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Motorists urged to be cautious around estray horses


A driver damaged his truck after running over the two horses on Old US 395 South. Image courtesy of the Nevada Department of Agriculture.


SPARKS -– The Nevada Department of Agriculture is urging the public to be cautious when driving on highways, public roads and in neighborhoods near the Virginia Range area. The range includes the areas east of Carson City, Fernley, Dayton, Lockwood, south Reno, Silver Springs and Virginia City.

Multiple vehicular accidents with feral and estray horses have occurred in recent months. One accident resulted in a motorist’s death.

The Department collects feral and estray horses near high population areas when public safety issues arise. Eight horses were collected from Hidden Valley of Reno on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 after the Department received complaints about property damage, horses crossing into roadways and public safety concerns in the area.

“The horses move into populated areas where they can find food more easily, especially this time of year when forage resources become scarce in the highlands,” said Flint Wright, administrator of the Department’s Animal Industry Division.

A woman’s Saturn was totaled after she hit two estray horses. Image courtesy of the Nevada Department of Agriculture.

Image courtesy of the Nevada Department of Agriculture.

Feeding the feral/estray horses encourages the animals to enter urban areas and is illegal.

Gathered horses are referred to the Return to Freedom, Inc. (RTF). RTF may purchase all horses collected by the Department for public safety purposes for $100 per horse on an as-is basis.

The Department is also seeking to enter into an agreement with a private non-profit for the management of the Virginia Range horse population. (See related news story: http://s.coop/1s5bf.)


Despite common misconceptions that these animals are wild horses, the federal Bureau of Land Management declared the Virginia Range “wild horse free area” through a land use planning process in 1986. The herd in the Virginia Range is therefore designated as estray/feral livestock and fall under existing Nevada state laws pertaining to estray/feral livestock. These include NRS 569.0075, 569.008 and 569.0085.

Although the horses do not fall under protection of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the Nevada Department of Agriculture and the State of Nevada have taken precautions to ensure the estray/feral horses have been cared for in accordance with Nevada state law.

Virginia Range feral / estray horses crossing a roadway.
Virginia Range feral / estray horses crossing a roadway. Image courtesy of the Nevada Department of Agriculture.
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