Cross-posted from KOLO-TV, Channel 8, Reno
REPORTED BY KENDRA KOSTELECKY
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RENO, NV — After a report earlier this week of a 20-month-old kicked in the head by a wild horse near Damonte Ranch, the Nevada Department of Agriculture is reminding families to keep a safe distance. A KOLO 8 viewer shared cell phone video she captured of a young girl wandering through a herd of horses near Rattlesnake Mountain. As the video shows, the girl wanders into one animal’s blind spot, and is kicked. It was reported to authorities who did a welfare check and found the girl was not seriously injured. Still, it’s something horse advocates say they see too often.
“We don’t want to see anybody get hurt because of reckless behavior, either intentionally or unintentionally,” says Shannon Windel of Hidden Valley Horse Protection Fund. She says the horses are a gift to our community that families should enjoy together but from a safe distance.
In an act of misguided kindness some families will feed the estray and feral horses, but wildlife officials say that is a bad idea. They say foods that are unusual to their diets can give horses colic, which can be deadly. In addition the presence of food can cause a group of horses to become food-aggressive. An animal weighing nearly a ton can easily accidentally harm a person as it eagerly goes after something to eat.
In addition to being dangerous, it’s illegal. “To feed a feral or estray horse is considered a gross misdemeanor; it can lead to jail time and a fine of up to $2,500,” cautions Bob Conrad of the Nevada Department of Agriculture.
Citing two accidents earlier this week involving horses and vehicles, he says feeding the horses near populated areas creates a dangerous situation for people and the animals. He says his office is actively investigating reports of people seen disregarding the law and tempting the horses with treats. If you see anyone illegally feeding the horses, you are encouraged to call the Nevada Department of Agriculture’s horse hotline at (775) 353-3608.
If you’re interested in getting information about safe and legal guided horse tours, click on the link below.