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Controversial Herriman horse facility to close

October 18, 2011

Mud problems at Utah's Herriman horse holding facility have proved too difficult to overcome and the centre has been marked for closure.

The Cloud Foundation wild horse advocacy group welcomed the news.

It exposed poor conditions for wild horses and burros at Herriman, outside Salt Lake City, in March last year.

The footage and report, shot and compiled by foundation advocate Lisa Friday, showed horses knee-deep in muck and manure at the facility, operated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Bureau personnel, the Utah state veterinarian, and a federal veterinarian conducted a review, finding that mud was an ongoing problem due to runoff from a hill and advised the bureau to consult an agricultural engineer about ways to improve the problem.

Horse numbers at the facility were reduced to improve the situation in the meantime.

However, remediation work to reduce the mud problem would have proved too difficult and the bureau has outlined a schedule for the centre's closure.

The 100 or so horses remaining at Herriman will be moved to Gunnison and Delta for the winter.

Herriman will reopen next summer, but shut again next autumn.

The plan at this stage is for 2013 to be its final year of operation.

The Cloud Foundation's executive director, Ginger Kathrens, said: "We are pleased BLM is finally taking the formerly wild horses out of the inhumane Utah facility before they would be subjected to another winter.

"But it is regrettable that BLM acted to rectify an inhumane situation only after it was exposed in Lisa's video."

Kathrens maintains that further transparency is needed in order for BLM to regain the trust of the American public, which includes allowing the public access to all short-term and long-term holding facilities on both private and government property.

Many facilities, including all long-term ones, have virtually no public access, as a good number are on private property.

In fiscal year 2011, the bureau spent more than $US48 million to hold more than 41,000 wild horses and burros in these facilities.

Kathrens said there was currently no way for the public to verify the numbers or conditions of the animals in many of these facilities. Nor is there any accurate census of wild horses still remaining on the range.

Using the bureau's own numbers, wild horse advocates maintain there are far fewer horses remaining on the Western ranges than the bureau is reporting.

Kathrens says: "In order to build trust, there must be more transparency in the way BLM is managing America's wild horses and burros both on the range and off."



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