The Nevada Department of Agriculture released a statement Tuesday in response to recent inquiries about horse gathers in south Reno.

It says it receives complaints almost daily about horses in neighborhoods in and around the Virginia Range. Given available resources, NDA says it prefers to let the horses remain in the wild and only gathers Virginia Range horses when the horses present a public safety risk and a risk to themselves.

It says the non-profit Return to Freedom has first right to adopt and place gathered horses at cost.

Because the Virginia Range horses fall under jurisdiction of the state as feral/estray livestock, NDA says it has had to increase gather operations in order to proactively prevent incidences such as horse-vehicle collisions, horses kicking and injuring children and horses getting stuck in fencing and in cattle guards.

The Nevada Department of Agriculture says this has been the standard approach for more than two years.

NDA says it is cooperating with the Washoe County Sheriff's Office and is taking seriously any acts of interference of horse gathers, sabotage (cutting of fences), destruction of property and harassment and intimidation of those who are only wanting to ensure the safety of residents and horses by keeping horses out of neighborhoods and off of public roads.

NDA would also like to remind residents that feeding horses is illegal. Feeding feral/estray horses encourages the animals to enter urban areas and is gross misdemeanor with a fine up to $2,000. NDA has in recent weeks issued two warnings for illegal horse feeding.

For more information on Virginia Range horses, it suggests this fact sheet:

(The Nevada Department of Agriculture contributed to this report.)