RENO, Nev., Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Authorities in Nevada say an increasing number of domestic horses are being abandoned by their owners because of the worsening economy.
The horses are being turned loose to fend for themselves, but lack of survival skills and often end up being killed by predators, hit by cars or dying of starvation, said Darrell Peterson, a brand inspector for the Nevada Department of Agriculture.
Abandoned domestic horses have little chance of being adopted by wild bands of horses and often are attacked by them, said Peterson, noting he has picked up six domestic horses in recent months.
"It's not very often that you find a domestic that is not being torn up or kicked out of the herd," Peterson told the Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal.
Unclaimed domestic horses are sold at livestock auctions and face two options: becoming saddle horses again or being sold to slaughter houses in Mexico or Canada, he said, noting it is illegal to abandon a domestic horse and carries a fine of as much as $1,000.