The Virginia Range horses are an intriguing component of our Northern Nevada landscape.
Most of these animals are descendants of horses used by early Nevadans in the development of our state and during the gold rush. Living for generations in the Comstock National Historic District and surrounding ranges, they are modern day reminders of Nevada's rich history.
The region surrounding the Comstock has been under great pressure as urban development consumes what was once open space.
The Virginia Range herd is feeling this pressure. Historically, the field-active wild horse groups have played a significant role in developing resources for the horses and mitigating conflicts between the horses and human activities.
Over the years, we have experienced cycles where politicians and bureaucrats felt the need to seize total control with the faulty notion that government is the only entity possessing the knowledge and resources to manage our affairs.
More bureaucratic control usually produces less relevance, less efficiency and higher costs to us taxpayers.
We are presently experiencing another round of bureaucratic empire building in the Nevada Department of Agriculture, complete with the typical unnecessary waste of our tax dollars. Recent decisions have led to a breakdown in the privately funded support system for the Virginia Range herd. Costs are spiraling and the herd is at risk.
In some instances, even the public is being put at risk. A recent rash of horses being struck on U.S. 50 can be directly attributed to bureaucratic decisions that eliminated the involvement of regional horse groups in activities designed to keep horses away from our highways and in keeping the wildlife deterrent reflectors alongside that highway in operational condition.
We are at a crossroads with respect to our Virginia Range horses. If we really want to preserve the Virginia Range herd, "We the People" need to hold our public agencies accountable and demand intelligent management of these animals, and intelligent management involves a lot more than just throwing more of our tax dollars at a problem.
The region's wild horse groups have walked the walk. Now it's time for folks whose salaries we pay to do likewise.