Source: Associated Press
By: SCOTT SONNER
RENO, Nev. — The state of Nevada has signed a cooperative agreement with wild horse protection advocates allowing longtime critics of mustang roundups to have the first chance at purchasing state-captured animals that otherwise might end up at the slaughterhouse.
The agreement between Nevada’s Department of Agriculture and California-based Return to Freedom Inc. doesn’t affect the roundup of federally protected horses on mostly U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands in Nevada and much of the West. But it means that in at least three northern Nevada counties, the mustang’s allies won’t have to outbid slaughterhouse buyers at state-sponsored auctions, as they were forced to do this year when dozens of horses were offered for sale.
Instead, the group that serves as the parent organization for the national American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign will have two business days to pay $100 per horse for those the state gathers due to threats they pose on state roads and highways in the Virginia Range southeast of Reno, the municipality of Carson City and surrounding Washoe, Storey and Lyon Counties.
Members of the national coalition who have been pressing for such an agreement say it’s a significant development — the only one of its kind in the country.
The stray horses in the foothills between Reno and Virginia City aren’t federally protected because the BLM determined long ago there were no wild herds on federal land in that area when Congress passed the Free-Roaming Wild Horse and Bureau Act in 1971. Instead, these “feral” or “estray” horses are considered property of the state.
Nevada officials believe about 2,500 of the animals are on private and state lands near Virginia City. More than three dozen have been hit since summer on three rural highways in Lyon and Storey counties around Silver Springs and Virginia City.