Wild horse roundup scheduled | NevadaAppeal.com

Wild horse roundup scheduled

Robyn Moormeister

The Nevada Department of Agriculture will conduct a helicopter round-up of Virginia Range estray horses within the next two weeks.

Nevada Department of Agriculture representative Ed Foster said the department can’t reveal exactly when the round-up will occur, because the presence of onlookers is a potential danger to the horses and helicopter pilot.

“Last time we did this, two people coughed and 70 horses turned and went the wrong way,” he said. “It’s very tricky.”

Helicopters used to herd horses to their captors fly very low, he said, and complications could be disastrous.

The Bureau of Land Management will assist the Agriculture Department in gathering 75-100 horses in the southern part of the mountain range.

Following the gather, the horses will be held at the Carson City-Stewart Conservation Camp, where a veterinarian will perform vaccinations for all major equine diseases, de-worming, testing for fatal diseases and freeze-branding with the NDOA’s “N” mark.

This year, the horses will also be tested for West Nile virus.

The horses will go to four adoption groups: Lifesavers Inc. of Lancaster, Calif., Least Resistance Training Concepts Inc. of Stagecoach, Mustang Spirit of Phelan, Calif., and Wild Horse Foundation of Franklin, Texas.

Wild Horse Preservation League President Bonnie Matton said her group has traditionally been opposed to helicopter round-ups, but improvement in piloting methods has begun to change its view.

“They used to be poorly flown,” Matton said. “The background on this has been awful, horrible. The horses were running on rocky ground and a lot of them were killed.”

She said pilots are flying much slower and more carefully around the estrays, but horse advocates should continue to keep a close watch on the government’s treatment of estray and wild horses.

The roundup is funded by a federal grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services.

Foster said the Virginia Range cannot sustain the current population of estray horses, estimated at 1,190.

Ideally, he said, the maximum estray population in the Virginia Mountain Range should be reduced to 650.

Contact Robyn Moormeister at rmoormeister@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.