Salt Lake Tribune: Two wild horses die at Utah roundup

Protect Mustangs . org & Photo © Taylor James

(Photo © Taylor James)

By Kristen Moulton | The Salt Lake Tribune

Published Jul 31 2014

A yearling mustang ran into a corral panel and died after she was rounded up on Utah’s west desert Wednesday, according to a Bureau of Land Management report.

The BLM also had to euthanize a 7-year-old mare that had previously fractured her right rear leg, the BLM’s Blawn Wash Gather website said.

The BLM is removing 140 wild horses this week from the Wah Wah Mountains in Beaver County, its only roundup of the year in Utah.

The BLM uses a contractor whose pilots fly helicopters over the area until they find a small band of horses. A chopper then “herds” the running horses into a corral temporarily set up on the range.

The horses are then loaded into trucks and taken to another corral, in this case, on a nearby ranch. That is apparently where the filly died Wednesday.

In a text message to a wild horse advocate, BLM spokeswoman Lisa Reid said the young horse died on impact when she ran into a corral panel. Reid could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

Anne Novak, executive director of the organization Protect Mustangs, criticized the BLM for the loss of the horses.

The yearling “was obviously terrified by the whole ordeal,” Novak said in an emailed statement. “Once they are terrified, the risk of injury is high. The BLM needs to train their staff to understand wild horse behavior so tragedies like this will never happen again.”

She also said the BLM was wrong to put down the 7-year-old mare whose broken leg had healed but who apparently was left with a deformed leg and protruding hip.

“The BLM should have made an effort to give her the best veterinary care possible. Horses heal and this mare had already recovered from an injury in the wild,” Novak said. “I’m sure someone would have adopted her to help her get well.”

The horses are being taken from an area that includes a large piece of state lands that were seeded over the decades with grass for livestock and are a magnet for the wild horses. The BLM’s management plan calls for no horses to be there, although they have ranged there for more than 100 years.

The roundup began Monday, and through Wednesday, the BLM had removed 101 horses, according to the website. They’re being trucked to the Central Utah Correctional Facility at Gunnison, where they’ll be examined, vaccinated and prepared for adoption. The prison inmates may keep some for training.

Even after the 140 horses are removed, Gus Warr, the agency’s manager for wild horses and burros in Utah, figured more than 100 would remain in the Blawn Wash area. Utah has nearly 4,000 wild horses, more than double the number the BLM has set as the upper limit.

Ranchers in the region sued the BLM, and county commissioners in Iron and Beaver counties threatened their own roundups if the agency did not reduce the numbers of wild horses.

Besides the Blawn Wash roundup, the BLM has trapped 25 horses and intends to trap 25 more when they go for water on private land in Iron County. The agency also plans to remove 10 from along State Route 21 in Beaver County, near Nevada.

No further information was immediately available Thursday on the animals that died Wednesday. The yearling filly who died after hitting the corral panel was gray and in good condition, the report said. The mare was a sorrel, with a body condition rated as fair.

Cross-posted from the Salt Lake Tribune: for educational purposes only