Prison ends wild horse program; BLM must remove 1,100 animals

So many questions…why exactly is this program ending if the Federal Government overpaid the prison program to the tune of about 2 million dollars? ~ HfH

From: The Salt Lake Tribune
By: Marissa Lang

Corrections » Funding dispute leads to loss of program that gave inmates skills, therapy.

(Photo by Jim Urquhart | The Salt Lake Tribune) An inmate works with four-year-old horse named Duke at the Wild Horse & Burro Program at the Utah State Prison in Gunnison in July 2010. The prison is ending the program and the Bureau of Land Management must remove the horses.

(Photo by Jim Urquhart | The Salt Lake Tribune) An inmate works with four-year-old horse named Duke at the Wild Horse & Burro Program at the Utah State Prison in Gunnison in July 2010. The prison is ending the program and the Bureau of Land Management must remove the horses.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has 30 days to move more than 1,100 wild horses out of state after the Utah Department of Corrections terminated its Wild Horse & Burro Program, ending a seven-year partnership with the federal agency.

Corrections officials said the program was burning a hole in their budget, that what was meant to be self-sustaining had become a financially unfeasible enterprise.

But BLM insisted Friday that not only had it done its part to support the program at the Gunnison prison in central Utah, but an audit last year revealed the federal government had overpaid Utah by about $2 million since the program’s introduction in April 2007.

Hanging in the balance of this disagreement are 1,126 horses and 11 to 17 inmates who care for the wild mustangs kept on a 40-acre parcel of prison land.

BLM has until Oct. 6 to remove the horses. The agency hasn’t yet determined where they’ll go — areas in Arizona, California and Nevada are being considered to house a majority of the mustangs.

About 50 will stay behind in Axtell, Utah, though the state has nearly 4,000 wild horses — more than double the number the BLM has designated as Utah’s upper limit.

Iron and Beaver county commissioners and ranchers in the Blawn Wash area whose livestock compete for forage have been pushing BLM to bring wild horse numbers down.

But the agency was reluctant to do roundups of wild horses in the West this year due to a low demand for horse adoptions. Nearly 50,000 horses are already being kept in holding pastures in the Midwest.

In late July, BLM removed 143 horses from Beaver County’s Wah Wah Mountains, and during the roundup, a yearling filly and 7-year-old mare died.

Tom Gorey, public information officer for the BLM, declined to get into specifics about where the more than 1,100 horses currently corralled at Gunnison would be going or how they would be moved.

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  • Louie C

    From a FOIA
    28 male horses from the Triple B died at Gunnison Prison.
    All except one was adoption age … so where did all the older sale-authority male horses go?
    Only 26 Sale Authority age geldings made it to LTH out of 1269 horses captured (3 of those reported dead soon after)
    Does anyone else think that it was unlikely that there were only about 26 or 27 male horses over the age of ten out of a total of 1269?

    Dead at Gunnison:
    9 are listed as euthanized due to gelding complications
    8 died unexpected body condition unable to maintain
    4 died/euthanized fracture/injury head
    2 euthanized fractured leg
    1 died unexpected other
    1 died following illness other
    1 died respiratory pneumonia
    1 died following illness colic
    1 euthanized dangerous

    September 6, 2014
  • Daniel Cordero Fernandez

    Obviously, it doesn’t make sense. Sounds to me that, like with the rest of wild horses under BLM care, this became nothing but a money making machine for those who are involved in their presumed care. Wonder where those two million ended up?

    Wouldn’t be surprised if they have been sending horses to auction for slaughter over the years. And why they had to euthanize one because it was aggresive? It is a wild horse, what did they expect? It should have never been there in the first place.

    September 7, 2014
  • LNorman

    I don’t think prisons should be profiting from our wild horses/burros. FRWHBA was to protect our wild ones from being commodities. It has failed.
    Now where will these incarcerated horses go? Scott City, KS corrals?

    September 8, 2014
  • Heather Harris

    I adopted a couple of mustang fillies from BLM about 12 years ago. I didn’t know much about horses and fell in love with their looks. I didn’t know about conformation and how to tell if a horse could be ridden. The girls were about 9 months old and I learned on my own how to tame them and was able to ride one of them, by myself. But the one I could ride couldn’t hold a saddle due to a severe short, sway back (birth defect) and the other one was a severely front hooved, pigeon toed girl who an extreme alpha mare and I never was able to saddle or ride her.
    BLM will sell horses (I paid $125 each) that are not
    able to ever be ridden (although a lot of them are able to be ridden and become fine horses in many different capacities. BLM won’t educate the public on how to evaluate horses or tell them that these horses may not be good for anything other than pets.
    After five years, I had to tearfully turn my girls over to a horse rescue in California. It broke my heart. They were my kids, but I had to sell my land, life happened, and I couldn’t keep them.
    If someone could subsidize hay production, so many people get rid of horses and donkeys because they can’t afford the escalating costs of feed and vet bills.
    If people could be educated that the least expense that they will ever have for a horse is the purchase price. It takes thousands of dollars a year for feed, hundreds of dollars a year for annual and bi-annual vaccinations and god help you if you need some serious veterinary care…….that will e many thousands. Getting their hooves trimmed and/or shod
    will cost another couple of hundred dollars a year, and lets not forget wormers, tack, fencing, housing, education (for you and/or the horse).
    If the horse needs to be put down, or dies, and you don’t have some land and a back hoe, it will cost up to $1000 or more to have the horse euthanized and hauled away and buried.
    Horses need our help, they helped us build this country and have suffered terribly since their introduction to man (except for Native Americans), but purchasing a horse is WAY different from purchasing a dog or cat and people need to do so with their eyes WIDE OPEN.
    The sad thing is that the BLM horses that came from the prison were about the best horses you could find anywhere and it helped not only horses, but the men who trained them. They should NOT discontinue this program, but spread it to other prisons for the sake of horses and mankind.

    September 8, 2014