Remembering Nancy Killian, Wild Horse Advocate

(Jun 22, 2023) In December, our community lost Nancy Killian, wild horse advocate extraordinaire, president of the Virginia Range Wildlife Protection Association (VRWPA), and longtime American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) volunteer.  She is survived by her husband John, her daughters Brei and Chelsea, her granddaughters, and to all her dear friends and fellow members of the AWHC Virginia Range fertility control team.

When Nancy retired to the Reno area from Minnesota, she became a passionate advocate for the wild horses and wildlife that roamed the mountains and valleys around her new home. She was a pioneer of AWHC’s groundbreaking fertility control darting program for the Virginia Range horses, beginning in its infancy in 2015 and continuing until she got sick in April of this year. Nancy was the first member of our 1,000 Club, delivering over 1,000 treatments to wild mares to slow reproduction in this population that is challenged by habitat loss due to development. 

Formerly an interior decorator, Nancy brought her own unique style to the job. She was often seen out on the range with her iconic look of perfectly coiffed hair, shorts, and snake boots, driving her ATV or the AWHC Jeep, tracking down a mare who needed to be darted. Along with her friend and fellow darter Elena, she kept the wild horse population in the Virginia City Highlands in check, ensuring that none would be captured and removed. These were her horses and she was committed to doing what it took to keep them wild. In that, she succeeded. Nancy’s spirit lives on in the work that we do and in the wild horses who run free thanks to her compassion, dedication, and hard work.

How to Honor Nancy's Legacy

VRWPA owns property in the Virginia City Highlands and is creating the Nancy Killian Memorial Garden and Wildlife Viewing Area with the help of a local Boy Scout, Ashton who is working toward his Eagle Scout Badge.


Ashton created plans for the project, and along with fellow Boy Scouts, VRWPA volunteers, and local friends, they have set fence posts, are building raised beds, creating landscaping features, and more. It promises to be a lovely tribute to Nancy and some of what she loved best about living amongst, and protecting, the area’s wildlife (including Virginia Range horses!). AWHC was proud to be able to grant $5,000 towards the completion of the memorial garden. You can donate to support the project through their website at