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Wild horses rounded up from Utah land may be at risk

Posted at 10:21 AM, Mar 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-10 12:44:10-05

AXTELL, Utah — Wild horses rounded up on Utah Bureau of Land Management property are sent to two corrals in the state before they are put up for adoption, but FOX 13 News obtained documents that raise questions about how well these horses are treated.

For the past 50 years, almost 18,000 wild horses and burros have been removed and relocated from public lands that the BLM oversees in the state.

But the Axtell Wild Horse Corral, one of the privately-owned corrals where the horses are sent, raised concerns with the American Wild Horse Campaign, a nonprofit that monitors BLM horse roundups.

"Conditions at these facilities are not stellar at all," said Communications Director Grace Kuhn.

Kuhn filed a Freedom of Information request on the Axtell facility, which showed that 3,552 horses were housed at the location in 2021, with 106 horse deaths primarily from broken necks and colic.

Of the total number, just over 800 horses were adopted or sold, with more than 2,600 horses not included in the reporting, but still at Axtell's corral or in long-term pastures in the Midwest, according to the documents.

“We’re seeing these unnecessary deaths that if these horses had been left out on the range they wouldn’t be dying from such conditions,” said Kuhn.

But BLM spokesperson Lisa Reid said they try their best to prevent any deaths or injuries during these roundups, and she believes the situation would be more dire if they didn't control the wild horse population.

Historically dry conditions have also hurt this population, along with overpopulation and overgrazing.

While the BLM says it is increasing the amount of birth control that’s administered to mares on the range, the American Wild Horse Campaign said they should be distributing more of it.

AWHC told FOX 13 News that Congress passed its omnibus spending bill Wednesday, which provides over $137 million for the Wild Horse and Burro Program. It states that the BLM must use $11 million toward the administration of, and research on, fertility control.