Kathy McKinstry, a rangeland management specialist with the Bureau of Land Management’s Little Snake Field Office in Craig, said releasing domestic horses into the wild is wrong.
“People may think they are doing their domestic horse a favor by abandoning it near wild horses,” McKinstry said. “The harsh reality is that most likely their pets will die a cruel and painful death through starvation or dehydration.”
The statement, issued in a news release Wednesday from the BLM, is in response to two recent incidents in Moffat County.
Since summer 2010, two abandoned domestic horses have been found in the Sand Wash Herd Management Area — a 160,000-acre area north of Maybell. The area has been set aside for a healthy herd of wild horses, and is managed by the BLM.
When abandoned domestic horses are found, they are typically captured by BLM managers and turned over to the State of Colorado, according to the release.
In the first instance, a small sorrel gelding was captured during the summer of 2010. According to the news release, the horse was very tired and thirsty. It was turned over to the state, which was able to find a home for it.
In the second instance, a domestic sorrel and white paint mare was spotted in October. Thus far, the BLM has been unable to capture the mare, according to the release.
“If it survives the winter, we’ll have to reassess our options,” McKinstry said in the release.
Abandoning horses is illegal, McKinstry said in the release. And, it’s inhumane.
According to the news release, domestic horses are ill adapted to foraging for food and avoiding predators. Also, domestic horses are often ostracized by wild horses.
“The chances of a slow and painful death for an abandoned domestic horse are high,” the news release states.
Abandoned domestic horses can also introduce disease to a wild horse herd, increasing the risk of a catastrophic die-off.
The BLM urges citizens to act responsibly and humanely in caring for their animals.
“If you are struggling with adequate care of large animals, don’t wait until it’s too late,” the news release states. “Place an ad in your local paper to find another owner.
“If it is an older animal with health issues, have it humanely euthanized.”
The BLM also advises searching for rescue organizations online.
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