MOUND HOUSE - An accident Friday morning between a vehicle and a wild horse caused a state livestock inspector to shoot and kill the injured mustang as motorists passed by.
"I didn't have any choice because there was a fence line there. That's why I had to do it in front of everyone," said Nevada Department of Agriculture livestock inspector Mike Holmes.
Sergio Colome, of Stagecoach, was westbound on Highway 50 East at 6:30 a.m. when the wild horse attempted to cross the highway.
"The driver said the horse was up on the side of the road and it just ran right out in front of him trying to get to a mare on the south side of the highway," said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Mark Zacha.
Colome was uninjured in the collision, but the horse suffered a severe broken leg.
"Even if a vet could come out, I don't know how you can treat a leg that shattered like that," Zacha said. "We did the most humane thing we could."
Bob Beattie of Gardnerville said he was driving by the scene near the Carson City and Lyon County line as Holmes fired a shot at the horse.
"He hit him and the horse reared up, ran to the east, got 50 feet or so and stopped by a car parked there," Beattie said. "I thought the horse was going to maybe run into the street in front of traffic."
Zacha said Holmes had the same concern and fired another shot before the horse could bolt into traffic.
Holmes said shooting between the eyes is the ideal way to put down an injured animal, but the location of the horse would have caused Holmes to aim into traffic. He decided instead to aim for the lung.
"This year I've probably put down a half dozen horses due to injuries to vehicles, or the West Nile virus," he said. "People need to stop feeding these horses. Between the feeding and the watering that's why they're down here."
The Bureau of Land Management estimates 32,290 wild horses roam on public lands across the Western United States. More than half of them - 17,679 - are in Nevada, and 14,000 remain in seven BLM long-term holding facilities in Kansas and Oklahoma.
Contact reporter F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.