BLM Lists EHV-1 Response Strategies

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) mustangs have so far been unaffected by the recent neurologic equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) outbreak sweeping through Western states, according to a statement issued by the agency on May 26. The agency continues to monitor the outbreak, and has asked the public to contact local BLM offices about outbreak-related restrictions before bringing domestic horses onto agency-managed public lands.

According to the statement, the agency has been working with state and federal animal health officials to protect the mustangs and burros residing on the range and at BLM holding facilities from EHV-1 exposure. As of May 26, no BLM-managed wild horses or burros residing on the range or in holding facilities are known to be affected by the outbreak, the statement said.

In a May 25 letter, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) chief innovations officer Holly Hazard urged BLM Director Robert Abbey to "discourage ... private horse owners from bringing potentially exposed domestic horses onto federal lands where they may contact and possibly infect wild horses or other equines."

In its statement the agency advised horse owners to consult with local BLM offices before bringing their horses onto public lands.

The BLM is consulting with animal health officials on the movement of animals between agency holding facilities or to agency-sponsored events that could put wild horses and burros at risk for EHV-1 exposure, the statement said.

"Some lower-risk movements between BLM facilities or BLM facilities and adoption events will continue," the BLM statement said. "Other movements may be cancelled because of concerns regarding potential exposure to EHV-1."

Movement decisions will be made on a local case-by-case basis after consulting with the BLM's attending veterinarians and the state veterinarians in the area, the statement said.

HSUS wildlife scientist Stephanie Boyles said the organization was unaware that the BLM was preparing its own response to the EHV-1 outbreak when Hazard submitted the letter to the agency.

"We're really pleased that they're working with veterinarians and animal health officials to keep the virus from spreading to America's wild horses," Boyles said.

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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