BLM to Close Herriman Wild Horse Holding Facility

TheBureau of Land Management (BLM) has elected to temporarily close a wild horse and burro holding facility that wild horse advocates alleged constituted an unhealthy environment for animals. This decision came after a BLM investigation determined it would be nearly infeasible to improve the muddy conditions at the center of the complaints.

In April the wild horse advocacy group The Cloud Foundation released written and video reports prepared by advocate Lisa Friday alleging that the animals at the Salt Lake 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.

Subsequently, BLM personnel, the Utah state veterinarian, and a veterinarian from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reviewed the Herriman facility. In their report the review team concluded that muddy conditions were an ongoing problem at the facility and advised the BLM to consult an agricultural engineer about ways to mitigate the problem.

Agency Spokesman Mitch Snow said the decision to close the facility was based on review results.

"The closure is related to the subsequent investigation by the BLM which found that the mud was an ongoing problem," Snow said. "The engineer concluded that the geographic situation was basically untenable."

On Oct. 12, 64 of the 200 horses residing at the Herriman facility were transferred to a BLM facility in Gunnison, Utah, Snow said. The remainder will be transported elsewhere later this month.

The agency has not yet determined when the facility will close permanently, Snow said.

Cloud Foundation Executive Director Ginger Kathrens said that while she is pleased the animals won't spend another winter at the Herriman facility, she believes the BLM should have been more attentive to issues there prior to the Friday report release.

"Why did we have to blow the whistle with Lisa Friday's video report on the horrible conditions at the Salt Lake facility?" Kathrens said. "We want to know why BLM kept them in the mud and manure in the first place."

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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