By Terri Russell, KOLO-TV
This isn't the first time they've been here, and it won't be their last.
But their message today had to do with Nevada's Department of Agriculture.
Its handling of the wild horses on the Virginia Range, and what they say is the department's advocacy of horse slaughter.
“They are headed to slaughter. They go to the Fallon Auction Yard after they have been picked up. Then it's anyone is fair game. And I'm told they are shipped of to Mexico and Canada,” says Lisa Light an advocate.
“And the Department of Agriculture who now has purview over them is refusing to so far to release the horses even though somebody wants to buy them,” says Suzanne McMann another advocate.
The advocates say their position has been bolstered by the revelation of 2011 transcripts from an agriculture board meeting where three members discussed horse slaughter, a market overseas where the meat is a delicacy, and was there an interest in drumming up public support for the practice.
You may recall two years ago, Congress lifted the ban on horse slaughter in this country--a move that could have had ramifications here in Nevada--and something the AG Board might want to discuss.
Which is what they did, says the AG Department's Director.
“There is one applicant that has been made to the USDA for a slaughter plant in New Mexico. But we've never made contact with them or any other facility. Our intention has been to protect public safety,” Director Jim Barbee.
Barbee says budget constraints and staff shortages prevent his department from entering into cooperative agreements with wild horse advocates at this time.
Advocates may have to go elsewhere to make such agreements happen, the state legislature, or even the governor himself.
Protestors say so far the governor has been unresponsive but they are hoping after they hand deliver 2000 signatures to his office, that will change.