Feeding wild horses can cost them freedom

By Bonnie Matton, Reno Gazette-Journal

Though people continue to feed and water wild horses, these horses most often end up becoming 'nuisance' horses, just like 'nuisance' bears.

And, as this usually happens in residential areas, close to busy streets and highways, the horses learn not to be afraid of cars and traffic, often getting hit or killed.

In any case, the end result is the same. The ones who do survive, won’t be wild or free any longer.

A new, expanded Nevada statute is aimed at preventing this from happening.

In the past, the law made it unlawful for a person to feed any estray or feral livestock, which includes wild horses. But, a person doing so received just a warning, not a citation or criminal charges.

During the 2013 Nevada Legislative Session, a new statute was passed that reads as follows: 'Besides the warning (and if not adhered to), a second subsequent violation of such offense is a gross misdemeanor.

The third statute NRS.130, Section 8, increases the penalty for that violation from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor.'

What this means is: The first offense draws a reprimand; the second, a fine; and the third, potential jail time.

Watering, though not illegal, can be just as harmful to the horses. Homeowners, having fed and/or watered horses in the past, have often found their 'wild pets' becoming aggressive toward their own horses, even becoming aggressive to humans, as they no longer fear them. Consequently, these 'neighborhood' wild horses will be removed.

Last fall there was a family group of horses frequenting the streets and lawns of Mark Twain Estates, in Lyon County.

Wild Horse Preservation League President, Dorothy Nylen, said, "One day, I saw them grazing in someone’s yard. The homeowners were casually sitting close to them in folding chairs."

She continued, "When I suggested this could be dangerous, the woman informed me she knew horses really well, wasn’t hurting the horses and the horses weren’t bothering them."

Shortly after Nylen talked with them, two stallions in the group started fighting. Luckily, those same people were able to get out of harm’s way; and in November of 2012, the Nevada Department of Agriculture picked up most of that band.

Originally Posted By Reno Gazette Journal