Issue: What the state does with the Virginia Range horses after they remove them from the range.
Priority: HIGH - IMMEDIATE
The historic Virginia Range horses are the horses that Velma "Wild Horse Annie" Johnston first fought to save and protect. These free-roaming horses of the region surrounding Virginia City, NV, and that inhabit the Comstock National Historic District fall under the management authority of the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDOA.)
There are laws on the books designed to facilitate the orderly management of these horses and these laws also provide a minimum level of protection for these horses, however the current administration of the NDOA has decided to throw the Nevada Revised Statutes out the window, which according to the Department, was done with the Governor Sandoval's "blessing."
Link: Laws Pertaining to the Ownership, Management and Disposition of Virginia Range Horses
The Nevada State Legislature had intended that horses removed from the range be placed with entities called "cooperators." These cooperators ranged from recognized non-profit groups to the inmate horse training program in Carson City. Cooperators also assisted in keeping horses off highways and out of residential neighborhoods when needed.
Under state law, the NDOA cannot sell horses unless the NDOA is unable to place them with cooperators. (NRS 569.075) To get around that law, the NDOA simply decided that it no longer had any cooperators. The NDOA may have discovered an end-run around the law but the department is certainly no longer compliant with legislative intent. Furthermore the NDOA does not comply with the advertising requirements under the law, but what importance is the law when you're a bureaucrat in the Sandoval administration?
Now when horses are picked up by the NDOA, they are first sent to the Department of Corrections where they are freezemarked and microchipped and the stallions gelded. Then they are shipped to Nevada Livestock Marketing in Fallon where horse advocates compete against slaughter buyers and the auction's owner himself to acquire the horses.
The advocates have been able to recover most of the Virginia Range horses. The ones that the slaughter buyers end up with go to Canada or Mexico where they are slaughtered for table meat.