The Department of Agriculture released an RFP yesterday that would transfer ownership of the Virginia Range Herd to a private group. The RFP can be seen at the end of this article. This fate of the herd has provoked passionate discussions on both sides of the fence.
In October 2017, the Department of Agriculture abruptly abandoned their working agreement with the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC). The agreement, originally made with the Return to Freedom (RTF) in 2013, originally covered feral horse adoptions. An additional agreement with RTF was signed in 2015 to include managing the wild horse populations in the Virginia Range area. In 2016, the agreement transferred all responsibilities to AWHPC. The NDA is scrapping these agreements and will seek a consolidated agreement with a single partner.
Supporters of the Virginia Herd have mounted a vocal and energetic campaign to stop this effort. They fear that this new partner will scrap the idea of managing the herd, in favor of relocating the entire population of animals. This new partner could relocate the horses to another part of Nevada. Worse yet, the horses could be sold to slaughterhouses.
Protect The Harvest, Slaughter The Horses?
It is rumored that Protect the Harvest, a non-profit group registered in Missouri and with offices in Indiana will submit a proposal to relocate the herd. Dave Duquette, the group’s strategic planner, told The Teller Protect the Harvest has no interest in taking ownership of the herd.
“There have been a lot of rumors regarding our organization and the fate of the Virginia Range. Protect the Harvest has no desire to be in the management position of these horses,” he said in a conversation with us Monday. “We’re not planning on submitting a proposal, but we encourage all the different wild horse supporters to get together and put one in.”
Deniz Bolbol of the American Wild Horse Campaign told The Teller, “The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) and Governor’s ill-conceived plan to give away the 3,000 Virginia Range wild horses has only one intention: to destroy the horses. The Virginia Range horses are currently the property of the state and people of Nevada; according to state law, the state is not liable for any injury or damage done by the horses.”
“The Governor and his administration completely understand the liability issues involved with owning 3,000 free-roaming wild horses who move across 500 square miles of roadways and private property parcels. Governor Sandoval’s Department of Agriculture is disingenuous when they claim that a private entity could take “ownership” of these 3,000 free-roaming horses and keep them wild and free. No insurance company will issue an insurance policy to cover injury or damage if the horses are privately owned and allowed to continue to move freely on the 500-square-mile Virginia Range,” she explained.
Meanwhile, Brothel Owner, TRIC Executive, and Storey County Commissioner Lance Gilman stepped into the fray when he penned a 2-page letter to Governor Sandoval asking him to “step in and broker a deal” to keep the horses under state control.
“Transferring these horses to private ownership means they are no longer roaming free,” Gilman wrote. Gilman cited Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk recent tweet:
“Our Nevada wild horses are the best emblem we have for that brand,” Gilman wrote. “Everyone coming to TRI notices them, comments about them, and asks about them in a positive light.”
In response to questions about Gilman’s letter, Sandoval reconfirmed he won’t override the decision by the board. It is customary for government types to have their minds made up regardless of how loud the unwashed masses howl. As County Commissioner, Gilman knows this. And as a good politician, he won’t let a good crisis go to waste.
It now seems likely herd will be sold to the highest bidder and removed from the Northern Nevada desert.
A Potential Win-Win Solution
Here at The Teller, we have been critical of Mustang Ranch owner Gilman and his TRIC partner Roger Norman. This criticism is the result of the appearance of Gilman using his position as Marketing Manager and Sole Real Estate Salesman for TRIC and Storey County Commissioner to benefit himself and his business interests at the expense of the Storey County Taxpayer. We have been so critical of this conflict of interest, Gilman has taken us to court to try to get us to shut up.
However, we also recognize the business prowess Lance and Roger posses. The way we see it, now would be a perfect time for Roger Norman and Lance Gilman to do something that would benefit all of Northern Nevada. As we reported recently, TRIC has sold basically all remaining property in a series of deals. The deal with Blockchains.com netted the duo a reported $175 million.
The Storey Teller encourages Gilman and Norman to submit a proposal to take ownership the Virginia Range Herd. This would cement their legacy as men who have grown and protected Northern Nevada. They could also claim ownership of an entity that actually benefits the community.
We encourage Gilman and Norman to show us they aren’t “All Hat, No Cattle”.
Mr. Gilman, step up and put your money where your mouth is and keep the horses home on the range.
Holding our breath.
That’s a good idea for Gilman & Norman, Sam, but they would be fools if they owned, or their corporation owned, those horses. Every person who wanted to make an easy thousand or more would sue them for SOMETHING that a wild horse did to them or their property. AND, if a horse was hit on a road and the driver/passengers killed or injured, can you imagine what the suit would be? This is a very complicated situation.
Gilman and Norman would be wise to make this move as it would cement their legacy in Northern Nevada. However, they will not do it exactly because of what you suggest. Their deep pockets are actually deep enough to deal with the cost of maintaining the herd (vet bills, fencing, watering holes and other expenses) but instead Lance the Magnificent will grandstand this issue pandering to the unaware.
C’mon Sam, be reasonable. You know darn well that if these horses didn’t come with the most giant liability in the world, Gilman & Norman would happily spring for vet bills, fencing, watering holes and other expenses. Look what they did for the Mountain Sheep. Now when have you heard of a Mountain Sheep causing a car accident, ruining someone’s lawn, or trampling an adult or child? I want to state, I AM NOT on the Gilman/Norman team, my only interest in standing up for them is for fairness and truth. The GIANT expense here is the LIABILITY, as I stated in my other comments. Again, do you know ANYONE who would make themselves responsible for ALL the liabilities associated with these horses? As long as they are feral/estray, they come under the state’s fence-out laws, but once they become the property of an individual or entity, the doors are open for MASSIVE suits. For all the money that Gilman and Norman possess, I wouldn’t expect them to want to shoulder the burden of this liability. I don’t know ANYONE who would take on that burden. The NDA needs to retain their “ownership” of these horses, just as they do the deer, game birds, mountain sheep, mountain goats, coyotes, bear, mountain lions, etc., and have a contract with a wild horse group/groups, to manage the horses, which would include birth control.
I was curious about the horses after transfer of ownership, if they’d still be considered feral/estray or domestic?
568.360. Duties of owners of domestic animals with respect to domestic animals upon the highway
2. Any person, firm or corporation negligently allowing a domestic animal to enter within a fenced right of way of a highway is liable for damages caused by a collision between a motor vehicle and the animal occurring on the highway.
What if once they are sold to a private entity, and are no longer feral or estrays, but are private stock/domestic?
NDA has not disputed this claim, and it’s not addressed in the RFP…
The way I understand it, the horses would become private property and thus become a potential liability to the owner. That is why most people who are paying attention to this matter see this as an effort to liquidate the herd.