Horse-vehicle accident demonstrates immediate need for improved road safety, groups say

Reno, NV – November 20, 2015 – The vehicle-horse accident on Highway 395 Alternate earlier today has prompted wild horse organizations to call upon the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) to immediately install cattle guards, fencing and take other public safety measures to prevent Virginia Range horses from accessing highways and other high-speed roadways where the horses are known to travel.  The accident earlier today is in an area where Virginia Range horses are known to travel.  

Local wild horse advocacy organizations and the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), which through its parent organization Return to Freedom (RTF) signed the precedent-setting Virginia Range Horse Management Cooperative Agreement with the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA), are urging NDOT to collaborate with NDA and wild horse advocacy organizations to address long-standing requests to improve safety on public roadways by taking preventative measures to keep horses off the high-speed roadways.

“NDOT had been requested to install a cattle guard in the same location where the accident occurred today. We have a number of requests before NDOT and are calling upon the agency to work collaboratively with NDA and the local community to implement specific actions that will improve safety on public roadways,” said Deniz Bolbol, AWHPC coordinator of the Cooperative Agreement program.

Earlier this year, AWHPC/RTF signed the Cooperative Agreement to humanely manage the Virginia Range horses. Local Nevada organizations working with AWHPC to implement the management program include Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund, Virginia Range Wildlife Protection Association, Wild Horse Preservation League, Virginia Range Sanctuary, and Wild Horse Connection. 

The State has jurisdiction over the historic Virginia Range horses, which have roamed the northern Nevada mountain range for more than a century. Because they make their home on state, local and private land, instead of federal land, they are not protected under the federal Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, and are classified as “stray livestock” by the state statute.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, founded in 2004 by Return to Freedom, is a coalition of more than 70 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come. Return to Freedom is dedicated to preserving the freedom, diversity and habitat of America's wild horses through sanctuary, education and conservation. RTF provides refuge to 400 wild horses at its California-based American Wild Horse Sanctuary.