Horse News

Nevada Wild Horses Saved from Slaughter at Sale

Story by Scott Sonner

Advocates Plan to Protect Wild Mustangs Purchased
3 week old foal being dragged with baling twine by developer's hired security at Ag. Dept. bait trap

3 week old foal being dragged with baling twine by developer’s hired security at Ag. Dept. bait trap

RENO, Nev. — Wild horse protection advocates say they have successfully saved dozens of free-roaming horses in Nevada from the slaughterhouse by purchasing them for several thousand dollars at a state auction in Fallon.

Shannon Windle of the Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund says she wrote a check for $7,720 to the Nevada Agriculture Department late Wednesday for 29 of the 41 horses the state captured southeast of Reno in recent weeks.

The state says they pose a danger to motorists on area highways.

Windle says she recognized at least two bidders at the auction who would have sold the animals for slaughter. But she’s confident a group from nearby Stagecoach that bought eight horses and the individuals who purchased the rest will help protect the mustangs.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Wild horse protection advocates were confident they had raised enough money to buy 41 horses at a state auction in Nevada on Wednesday, animals they feared otherwise would be headed to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada.

Carrol Abel of the Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund told The Associated Press she could not estimate the total cost but was prepared to spend thousands of dollars if necessary at the auction late Wednesday in Fallon, about 60 miles east of Reno.

“Once we get them, they’ll be placed in safe pasture and we’ll be looking for (permanent) homes,” Abel said.

The vast majority of the money was raised by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, a national coalition of more than 50 groups including the Humane Society of the United States, In Defense of Animals and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Campaign spokeswoman Deniz Bolbol confirmed they believed they had collected enough money to keep the mustangs out of the hands of so-called kill buyers.

So far, the coalition has provided the Hidden Valley group with a check for $20,000 “and donations are still coming in for the care of the horses,” campaign director Suzanne Roy said Wednesday.

The stray horses don’t enjoy federal protection because the U.S. Bureau of Land Management determined long ago there were no wild herds on federal land in that area when Congress passed the Free-Roaming Wild Horse and Bureau Act in 1971.

Instead, these “feral” or “estray” horses are considered property of the state, which captured them because of the threat they pose to motorists when they wander onto state highways along the Virginia Range southeast of Reno.

State officials believe there are about 2,500 of the animals on private and state lands near Virginia City. More than three dozen have been hit since summer on three rural highways in Lyon and Storey counties around Silver Springs and Virginia City.

“We are damn lucky nobody has gotten killed,” Nevada State Agriculture board member Ramona Morrison said last week.

Until this summer, the state made the horses available to advocacy groups for purchase before proceeding to public auction. But that policy was suspended in August after one group re-released the animals to the range in violation of the sales agreement.

Abel said she didn’t know the exact amount of money the groups had spent at previous auctions to save a total of 99 horses in recent months, but she was confident it totaled in the tens of thousands of dollars. Abel said in at least one instance, they had to pay an average of about $315 per horse – twice the normal price – because others bid up the price.

“And the cost of buying the horses is just the tip of the iceberg,” Abel said in reference to additional unspecified costs to transport, feed and temporarily house the animals while seeking permanent homes for them.

The advocates had urged Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval to call off the auction and turn the horses over to them for free. Sandoval acknowledged he received 18,000 letters and faxes to that effect but said he believed the state Agriculture Department was bound by its own rules and regulations to round up the horses and sell them.

“There is no reason not to conduct the auction,” he told the Las Vegas Sun on Tuesday.

Bolbol said the donations to save the horses came from around the world, including Europe, Canada and South Africa.

“The powerful grassroots response to the plight of these 41 horses sends a clear message to every politician and government official engaged on the wild horse issue: citizens across the world value Nevada’s mustangs and expect the government to protect them,” she said.

Sandoval’s press secretary, Mary Sarah Kinner, said Wednesday that state agriculture officials had “productive meetings” in recent days with national advocacy groups including the campaign coalition about “proposed future solutions to managing feral and estray horses while also protecting the safety of the public.”

“Discussions are ongoing,” she said in an email to AP on Wednesday.

Bolbol said they look forward to working with Sandoval and the state on a plan that benefits “both wild horses and Nevada taxpayers.”

14 replies »

  1. {“the Agriculture Department was bound by its own rules and regulations to round up the horses and sell them.”}

    I’m downright sick of the ‘rules’. The BLM uses the same type of excuses i.e. “the proposed actions are not part of the public land usage plan”. Never mind the plan was written 20 years ago.

    The so called “power’s that be” need to have more flexibility when it comes to taking actions that concern a living being. They should have some leeway to change a plan immediately rather than waiting years for a i.e. new ‘environmental study’ or a new ‘range management plan’ to act when lives are at stake.

    In this case the State was clearly at fault. They are a fence-out state. To those of you unfamiliar that is a mandate that if you don’t want wild animals on your property then build a fence and maintain it. Yet the state allows homeowner associations and developers to dictate if you can build a fence or not. So if wild horses roam onto your land you’re only alternative is to call the Ag Dept to have them picked up.

