BLM, Veterinarians Review Utah Facility Conditions

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) personnel, the Utah State Veterinarian, and a veterinarian from the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have reviewed conditions at a wild horse holding facility in Utah after a Colorado-based wild horse advocacy group released a video alleging that horses at the facility were being kept in unsanitary conditions.

The BLM is tasked with managing more than 33,000 free-roaming wild horses and burros that reside on ranges in Western states. The agency also manages another 40,000 horses placed in long- or short-term holding facilities after the animals have been removed from the range during periodic roundups.

Written and video reports prepared by wild horse advocate Lisa Friday in March and released by the Cloud Foundation earlier this month, allege that the animals residing at the Salt Lake Regional Wild Horse and Burro Center in Herriman, Utah, were being kept in muddy, urine-soaked pens, and that some horses experienced difficulty moving through the muck. According to the report, the animals had access to "good supplies" of food and water.

Mitch Snow, spokesman for the BLM office in Utah, said the investigative team visited the facility this week and have filed a full report including recommendations for changes there.

"A full report including the recommendations will be posted on the BLM website," Snow said.

Action on the recommendations may be taken before the full report is released to the public, Snow said.

Carl Arky, director of communications for the Humane Society of Utah, said Humane Society inspector John Fox visited the facility April 11.

"In his investigation he found no violations," Arky said.

Cloud Foundation spokeswoman Anne Novak questioned Fox's findings: "If humane observers in Utah find the BLM's Herriman facility acceptable and the horses in good condition, then they need to read the United States Pony Club Manual of Horsemanship for starters. Clearly the March 15 video shows the ... conditions the wild horses were subjected to on that day."

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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