Advocates worry about horses crossing Highway 50 East |

Advocates worry about horses crossing Highway 50 East

by F.T. Norton
Jim Grant/Nevada Appeal

Wild horse advocates believe they have solved the mystery of an increase of horse crossings recently in the Mound House area – the governor’s deputy chief of staff has been watering a two-acre plot of land he owns nearby and produced vegetation that attracted the horses.

Willis Lamm, president of non-profit wild horse group Least Resistance Training Concepts and also vice chair of the Lyon County Animal control board, said Tuesday that the large band of 24 wild horses has been drawn across Highway 50 East to feed on the green that has sprung up on Deputy Chief of Staff Lynn Hettrick’s property off Drako Drive on the south side of the highway. The band then crosses back to the north side of the highway where they drink from the quarry off Linehan Road.

“My criticism is (Hettrick’s) put his private interests ahead of public safety and the taxpayers’ interests,” said Lamm.

Hettrick on Tuesday said he never intended to lure horses to his property, but that he spread “pasture mix” seeds and must water the land in order to keep his water rights.

“State law requires that I must show beneficial use for the water rights,” he said. “I have to do it every so often. It’s state law.”

“I have no choice but to try to grow something,” said Hettrick of the land he’s owned since 1971 that abuts public land and the highway. “I watered last year and we never saw a horse. Why would I desire to have horses come down and get killed on the highway? I’m doing what I have to do for state law.

“There was no way in the world I could anticipate this occurring, and a fence won’t stop the horses from coming to the fence.”

A motorist struck a horse Sunday night as it crossed the highway east of Deer Run Road. The horse had to be euthanized.

On Monday, the Nevada Department of Transportation posted electronic signs between Red Rock and Deer Run roads on Highway 50 East warning motorists, “Possible Horse Crossing.”

The issue has now also prompted the Nevada Department of Agriculture to look into possibly removing the band from the range, said Hettrick.

A call to NDOA Director Tony Lesperance was not returned Tuesday.

Despite a blitz of e-mail and Internet postings suggesting Hettrick contacted NDOA to ask that the horses be removed, Hettrick said that NDOA contacted him.

Lamm said if the state tries to remove the horses, which he said are revered by Mound House residents, there will be a public outcry.

“This is going to be an ugly emotional issue,” he said.

He suggests the NDOA consider establishing a temporary alternative food source to keep the horses on the north side of the highway and residents in the area do what they can to discourage horses from crossing.

“But the damage is done,” said Lamm, “This is a huge mistake, what he did.”

Hettrick said he hopes that next year he won’t need to water.

“I’m hopeful that I have satisfied the beneficial-use requirements of the law and that I won’t have to water it again for five years,” he said.