    It is against the law to feed the wild horses but when a citation is written it is soon forgotten. The D.A. in Storey county hasn’t brought one case to court. Not even the cases involving folks leaving bales of hay in their own driveways luring the horses into town.

    Because the state does not enforce it’s own laws to help protect the horses it seems a little two-faced to say the Ag Dept was forced by rule to pick up the horses who were guilty of nothing more than looking for food in a place they had found it before…someone’s front yard or next to the highway.

    God Bless Shannon and the other advocates that invested time, phone calls, emails and yes money to help save these animals from the hands of a Mexican Butcher.


  2. At this point from sandovals actionsthe only thing he needs to do is refund the money in the form of a donation tho help care for these horses. Otherwise Nevada needs to remove the wild horse from anything the use to promote themselves.


  3. Prayers for the remaining 12 horses left at this horrible auction.. I do believe its a terrible thing when a person has lost all compassion for the living creatures on this earth! After reading this letter there are those of us who do remain with compassion and thoughts of others. THe governor has to be elected and I hope and pray for him to lose and be removed from office. The excuses that are being used seem unfair and if I must say spiteful. Hope the auction does not go very well and all the horses are rescued by people who want to save them and there lives. Thank you Shannon Windle for saving 29 horses. I also would like to thank the National Coalition of 50 groups and the Human Society of the US.. and the American Society for the prevention of cruelty to Animals… it is a truely broken system when groups have to write a check for 20,000 and over this amount because we have poor leaders in powerful places. Hoping and praying for this to change in the NEar future for our animals and the tax payers. THe most precious thing is to preserve life and have compassion.


    • Ellen, according to Willis Lamm all horses were saved – none left behind. Hidden Valley took 29, the town of Stagecoach reclaimed their 8, the other 4 adopted by private bidders that were confirmed to be good horse people. 🙂


  4. This is great news! I used to live in Carson City, and Stagecoach is just next door, so this story is near and dear to my heart. I’d like to add that a lot of the funds came from Horse and Man’s loyal readers, so a big shout out goes to Dawn Diovera, blogger extraordinaire!
    Thank you, R.T., for this happy update! Here’s Dawn’s story:


    • Thank You so much Rcatheron for this great update and info on the dragged Filly, Please keep us update , !!! Thank You Again …………………………..


  5. This is a bunch of hooie ” More than three dozen have been hit since summer on three rural highways in Lyon and Storey counties around Silver Springs and Virginia City.

    “We are damn lucky nobody has gotten killed,” Nevada State Agriculture board member Ramona Morrison said last week.”

    As far a I know there were only 3, count them three, one two three, horses killed by motorists!

    Just goes to show you they will lie about anything to get what they want, and in this case it’s ‘free blood money’ from those horses!


    • You are absolutely right NVKate ! All of the digging I have done has only turned up less than a dozen horses hit by cars !!!!!! And they were speeding, and not paying attention ! The sighns along those roadways clearly show range cattle and horses , CAUTION !!!!! I have been traveling back and forth between Stage Coach and Spanish Springs and to Carson and have never even come close to hitting a horse ! Coyotes , rabbits, yes , but never a horse.! A range cow was really close to the road, but I SLOWD DOWN !!!!! I have a ???? What exactly does FREE RANGE mean ??? Can anybody enlighten me please????


  6. what wonderful news on this soggy day! god bless our wild equines, god’s majestic ones! i contribute monthly to the wild horse preservation group here and it’s the best feeling in the world knowing these 41 beauties are safe and sound. keep up the good work!


  7. How misleading to say there were no legal federal herd areas around the Virginia Range for there were three, but BLM decided to disown the wild horses here. This would have been perfect for setting up a Cooperative Agreement under Section 6 of the act and protecting all these wild horses. These were the old historical Storey County herd. See my book The Wild Horse Conspiracy for more on this, available on


    • Craig…absolutely correct!

      Like wild equines stand in one place all day, all week, all month year in and year out.

      What arrogant, ignorant jerks!


  8. All horse advocates are strong and bold. We are going to help our horses through thick and thin. This illuminates the beauty of preserving our wild herds that must come back to us. We should not have to pay the government for our horses. They should be grateful that our horse advocates are willing to help them and care for they will need our care long term. So proud of all of you out there stepping into this incredible circle of faith. The horses will always be grateful and are depending on us. They are our legacy and we must preserve our special ones indeed. We must develop a Cooperative Agreement under Section 6 of the act just as Craig Downer stated and connect this with legal complete protection. We must save them. Thank you all that have there hands in the mix. I am so proud to be a part of our horse advocates. I have made this my lives work and I pledge to save as many as we can. Put the law back in place to protect all of our horses forever. We must never give into this horrific removal of our horses, never. Let us put them back out on Eco ranges especially designed for them to survive. I am working on this project. It is huge. More news on this later.


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