Horse News

Nevada Department of Agriculture sends Wild Horses to Slaughter

Bulletin from the Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates

The Nevada Department of Agriculture’s covert deal to send wild horses to slaughter dealer Kevin D. “Ole” Olsen.


The Nevada Department of Agriculture is responsible for managing the free-roaming horses of the Virginia Range near Reno. The Virginia Range horses are a component of the Comstock National Historic District and the ones that Velma (Wild Horse Annie) Johnston first fought to protect. Over several years the Nevada Legislature has passed laws designed to protect this herd and set specific requirements for the disposition of horses removed from the range. The current Director of Agriculture, Tony Lesperance, tends to ignore these laws.

Recent Developments.

On Thursday morning, December 3, 2009, Nevada State Brand Inspector Daryl Peterson was observed directing inmates at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center to load eight Virginia Range horses into a Nevada Department of Agriculture gooseneck horse trailer. The pickup towing the trailer was also identified as belonging to the Department of Agriculture and was driven by Peterson. The trailer contained seven horses that the Department had trapped in the Damonte Ranch area near Southeast Reno and one horse trapped in the Virginia City Highlands community north of Virginia City.

Peterson, the pickup and trailer were observed traveling in the direction of Elko, NV. Animal welfare volunteers contacted the Chicago based Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA,) expressing concerns that Director of Agriculture Tony Lesperance, a former Shovel Brigade thug and Jim Gibbons appointee, was making good on his threats to send Virginia Range horses (Nevada state property) to slaughter. [Citation: Las Vegas Review Journal]

File Photo: Virginia Range horses at the Department of Agriculture holding corrals, Carson City.

As it became apparent that the horses were in fact being hauled to Elko, and after volunteers were unable to find any required notices of sale being published for the animals in question, Laura Leigh, of EWA contacted the Nevada Department of Agriculture to ascertain the status and disposition of the horses.

According to Leigh, everyone played dumb on the subject and she was referred to a chain of people within the Department of Agriculture including Director Lesperance. Not a single person at the Department claimed to have any knowledge about any horses. Leigh was then directed to contact Chris Collis in the Elko office, who in turn referred Leigh to Lt. Blaine Northrup. Northrup also claimed to have no knowledge about any horses but questioned Leigh on how she became aware of them.

Leigh next contacted Dale Leibherr at the Office of the Nevada Attorney General. Leibherr is a special investigator who in the past has been tasked with investigating allegations of improprieties at the Nevada Department of Agriculture.

According to Leigh, when asked to investigate this matter, Leibherr responded, “I investigate crime. Horses don’t commit crimes.”

Leigh said, “I replied that the people required to follow the laws that handle state property may be in the process of committing a crime. He told me he would only look at it if I provided him the proof. I told him the documents that would prove or disprove the crime are in the control of those possibly committing the offense and my requests (to them) for the documentation were not being responded to in any way. He said without my providing the documents he could not act.”

Meanwhile Lt. Northrup, NDoA’s Northern Region Enforcement Supervisor, who had previously claimed no knowledge of the horses, was observed in the state pickup with Inspector Peterson outside Elko headed to Meadow Valley Ranch, owned by slaughter dealer Kevin D. (Ole) Olsen. [Citations:,]

It was suggested by a public official that Olsen was just “keeping” horses, however collecting horses as pets is not within Olsen’s ordinary course of business. Olsen is reported as a tenant of the C. Horse auction and slaughter horse collecting station, Moses Lake, WA. The collecting pens are rented by: Kevin (Ole) Olsen, DOT 975896, 1 Frontier Dr., Elko, NV 89801. When the Washington based group Animal Angels investigated the operation, they reported that they were told the following by a resident on the premises that all horses are owned by Ole Olsen. He keeps them there until they go to the “glue factory.” Mr. Olsen has people come out there to feed them, sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. He himself never goes back to the pens or checks on the horses. The auction has a horse sale once a month. [Citation:]

Lies are not uncommon within the Nevada Department of Agriculture. Last year Peterson was allegedly ordered to prepare an falsified brand certificate that was used to dump a couple dozen Virginia Range horses in Oregon. Lesperance has been accused of making false statements to the State Legislature in attempts to get money for his department. When challenged over false statements made by himself or his personnel, Lesperance’s typical response is, “Those activists twist what I say.”

