(WILD HORSES) — Benjamin Spillman, reporting for the Reno Gazette Journalwrites:
Nearly 3,000 free-range horses in Nevada’s Virginia Range could be under new ownership by the end of May, according to state officials.
The Nevada Department of Agriculture on Tuesday published a request for proposals for people willing to take ownership of the iconic herd.
Opponents of the proposed giveaway say it “spells disaster” for the herd, which many consider symbolic of Nevada’s western culture.
The proposal is the result of a breakdown between the Nevada Department of Agriculture and the American Wild Horse Campaign, the non-profit organization once had an agreement to manage the horses on behalf of the state.
“The NDA set the stage to destroy the Virginia Range horses by canceling the community-based cooperative agreements for humane management,” Deniz Bolbol, spokesperson for the campaign said in a written statement. “That’s unconscionable and we will not allow it to stand.”
Protestors gathered Wednesday, January 3, 2018 in Carson City to call on Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval to undo a decision by the Department of Agriculture to offer approximately 3,000 free range horses to a private group.
RENO, NEVADA (October 17, 2013) — After a day-long trial in the historic Storey County Court House, Judge Steve McMorris acquitted the Let ‘Em Run Foundation and horse advocates Willis Lamm and Shirley Allen on all charges brought about by the Nevada Department of Agriculture.
Director of Agriculture Jim Barbee had alleged that the defendants had dumped eight former Virginia Range horses onto the open range without rebranding the horses, that they had abandoned them and that they had let them starve. Barbee then widely spread those allegations in the press and throughout the State Legislature.
The defendants argued that the horses had been placed on the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, which was private land, with the permission of the Managing Partner, Lance Gilman.
In court, one of the department’s own witnesses described the industrial center as over 100,000 acres of private property with a fence that was “built strong enough to keep Arabs out.” It was acknowledged that anyone’s fences could be vandalized but that as a legal matter, the defendants position was ruled as correct in that the property was properly enclosed.
Another of the state’s witnesses, who acknowledged in court that he had memory problems when he drank too much, had claimed that he found a horse that had belonged to Let ‘Em Run that had starved to death. His claims were soundly rebutted by veterinarian Gerald Peck who analyzed photographs of the horse and explained why the horse could not have starved to death. Judge McMorris commented when looking at the photo of another horse provided by the Department that the horse in that photo “looked fat.”
Department Brand Inspector Blaine Northrup admitted under cross examination that he had no factual basis for the allegations of abandonment or failure to provide necessary food or drink, and also that he had not even been out to the industrial center property. He eventually admitted that he got most of the details that he put in his investigative report off a web site on the Internet.
Two witnesses described abusive behavior that they suffered at the hands of Director Jim Barbee in an encounter with him on a public street in Reno.
When questioned, defendant Lamm described an instance when State Veterinarian Phil LaRussa ordered then department employee Mike Holmes to take an orphan foal and “pop it in the head and put it in the landfill.”
That event followed an encounter between LaRussa and defendant Shirley Allen wherein LaRussa warned that he would kill orphan foals if Allen and Lamm didn’t do certain favors for the Director. Both events had been recorded and posted on YouTube, drawing the ire of the department.
For many years Allen has cared for orphan foals for various agencies and other horse groups.
Lamm was also questioned about a complaint that he filed with the Nevada Attorney General that described an event where Northrup participated in the secret delivery of Virginia Range horses to kill buyer Kevin D. “Ole” Olsen of Elko, Nevada. At the time of the complaint, the delivery was corroborated by then Brand Inspector Darryl Peterson. The Attorney General declined to pursue the incident when records that documented the event appeared to have gone missing.
The defendants have historically hounded the Nevada Department of Agriculture, an agency that they characterize as being dishonest and holding itself above the law.
Their present position is that the department’s prosecution constituted a form of reprisal that most likely violated Federal law.
The acquitted defendants are discussing their options with their legal counsel in hopes of preventing the continuance of the department’s bad conduct.
When Judge McMorris announced the verdicts a courtroom full of supporters celebrated the victory.
Then all went home to feed their animals.
The advocates were defended by Allison Joffee and Robert Hager.
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.
RENO, Nevada (September 20, 2012) –- Virginia Range Wild Horses at peace.[/caption]Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund spearheaded and SAVED 23 Virginia Range wild horses from going to the kill-buyers last night. The herculean effort was lead by Shannon Windle, president of Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund. Country singer, Lacy Dalton’s group Let ‘Em Run Foundation also raised funds for the rescue.
Last night many wild horse advocates and groups from the greater Reno area joined forces to help with transportation and foster care to make this rescue effort a success. The list includes the Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund, Let ‘Em Run Foundation, Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates, Horse Power, The Starlight Sanctuary and more to be listed soon.
Protect Mustangs joined in to help with outreach, raise awareness about the issue and contact Nevada’s Governor Brian Sandoval to stop the sale.
Donors contributed from across the USA and abroad to save Nevada’s indigenous wild horses from being sold to kill-buyers who sell the horses to slaughter plants.
A staff member of the auction house was bidding as well as a kill-buyer against the wild horse advocates. Is this legal for the house to drive up the bids?
During the auction, a thin Virginia Range wild horse mare sold for over $500. while a stocky domestic buckskin sold for $200. A wild mare and foal sold for $1000 which is grossly abnormal at a livestock auction frequented by kill-buyers.
Advocates paid more than $11K to save the horses–more than three times above market value.
31 additional wild horses will arrive at the auction house next week. More than 60 wild horses have been rounded up and face a horrific end if more foster homes, adopters and donors are not found quickly.
Essential donations are also needed to feed the wild horses rescued tonight who will live in foster care until they are adopted.
Governor Brian Sandoval ignored public outcry and took no action to save America’s iconic wild horses from going to an auction frequented by kill-buyers tonight.
“We hope Governor Sandoval realizes that outside of Nevada 80% of Americans are against horse slaughter,” explains Anne Novak, executive director of California-based Protect Mustangs. “This could be a pivotal point in his political career–the point where he tarnishes himself to the extent that he will never win the hearts of the 80%. He still has time to take action and become a hero and we hope he does.”
Protect Mustangs is a California-based preservation group whose mission is to educate the public about the American wild horse, protect and research wild horses on the range and help those who have lost their freedom.