June 13, 2022

Congressman Neguse Calls on BLM to Delay and Reevaluate Wild Horse Roundup Following Disease Outbreak at State Facility

 A recent outbreak at the Cañon City holding facility resulted in the deaths of 145 federally-protected wild horses.

Lafayette, CO – Today, Congressman Joe Neguse, Chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, wrote to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Tracy Stone-Manning and acting Colorado State Director Stephanie Connolly requesting the agency delay and reevaluate Colorado’s next wild horse roundup in the Piceance Basin following a recent disease outbreak at the Cañon City holding facility.

“The fatal disease outbreak at the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse facility in Cañon City is deeply concerning and recent findings regarding the same are simply unacceptable. Wild horses are vital to the biodiversity of the American West. As a member of the Natural Resources Committee and an advocate for animal welfare and reforms, I am continuing to monitor the outbreak and working with local and state officials to ensure the health and humane treatment of the horses in Cañon City.” said Congressman Joe Neguse. 

Neguse has been a champion for increasing protection for Colorado wildlife, working with both the BLM and the Department of Interior to improve supervision of the state’s wild horse population.

“I write today to express my concern over the deaths of 145 wild horses at the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Cañon City Wild Horse facility. Although it is encouraging that the mortality rate is declining, I am deeply concerned about BLM moving forward with the Piceance Basin roundup. The recent outbreak at the Cañon City facility has sparked legitimate questions regarding the conditions of wild horses in holding facilities that must be answered before more horses are put into dangerous environments. It is, therefore, important to delay the Piceance Basin horse roundup until an investigation is completed to ensure the biosecurity failures that led to the Cañon City facility outbreak will not be repeated.” reads the letter from Congressman Neguse. 

The letter continues: “As you may know, there is a consensus among veterinarians and experts at the Animal Health Division at the Colorado Department of Agriculture, as well as institutions such as Colorado State University, the University of Kentucky, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, that the stress of confinement coupled with the dusty conditions at the Cañon City facility made basic care too stressful to administer vaccines. For the 2,950 wild horses that remain in this facility, preventing the spread of infection will be difficult. If the Piceance Basin round-up were to continue as planned, more wild horses would face similar exposure to infection, which may prompt a new outbreak.”

The Wild Horse facility in Cañon City currently holds 2,550 horses. The outbreak, which started on April 23rd, is now considered to be the deadliest in recent BLM history. The contagion has been identified as the Equine Influenza Virus (EIV), a virus that is routinely vaccinated against in the equine world and is included in the BLM’s vaccine regimen for captured animals.

Read the full letter HERE