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Dept. of Agriculture urges extreme caution around feral and estray horses


Virginia Range feral / estray horses crossing a roadway.
Virginia Range feral / estray horses crossing a roadway.

Department investigating injury incident in Damonte Ranch area

SPARKS, Nev. – As Nevada begins the transition from summer to fall, the Nevada Department of Agriculture is reminding citizens to be cautious around all feral and estray horses.

“As more children and families are getting up earlier for school buses and sporting events, we are urging the public to be alert,” said Flint Wright, administrator of the Department’s Animal Industry Division. “This time of year, forage becomes scarce in the highlands and feral and estray horses are more commonly found in populated, urban areas.”

The Department urges citizens to keep an eye out and use caution around all feral and estray horses.

“Today, the Department is also sadly investigating a reported incident of a child being kicked in the face by a feral/estray horse in the Damonte Ranch area of south Reno,” Wright continued. “While the investigation continues, we want the public to be aware that these horses are unpredictable and should be considered wild.”

The Department of Agriculture also urges caution 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.

In the past two to three days, two horses have been reported as being struck by vehicles, and multiple vehicular accidents with feral and estray horses have occurred in recent months.

“The Nevada Department of Agriculture remains committed to protecting public safety while caring for estray/feral horses in accordance with Nevada state law,” Wright added. “Over the past two years, the only horses that have been trapped are those considered to be public safety concerns. We want to inform the public so we can keep trappings to a minimum.”


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.

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