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Release Date: 12/07/12
Contacts: Steven Hall, Colorado Communications Director, 303-239-3672    
  Lauren Gapinski, Public Affairs Specialist, 303-236-0480    

BLM Colorado Continues to Investigate Wild Horse Deaths - No Additional Deaths Reported, Condition of Animals Improving

Cañon City, Colo. – The Bureau of Land Management continues to investigate the deaths of 19 wild horses at its Cañon City Wild Horse Inmate Program facility.


To date, 19 horses have died and 9 other horses have shown some signs of a neurologic problem causing weakness, incoordination or seizures. No animals have died since Dec. 4 and no new cases have been reported since Dec. 5.

Several horses that exhibited symptoms earlier in the week have shown marked improvement and now appear to be recovering. With just over 2,000 horses and 400 burros at the facility, the illness remains confined to just one pen containing 110 horses.

Although the exact cause of the problem remains unknown, the BLM is still working with local, state and federal veterinarians as well as pathologists at Colorado State University to diagnose the illness. Six animals have been autopsied, but so far, the general results of those examinations have been inconclusive. Samples taken from animals at the facility and from those animals autopsied are still being examined. The pattern of the cases so far suggests it is not an infectious or contagious disease, but that possibility along with the possibility that weeds or other toxins may have been accidently ingested along with hay are being investigated. Laboratory testing is expected to continue through next week when the BLM and animal health officials will revisit the situation and decide the best course of action to protect the health and well-being of the wild horses and burros.

The BLM will release additional information as it becomes available.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

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Last updated: 12-08-2012