A wild horse advocacy group has voiced its concerns over infections in captive wild horses held at a short-term holding facility run by the Bureau of Land Management.
Wild Horse Education, a non-profit organization in Nevada that tracks the condition of wild horses and burros on the range and in holding, has asked the bureau to provide immediate medical care and adequate husbandry practices to horses currently held at a the Palomino Valley Center (PVC) north of Reno.
The group said while none of the conditions required emergency response, they required attention.
The center is soon to come out of quarantine following an outbreak of strangles.
“Once the quarantine period ends, animals that test clear of shedding the virus will be shipped to events and other facilities around the nation,” the group, founded by wild horse advocate Laura Leigh, said in a statement.
“However, Wild Horse Education has observed a continual problem with nasal discharge in the PVC horse population.
“There may be some other condition present and lifting the quarantine may be premature.
“The papilloma virus has been spreading through the younger animals.
“Wild horses captured last summer, this past winter, and those born at the facility have been documented with the warts that the virus causes.
“Equine papilloma virus is a highly contagious viral disease, with transmission of the virus occurring via direct contact between horses, or as result of contact with infected equipment. Equines up to the age of 3 to 4 years, due to immature immune systems, are extremely susceptible to this disease; older equines are less susceptible, but are not completely free from risk.
“Once they get the disease warts can form often all over the nose and become bloody and oozing. Who will want to adopt a horse that looks like that, even if the condition is treatable?”
Fungal ringworm has affected animals in the facility for years, it said.
Such factors made the horses unlikely adoption candidates, the group said.
“The problem is not with the personnel at the different facilities, who by the way have recently been cut back again, the problem is with the BLM national policy.”
Responsible practices on the range and in holding seemed to be a low priority for an agency, the group said.
“The very least we can do is immediately find the funding to give basic care to the wild horses in holding to protect them and enhance their chances of being adopted,” Leigh said.