The Virginia Range herd of wild horses are an iconic piece of Nevada, but also a controversial one. Population growth and “nuisance” horses have made headlines over the past few years.
One group trying to improve life for the Virginia Range residents and the horses is the Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund. The group recently developed a custom license plate with the DMV featuring an award-winning image by Ellen Holcomb of the Virginia Range mustang named “Ghost.”
Specialty plate fees collected from the license plates will help to fund five organizations dedicated to the Virginia Range horses:
- Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund in Reno
- Least Resistance Training Concepts / Wild Horse Mentors in Stagecoach
- Virginia Range Wildlife Protection Association in Virginia City Highlands
- Wild Horse Connection in Reno
- Wild Horse Preservation League in Dayton
Shannon Windle, president of HVWHPF, said there are several key areas where the funding will be used.
She said fencing, gates, and cattle guards to keep horses off roads and residential communities is a priority and has proven effective when people close gates behind them. This keeps horses on the range and out of people’s yards where they can become “nuisance” horses. A wild horse is considered a nuisance when it is primarily living in residential areas and not returning to the range.
Some funds will also support horse rescue and medical care. Wild horses, like any animal, have accidents. They can be hit by vehicles, become entangled in trash and rogue barbwire, fall into drainage ditches, get into fights with each other or other animals, and get trapped in deep mud, just to start. Part of the funds from the license plates will be used for training and equipment specialized to help wild horses in need.
Sanctuary and adoption is another area wild horse groups will focus spending the funds. HVWHPF currently has 145 Virginia Range horses under their sanctuary after the horses were put on auction and were likely to be purchased for slaughter. Funds from these license plates will help build the 685-acre Virginia Range Mustangs Haven at Equine Legacy Ranch that HVWHPF is constructing. Some of these horses will also receive training and be available for adoption. Horses that are too old or are just untrainable will have a safe place to live out their days.
Those interested in getting the new “Ghost” license plate can get them right now at the DMV and do not need to wait until registering or re-registering their vehicle. A $6 substitute plate fee will apply in addition to the specialty plate fees.
Windle said they are hoping to get 3,000 plates on the roads by this December.
For more information on the Virginia Range horses and the “Ghost” license plate, to report a horse in danger, or for details on volunteering, visit http://www.vrmustangs.org/
Ty O’Neil is a lifelong student of anthropology with two degrees in the arts. He is far more at home in the tear gas filled streets of war torn countries than he is relaxing at home. He has found a place at This Is Reno as a photojournalist. He hopes to someday be a conflict photojournalist covering wars and natural disasters abroad.