Board of Examiners approves estray horse money |

Board of Examiners approves estray horse money

Geoff Dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau

The state Board of Examiners on Wednesday approved $72,919 in emergency funding to help wild horses roaming the Virginia Range survive the winter.

State Veterinarian David Thain said the animals are in bad shape after several years of drought and there isn’t enough forage or water on that range to support them through another winter.

In some parts of the Virginia Range, he said, “It looks like a moonscape.”

The money was approved unanimously by the board consisting of Gov. Kenny Guinn, Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa and Secretary of State Dean Heller.

Thain said the money will allow the Department of Agriculture to operate its horse management program, including removing some of the animals to the Northern Nevada Correctional Center gentling program and purchasing 30 tons of hay.

“But the long-term plan is to remove 200 to 300 head a year until we get the numbers down on the range,” said Thain.

There are an estimated 1,100 horses running free in the Virginia Range, which extends through Carson City, Lyon, Storey and Washoe counties. Experts say that range can support less than half that number.

In addition to the state range management team, Thain said Carson, Washoe and Lyon have all provided resources for the horses and that Washoe and Carson have provided money to help feed them.

The horses are a state problem because they are not technically wild and free-roaming horses covered under federal law. Since they are free, but on state lands, they are dubbed “estrays.”