Two dozen protesters held signs on both sides of Carson Street in front of the legislative building on Friday to bring attention to the trapping and potential sale of wild horses.
The advocates held signs that said horses should not be sold for slaughter and do not belong "in frying pans."
About 20 horses have been trapped so far on private and state land, known as the Virginia Range, a 284,000-acre area that stretches from the Carson River to the Truckee River.
The state Department of Agriculture declared the horses a nuisance and they will go up for auction on Sept. 19. They're being held at the Stewart Conservation Camp's horse area.
If the horses had been on U.S. Bureau of Land Management land, they would be under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Because they are on state and private land, they are considered to be feral or estray, which means they're under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Agriculture.
By law, the department can send the horses to the livestock sale in Fallon after advertising them in the county they were captured in, said Ed Foster, acting public information officer for the Department of Agriculture.
In 2011, horses started coming down from the hills in September. That same behavior started in April this year, Foster said.
The traps have been set because landowners have complained that the horses are becoming nuisances.
"During the past 45 days, the Nevada Department of Agriculture has experienced an unprecedented increase in the number of complaints regarding the Virginia Range estray horses," according to the department.
"The majority of the complaints involve private property damage and horses in roadways," according to the department.
"The latest Virginia Range estray horse interaction with an automobile" happened on Aug. 21, according to the Department of Agriculture. "A mare and foal were crossing U.S. Highway 95, six miles south of Fernley" at 10 p.m.
A pickup hit both horses. The driver was not seriously injured, although both horses died.
"Motorists traveling on Highways 50, 95 and 395 should use caution driving especially at night," according to the department.
Kathy Barlaskey, who lives in Hidden Valley, held a sign on the sidewalk in front of the legislative building.
She said she used to be able to see horses from her kitchen window but hasn't recently.
"I'm here so we can talk them into not slaughtering horses," she said.
Terri Farley came out to protest because she said she thinks letting the horses go to the livestock sale would mean they may be bought for slaughter, and that would lead to a downturn in tourism.
"I don't think we should be feeding people in Belgium," she said. "Some immigrant groups eat horse but that isn't who we (Americans) are," she said.