and the range conditions monitored.
Country singer Lacy J. Dalton, founder of the Let ’em Run Foundation, contacted Lance Gilman, exclusive broker for TRI and developer Roger Norman, and urged them to try to save the horses.
Gilman offered to buy them and set them free to live in the massive 104,000-acre TRIC, but the state decided to just turn over the animals without charge.
“What Lance and Roger are doing is a marvelous humane act,” said Dalton, who was on hand to see the horses released. “These horses most certainly would have wound up in a slaughterhouse and now they can run free in the vast expanse of this industrial development and join the other wild horses that call TRI their home.”
As the horses were loaded into trailers, each family band was kept together. There was an old gray stallion and some pintos from Stagecoach; a group of bays from Virginia City; another band from Mound House; and one from the outskirts of Reno.
Before the release, Dr. David Thain from the University of Nevada, Reno treated the mares with temporary birth control that should last about two years, and gave the animals a clean bill of health.
Willis Lamm, of the Least Resistance Training Concepts advocacy group, said the horses were rounded up because they had come into conflict with an expanding human population and would now get to live on a portion of the range where there still was room for them.
Other groups involved in the plan and release were members of the Virginia Range Wildlife Protection Agency, Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue and Wild Horses in Need.
The horses released were yearlings and adults, horses that had grown up on the range and that had developed appropriate survival skills. LRTC volunteers agreed to take several weanlings that had spent most or all of their lives in the holding corrals. The young horses are now available for adoption in Dayton.
The volume of horses being trapped and brought into the state corrals have been a concern to the volunteers.
“It’s frustrating,” said Jeanne Gribbin, president of VRWPA. “People think it’s a kind thing to feed the wild horses but they just turn wild horses into horse-puppies. Once they have been taught to show up for handouts, it’s hard to keep them out of the neighborhoods.”
Lamm said suburban planning also was a problem.
“An unfenced California-style development in the horse range that surrounds the only available water and has wide boulevards with grass medians and shoulders is going to attract horses and other wildlife,” he said.
Eighteen more horses will be released sometime this week in a more southern area of the industrial park.
A second group of wild horses is released onto the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center in Storey County. The horses are kept together in family groups, with herds being released at different times.
PHOTO: Sharon Lamm/Special to the Nevada Appeal