Backyard Mustangs

Hidden Valley’s new n-e-e-ighbors
Equines leave unwelcome gifts in suburban yards
Chuck Coppola | CNN | January 12, 1996

RENO, Nevada (CNN) — On the edge of Reno, Nevada, 30 wild horses have come down from the Virginia range and moved into a development called Hidden Valley. What is not so hidden is the trail of manure the horses leave lying around.

The horses, some of them descendants of wild mustangs, find plenty of water and ornamental shrubs to snack on in Hidden Valley. Some residents say it’s nice to have the creatures moving among them and occasionally peeking in their kitchen windows, but they also say the problems are piling up. “Look at all of this manure. I don’t think it enhances the neighborhood any, do you?” a resident says.

Resident Helen Small isn’t a pony pal either. “They’re an annoyance. They’re not safe. I don’t think it’s good for the children. The droppings are very unhealthful,” she says.

Many homeowners have strung rope across their yards and driveways to keep the horses out. Some are even appealing to the horses directly and have made signs asking them to keep off their grass, but it is doubtful that the horses have bothered to read them.

Mary Savage, who likes the horses, suggests a compromise. “What we want to do is put a fence in place so they cannot come down into the valley. And if we want to help them with water and food, we’ll get it to them,” Savage says.

A fence at the base of the hills may be the solution, but then the question becomes: Who’s going to build it and pay for it? Some homeowners think it’s not their responsibility. The county is concerned that if it builds a fence in Hidden Valley, it will have to build fences around other communities where wild horses wander.

The state agriculture department has told people that it doesn’t have the staff to deal with the problem. The Bureau of Land Management, which looks after wild horses on public land, says that it’s not responsible in this case because the horses are on private land. “These horses do not come from a herd management area. In fact, the nearest herd management area is 50 to 60 miles away,” says Maxine Shane with the BLM.

Homeowner Bobbi Royle wants to protect the horses. “We don’t want someone coming in, just grabbing the horses. That’s not going to solve it. This is not a horse problem. This is a people problem,” she says.

Full article: Hidden Valley’s new n-e-e-ighbors