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


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

Photo by Nevada Highway Patrol

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.

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