Nevada Department of Agriculture issues statement about horse gathers in south Reno

RENO, NEVADA — The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) today issued the following statement about recent horse gathers in south Reno:


NDA receives complaints almost daily about horses in neighborhoods in and around the Virginia Range. Given available resources, NDA prefers to let the horses remain in the wild and only gathers Virginia Range horses when the horses present a public safety risk and a risk to themselves. Return to Freedom, a non-profit, in a standing cooperative agreement with NDA, has first right to adopt and place gathered horses at cost.

Gathering often involves working directly with property owners, as this is safest approach for personnel, citizens and the horses. NDA does not lure horses into neighborhoods. Gathers that occur in urban areas are because the horses are already in these locations. NDA has been actively working with horse advocates to keep horses out of neighborhoods — however, this time of year is particularly challenging, as horses are continually coming into neighborhoods seeking forage and water.

Because the Virginia Range horses fall under jurisdiction of the state as feral/estray livestock, NDA has had to increase gather operations in order to proactively prevent incidences such as horse-vehicle collisions, horses kicking and injuring children and horses getting stuck in fencing and in cattle guards.

This has been NDA’s standard, well-publicized approach for more than two years. 

NDA is cooperating with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department and is taking seriously any acts of interference of horse gathers, sabotage (cutting of fences), destruction of property and harassment and intimidation of those who are only wanting to ensure the safety of residents and horses by keeping horses out of neighborhoods and off of public roads. 

NDA would also like to remind residents that feeding horses is illegal. Feeding feral/estray horses encourages the animals to enter urban areas and is gross misdemeanor with a fine up to $2,000. NDA has in recent weeks issued two warnings for illegal horse feeding.

More information is in the Virginia Range horse fact sheet. http://agri.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/agrinvgov/Content/Media/2014-08-horses.pdf