Governor Sandoval Admin. Violates NV Law & Issues Ill-Conceived Proposal for Virginia Range Mustangs

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Carson City, NV (January 30, 2018) ... The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is blasting the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) for issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) to “give away” 3,000 Virginia Range wild horses.  AWHC contends the NDA’s proposal violates the Nevada Revised Statutes.  AWHC also claims NDA’s proposal is fraudulent because under its terms it  will be  impossible for the new owner of the horses to manage the herd “In the spirit of protection and preservation,” as Governor Brian Sandoval specified to constituents in a January 5, 2018 letter.

AWHC also contends that the liability associated with owning 3000 wild ranging horses will prevent any legitimate animal advocacy group will from accepting ownership of the herd.  Presently NDA has statutory immunity from liability for damage caused by the herd.  A private owner would not have such immunity and would be responsible for any damage caused by the free roaming horses.   AWHC announced that, based on its extensive research, no insurance carrier will provide full liability coverage for a private entity to owns 3,000 free-ranging horses on 500 square miles of land.

“Not only is this RFP in conflict with Nevada law, but also it’s false as advertised,” said Deniz Bolbol, director of Field Operations for the American Wild Horse Campaign, “AWHC has confirmed that no liability insurance is available to a private entity for coverage of 3,000 privately-owned horses free roaming over 500-square miles of habitat that includes thousands of private property parcels, multiple urban areas, highways and other busy thoroughfares.”

“Therefore, only an entity that intends to remove and destroy the horses could possibly assume ownership,” Bolbol continued.

“The NDA set the stage to destroy the Virginia Range horses by wrongfully terminating its community-based Cooperative Agreements  with AWHC for humane management. That’s unconscionable and we will not allow it to stand.”  

The NDA’s attempt to giveaway the Virginia Range horses and protect them as free-roaming horses on the Virginia Range is unworkable for numerous reasons, including:

  •  Legal Issues: Article 4, Section 1 of the Nevada State Constitution states:  “The Legislative authority of this State shall be vested in a Senate and Assembly…”.  By overwhelming bipartisan majorities that legislative authority was properly exercised with the passage of legislation and the subsequent signing into law by Governor Brian Sandoval of NRS Chapter 569.  That statute makes it abundantly clear that ownership in the Virginia Range horse herd is vested in the State of Nevada through the Nevada Department of Agriculture and that management of such herd shall be done in partnership with local organizations.  There is no provision under the law that gives the NDA the right or ability to convey ownership of these horses to a private entity. (See AWHC legal letter here.)
  • Public Oversight: As long as the horses remain under the jurisdiction of the state, the public has input into how they are managed.  The NDA’s request for proposals to give the horses away clearly states that upon the transfer of ownership the NDA and would be absolved of any responsibility for the care or management of the horses.  As a consequence the public would have no say regarding the welfare of these horses. 
  • Liability Issues: AWHC has conducted extensive research into liability insurance for a private entity to take “ownership” of the horses and learned that no insurance company is willing to provide the liability insurance needed for the 3,000 free-roaming horses who live and move throughout the 500-square-mile Virginia Range.

Livestock insurance agents were unable to identify any livestock insurance companies that would provide a quote for full liability coverage. Insurers including Kinsale Insurance Company, James River, Markel Specialty and Lloyds all declined to provide a quote; one agent found one broker that would provide a quote to only cover the horses in limited “non-open range” excluding highways and other roadways.

On October 25, 2017, AWHC received a termination notice from the NDA for the  two Cooperative Agreements between the organization and the State of Nevada for the rescue and humane management of the Virginia Range horses.  AWHC claims the NDA’s termination were unlawful and constitute a breach of those agreements.  Since the termination of the cooperative agreements the NDA is no longer notifying AWHC and its local humane horse organizations partners when Virginia Range horses have been removed from the wild or when these horses are being sent to slaughter.  The NDA’s wrongful termination of the Cooperative Agreements has also halted the successful humane birth control program that AWHC was conducting.  The birth control program instituted by AWHC and its local partners reduced the reproductive rate of Virginia Range horses by approximately 27 percent in 2017 and reflected the prudent forward looking management of the herd implemented through those cooperative agreements.    

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is dedicated to preserving American wild horses and burros in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. Its grassroots mission is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, humane and public interest organizations.


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