CARSON CITY — State and local officials in Nevada said they’re seeing an increasing number of domestic horses being turned loose because their owners can no longer afford to care for them.
But experts warned that domestic horses left to fend for themselves likely will end up being hit by cars, killed by predators or dying of starvation because they lack skills to survive in the wild.
“They have no survival skills at all,” Bonnie Matton, president of the Wild Horse Preservation League, said of domestic horses. “They’ll graze, but they won’t have the protection of the bands.”
Darrell Peterson, a brand inspector with the Nevada Department of Agriculture, said he has picked up six domestic horses in the past few months.
Rather than being adopted by wild bands, domestic horses are often attacked.
“It’s not very often that you find a domestic that is not being torn up or kicked out of the herd,” he said. “They can’t compete for food; they’re not used to that.”
Peterson said it’s not hard to identify an abandoned horse.
“If you drive up and a horse heads for your truck, chances are it’s a domestic horse looking for something to eat,” he said.
Unclaimed domestic horses are sold at the livestock auctions in Fallon and could become saddle horses again or end up being taken to Mexico or Canada to be sold as meat.