It is claimed that Nevada is home to over half the estimated 2,000-3,000 wild horse on the nation’s rangelands. Yet, according to BLM’s own estimated numbers, in Nevada alone, there are 30,210 wild horses roaming free.
Some of those are in Lincoln County and County Sheriff Kerry Lee said there has been a big problem as of late.
“In the past couple of weeks,” he said, “we have had several horse-vehicle collisions only about a mile south of the Pioche Junction, just a little bit before after you come into the open after passing the Pioche billboard heading north on U.S. 93. You can still see the stains on the highway from some of the collisions.”
No major injuries have occurred yet, he said, but it might just be a matter of time. It has involved both county and out-of-county citizens. “It can happen at any time of day or night. It’s getting out of control; they are hanging out right on the highway,” Lee said. “With the snow on the ground in the area, they seem to hang around the highway more. We have chased them off the road, called the BLM to do the same, but they continue to come back. They graze along that burned area near the road. It has become a real problem. We have also had a band for several years running in an area north of Pioche.”
The BLM has tried at times to round up some of the horses, but are unable to trap enough to really make a difference and keep the populations down.
Lee said during the drought the county has been in for quite some time, it continues to be difficult with BLM demanding cattle be taken off rangeland, “but they are not removing the horses,” who continue to populate and use up the water intended for cattle.
“Some of it is not always the BLM’s fault,” Lee said. “They have to fight against the environmental groups that don’t want any horses removed, just let them run free and overpopulate and overpopulate.”
As the problem continues, he said, “Now you have an actual danger to the traveling public and you are at risk of hitting one of the horses. Fire and EMS, Sheriff’s Department, Highway Patrol. have all been involved in these calls. It’s becoming really frustrating.”
He added, “If you are driving a small car and hit a big horse, it is easily going to major damage to the vehicle and possible bodily injury.”
He said in 2014, a deputy responding to a major call hit a horse in the same area around Pioche and caused $9,000 damage to the patrol vehicle.