By Pat Raia, The Horse
Nearly 60 Mustangs died after being moved from an open pasture to a corral facility last week, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said.
Paul McGuire, BLM spokesman, said the agency was notified in March that the owner of the open pasture near El Dorado, Kansas, would not renew its contract. So, in June, 1,493 animals were moved from the pasture to a corral facility near Scott City, Kansas, McGuire said. In August, the corral facility's contractor notified the BLM that between June 22 and Aug. 5, a group of transferred mares had died, McGuire said; As of Aug. 15, 57 mares, ages 15 to 19 years, had died, he said.
“As of Aug. 11, the BLM ordered a team of experts out to Kansas to investigate,” McGuire said.
McGuire said the investigative team includes BLM personnel and a USDA veterinarian.
During the investigation, the veterinarian determined that the animals had died as a result of age and stress related to the relocation, McGuire said. A shift in feed from pasture grass to processed hay was also blamed for the deaths, he added.
“They just didn't do well in the corral environment,” McGuire said. “There was no indication of infectious or contagious diseases as causing the deaths.”
During the investigation, the veterinarian also determined that a group of other mares likely would not survive, McGuire said.
“They had not been taking food or water for some time and the veterinarian determined that they had little or no chance to survive,” McGuire said.
Those 13 mares were subsequently euthanized, McGuire said.
In a written statement Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, said she believes the BLM's treatment wild horses is below what American expect.
“This is a graphic example of why this federal program is irreparably broken and in need of reform,” Roy opined.
Meanwhile, McGuire said veterinarians have increased the amount of feed given to the surviving relocated horses and have increased the ratio of alfalfa to grass in the hay mix fed to those animals.
The investigative team will remain at the corral facility until the end of August, McGuire said.