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto’s office seems to do little better. While investigating extortion allegations against state officials (possibly involving Director Lesperance,) the Attorney General’s office lost track of some documents and at one time lost the entire file. When this scenario was presented to a couple of local Nevada law enforcement officials, the most polite (and only printable) response was, “You want the AG’s office to investigate anything? Good luck.”

Leigh stated, “Nevada does have laws and at some point someone is going to enforce them. If this deal was legal, and state laws do permit sales, why all the secrecy?”

Ole Olsen Interview

Examiner On-Line writer Carrol Abel was able to interview Mr. Olsen. This interview appears in her Examiner report on this story here.

What you can do

You can contact the following public officials, complain about the conduct taking place at the Nevada Department of Agriculture, and demand an investigation.

  • Governor Jim Gibbons
    101 N. Carson Street
    Carson City, NV 89701
    Fax: 775-684-5683
    Contact form: Contact Governor Gibbons
  • Director Tony Lesperance
    Nevada Department of Agriculture
    405 South 21st St
    Sparks NV 89431
    Fax: 775-353-3638
  • Catherine Cortez Masto
    Nevada Attorney General
    100 N. Carson St.
    Carson City, NV 89701
    775-684-1100 (switchboard)
    FAX: 775-684-1108
    775-684-1189 (Edie Cartwright, Public Affairs Officer)

John Holland, President of EWA, indicated that they were watching this situation closely and will follow through with any necessary action.

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9 replies »

  1. We are not able to catch this kind of activity often but it sure needs to be followed up as Laura Leigh is doing. This incident seems to be defiant behavior which the horses pay for with their lives. There is nothing more reprehensible than what these people are attempting to do with these wild horses who do not belong to them! This has brought out the worst in our enemies and it will keep bringing out the best in us; citizens of America. Keep fighting these bastards! Mar


  2. NOTE TO RT’S BLOG FOLLOWERS. RT has temorarily lost internet access due to a down cable. It could be days before it is repaired so if you have written RT and have not received a response, that’s why! He didn’t want you to think he’s been ignoring you. vicki | Equine Welfare Alliance


  3. Laura Leigh, Thank you again – thanks are not really enough. You are heroic and an inspiration to us all!

    I will continue to believe in an awakening – MUST HAPPEN! I have had so many, some made me look at myself and fellow humans and be very uncomfortable, but I am better for having pushed myself. WE must keep investigating, reporting, researching and learning, but we must remember EVERY DAY to “picture”, to “see” the ideal, what that would look like. Our common visions, prayers, whatever anyones individual faith or scientific approach allows them, will have as much power as our writing – self fullfilling prophecies really do come true, good and bad – so remember to “see the good”.

    Watched a cute family film “All Roads lead Home” that portraits “horse and dog business” in a way to make it all seem ok. This particular film shows a collective mentality and total disregard for living things in such a propaganda way.

    But, then found a JEWEL documentary, “The Unforseen”, though about development’s negative impact – there was an insightful poem threaded throughout. I recommend this one – will watch again!


  4. Sick, sick, sick is all I can say about these slimeballs I keep reading about. Whether these poor animals carted off by the Department of “Agriculture” end up at the slaughter house or in some no-neck outfitter’s string it doesn’t matter — I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!!! And throw in these reporters who give half the story, to boot!

    They can all go to blazes!!!

    Remember: Noah’s ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic was built by professionals! (from my local newspaper)


  5. …”According to Leigh, when asked to investigate this matter, Leibherr responded, “I investigate crime. Horses don’t commit crimes.”…

    That has got to be one of the stupidest, insensitive, incompetent statements I have ever heard spewed from the mouth of a public official! It is staggering and if I lived in Nevada I would be outraged and demand that moron’s removal IMMEDIATELY.

    Good luck at today’s meeting.


  6. I put all these agencies, all the employees, and all their croonies in the same lot as Peck’s “evil” people. They are all on the most “evil” drug – power and greed, and it will leave them the same broken people as any other drug does – Yes Janet they can all to blazes! Or clean up!


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