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Drought Causes Stray Horses To Seek Food In Nevada’s Urban Areas

Audio

Aired 12/7/12

Nevada's drought is causing stray horses to seek food in urban areas.

An early-morning crash on a highway south of Reno killed two horses on Nov. 28, 2012. A drought in the state is causing stray horses to seek food in urban areas.

— Agricultural officials in Nevada say the number of wild horses straying off the range into urban areas has increased tremendously the past year.

Low rainfall is wiping out feed on a range in northern Nevada near Reno, and Jim Barbee, director of the state’s Department of Agriculture, said the horses are in poor condition.

He said years of good feed before the shortage of rain led to an overpopulation of stray, feral horses.

"Those horses have that area overpopulated, have eaten all that feed down and there’s no food for the horses," Barbee said. "They’re coming to the urban areas where there’s green lush lawns."

Officials also worry about public safety. The horses have not only destroyed sprinkler systems, but also caused serious car accidents on roadways.

Last year, officials rounded up about 39 horses near cities, but in 2012 that number has jumped up to 130. In July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture applied a drought disaster declaration to all of Nevada’s 17 counties.

Comments

Avatar for user 'TFarle'

TFarle | December 8, 2012 at 7:06 a.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

The Nevada Department of Agriculture responded to well-meaning folks feeding wild horses carrots in a counter intuitive way: Director Barbee ordered MORE food to be placed in neighborhoods.
NDofA's green pipe corrals full of hay tempt wild horses down from canyons where they have survived centuries of drought.
Director Barbee has conditioned these horse to cross highways and enter private property. This is dangerous to all concerned.
The Department of Agriculture Board meets this coming Wednesday in Reno, and they would serve the public well by directing an end to this expensive, labor-intensive "strategy" and a return to free, cooperative agreements with equine groups skilled in moving wild horses back to where they belong -- in the foothills of wild Nevada.

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Avatar for user 'Nevada_Willis'

Nevada_Willis | December 9, 2012 at 7:18 a.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

More Pravda. Yes, we are having a drought. Nevada routinely experiences droughts. We're the most arid state in the nation. In the past volunteers would deliver large quantities of water back into the hills where there is plenty of feed, but no water to support horses, wildlife and domestic livestock. Everybody won. Doesn't happen any more. In the past nonprofit groups were authorized to provide diversion feeding to keep horses out of residential areas. All of this stuff was privately funded - didn't cost the taxpayers a cent. But our Nevada Department of Agriculture eliminated those programs. Now bureaucrats cry wolf over drought and starving horses and guess what? Well intended citizens hear this stuff and decide to "help" by feeding horses in and near neighborhoods and highways. Years ago the horse advocates predicted the present outcome - horses desensitized to people and vehicles, getting onto lawns and onto roadways. Well, duh! So now these same bureaucrats who caused the problem are now wringing their hands over the outcome and spending taxpayers' money chasing down and trapping horses. Great administration we have here.

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