Group says it doesn’t want to slaughter Virginia Range horses |

Group says it doesn’t want to slaughter Virginia Range horses

Wild horses run on the Virginia Range during a horse count conducted by the Virginia Range Wildlife Protection Association in 2008.
Nevada Appeal file photo |

A spokesman for the organization Protect the Harvest has strongly objected to wild horse advocates’ charges they want to slaughter horses in the Virginia Range herd.

Dave Duquette, the group’s strategic planner, said Protect the Harvest is a nonprofit group dedicated to supporting agriculture — farming, hunting, ranching and other activities they see as key to the American way of life.

Horse protection advocates have repeatedly claimed they want to take ownership of the herd, round them up and sell them off including to slaughter houses.

“That is absolutely a total fabrication,” Duquette said. “I just want to set the record straight.”

The issue was raised after the Nevada Department of Agriculture canceled an agreement with the American Wild Horse Campaign to operate a birth control program for those horses, darting them with chemical contraceptives. Agriculture officials say they want to turn the herd that now numbers about 3,000 over to an organization willing to manage them.

The horses in question are listed as feral and estray and aren’t protected under the federal Wild Horse and Burro Act.

“Why don’t these people put in their bid to be that group,” he said. “They could manage them instead of suing the state. They could manage them and be responsible for them.

“Protect the Harvest has no desire to be in the management position of these horses,” he said. “We’re not going to be that group.”

He said Agriculture’s problem is the herd has grown from a couple of dozen animals to 3,000.

“That’s the problem,” he said. “Some of them have to be taken off the range because there’s not enough range out there for them but they (advocate groups) would rather see them starve to death.”

Advocates including Louise Martin of AWHC have called on Gov. Brian Sandoval to block the Agriculture Board from releasing responsibility for the Virginia Range herd to a private nonprofit they fear would eliminate the herd. But she too agreed the Virginia Range herd is too large for the territory.