TRIC developer to governor: Horse giveaway will put GOP candidates at risk

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Photo taken by Paloma Ianes at the RTF Wild Horse Sanctuary


As published by the Reno Gazette Journal

The developer of a Northern Nevada industrial park that’s home to Tesla, Google, Walmart and other major companies stepped up his campaign to convince the state to backtrack on a plan to give up ownership of about 3,000 free-range horses.

On Thursday, Lance Gilman delivered a letter warning Gov. Brian Sandoval the state’s giveaway plan could become a “huge political issue in Northern Nevada, putting Republican candidates at great risk with their constituents who favor the horses running free and preserving their way of life.”

It’s the second time in recent weeks that Gilman wrote Sandoval asking the governor to intervene and prevent the Nevada Department of Agriculture from enacting a plan to give up state ownership of horses in the Virginia Range, which includes the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center.

“I’m going to do everything in my power to see that we have a better outcome,” said Gilman, who is also a Storey County Commissioner.

At stake is the future of about 3,000 horses that live in an area roughly bounded by U.S. Highways 395 and 95A in the west and east and Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 50 in the north and south.

Unlike wild horses in the rest of the state which are managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management, the Virginia Range horses are state property.

Until late October, they had been managed through a cooperative agreement with America’s Wild Horse Campaign, a private, non-profit horse advocacy group.

The deal called for the non-profit to keep horses off roadways, facilitate treatment or removal of injured or sick horses and application of birth control to help manage the population.

That agreement fell apart, however, with each side claiming bad faith on the part of the other.

Rather than issue a new agreement, the agriculture board decided to issue a request for proposals from non-profits willing to take ownership of the horses altogether.

Board members characterize it as a chance for the horses to get a fresh start with better management than the state can provide through cooperative agreements.

But horse advocates characterize it as certain doom for the animals. They say the fact the animals are treated similarly to livestock under Nevada law means the new owners would be liable for horse-vehicle collisions. That alone, they say, makes the plan unworkable.