Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wild Horse and Burro Facility, Delta, Utah

In November I wrote about a wild horse roundup, and I figured it was time to follow up with what happens to those horses after they're rounded up. I visited the wild horse and burro adoption facility located in Delta, Utah. This is one of 23 holding facilities in the U.S., with a total capacity of 15,295 horses and burros. About 58% of the horses are between 0-4 years old, 26% between 5-10 years, 6% over 11 years, and the remainder unknown.

The Delta facility has a capacity of 300 horses, but according to the latest online monthly report about horse holding facilities, it is currently holding 320 horses. There was a well-advertised adoption held at the Delta Facility in late January, but only 8 horses were adopted. That's pretty pathetic. It's understandable, though. Most horse lovers already have the horses they can afford. With the current economic condition, feeding a horse puts a large drain on a budget. Under current laws, horses can't be killed, so once a person buys a horse they're stuck with it unless they can find someone to buy it. Many people who think about getting a horse are scared off by that.

That means that the unwanted horses are put into long-term holding facilities. There are 11 of these facilities, primarily in Oklahoma and Kansas, with a total capacity of 22,100 horses and burros. As of 2/01/2009, there were 22,203 horses in them. 

So that means that the long-term holding facilities are maxed out. Some of the short-term facilities like Delta are maxed out. Where do the horses go then?
The BLM acknowledges it has a problem--in 2008 it spent $27 million for horses in holding facilities. The General Accounting Office has made some recommendations to the BLM--largely that they work with Congress to get new laws passed to figure out ways to humanely deal with these unwanted horses.

Meanwhile, the horses still have to be fed, paid for by our tax dollars. 

If the horses are left out on the range, there will be large-scale ecological consequences, like trampling of springs, overgrazing, and possibly additional disease. 

Thinking about this issue is kind of frustrating, because there is no easy solution. But it can't be ignored just because it's difficult. 


The Incredible Woody said...

Is there an answer?

Laurel Covington said...

Get the government to establish some land in the wild and let them run free. Humanely sterilize them.Tell the ranchers and all their lobbyist and paid of government reps. to back off. I can dream can't I!

Tree Thuggers said...

I would love to visit these facilities!

Do you remember a few years ago there used to be programs for federal inmates to train wild horses. It was wildly successful (in terms of therapy), but sadly terminated. :( I'd love to have that reignited. I only heard about it when I saw an article about the program ending.

Also!!! When I came to your website, I was really hooked by a lot of spam windows and warnings of viruses and things. I had to REALLY want to read this article and do a lot of back windowing and fearing for the safety of my phone (several windows popped up claiming it was Apple telling me I had just been compromised and so must download X).

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