Reno, NV – January 31, 2014 – This morning, eight Virginia Range horses, trapped in Pleasant Valley, south of Reno, by a local resident were apparently collected by the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA). The family of wild horses had moved out of their range to the west side of Highway 395. There are reports that the trapped horses may have been let loose by an unknown person or persons last night.
Local wild horse advocates had requested that NDA work with them to relocate the horses to the range and construct and/or mend fencing to keep the horses out of the 395 area.
“This incident highlights the importance of immediately finalizing the on-the-range management cooperative agreement with the state of Nevada,” said Deniz Bolbol of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, a coalition organized by Return to Freedom. “Last year, the Governor signed legislation to facilitate a public/private partnership to proactively address these types of wild horse issues. We are awaiting the NDA’s finalization of the cooperative agreement to implement this win-win solution for the citizens, the state, and, most of all, the beloved wild horses of the Virginia Range.”
Return to Freedom already has a cooperative agreement with the NDA that provides for first option to purchase any Virginia Range horses captured by the NDA. However, over the last 18 months, the Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund and other groups have rescued nearly 200 horses captured and removed from the Virginia Range by the NDA. At this time, sanctuaries and rescue groups are full and limited in their ability to absorb more captured horses.
If the NDA does not relocate the latest band of captured horses to the range, the number of Virginia Range mustangs it holds at the Carson City Prison will reach nearly 30. It is likely that groups will not be able to rescue this number of horses, and that some will be sent to the slaughter auction.
"We need to work together as a community to humanely manage these magnificent horses on the range, and we are eager to see the management cooperative agreement signed as soon as possible.” said Carrol Abel of Reno-based Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund, which is partnering with Return to Freedom on implementing community based solutions for the Virginia Range horses.
Last June, Governor Brian Sandoval signed legislation paving the way for the NDA to enter into management cooperative agreements with advocacy organizations. In October, Return to Freedom/AWHPC submitted a comprehensive proposal to NDA that outlined how local and national organizations would work together to implement the proposal. The group is awaiting NDA’s final approval of that agreement.
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.
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, founded in 2004 by Return to Freedom, is a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come.
The Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund is an all-volunteer Nevada non-profit organization created in 2008 with the mission to protect and preserve the Wild Horses of Nevada’s Virginia Range. Hidden Valley volunteers monitor herd health, provide attention to sick and injured horses and foals, and conduct range improvement projects.