The melted snow revealed the toll of recent wild horse-related accidents in Lincoln County.
Diane Bradshaw of Panaca spotted carcasses of five horses adjacent to U.S. 93 over a stretch of several miles. She zeroed in on two horses near mile marker 154 – a mare and a young colt lying near the road next to a pile of gravel. These two horses were hit by cars in separate incidents, according to BLM Ely District Wild Horse and Burro Specialist Ben Noyes.
“It really only got drug off the road to that gravel pit because there was so much snow you couldn’t get off the road anymore than that,” Noyes said.
Other horse deaths have occurred in the area since the first of the year. One horse was struck by an automobile and had to be put down. Another had to be cut out of a cattle guard, and it was euthanized as well.
“There were two more hit in the area, and they’re not far off the road,” Noyes said. “Due to all the snow, there was nowhere really to relocate them.”
He added it is more common to move the dead animals far enough off the road so they are not a distraction to travellers, but the amount of snow in the area when the incidents occurred made it difficult to move them that far. The two near mile marker 154 have since been moved further away from the highway.
The recent emergency wild horse gather conducted by the BLM moved 122 wild horses out of the area to the Axtell Contract Off-range Corrals in Axtell, Utah, where they will be prepared for the BLM’s adoption program. There were two horses in the gather that were so malnourished, they were euthanized, Noyes said, adding the animals likely would not have survived a transport or being left in the county. “When we brought them in, they were really, really weak” and would not be able to live normal lives.
The Record recently reported several horse-related traffic accidents in Lincoln County. Sheriff Kerry Lee and other local officials have expressed concern about the growing number of horses near the highways. Public safety in the north part of the county became an issue more this winter when Lee said there were about half a dozen horse-related auto accidents.
While it is hoped the recent gather will make the roads safer, the broader issue of horse overpopulation remains. According to the BLM’s own estimates, there are over 8,000 wild horses in the Ely District, way over the “appropriate management level” of 810 to 1,695, according to Noyes.
“It’s a constant problem that we’re trying to deal with,” said BLM Ely District spokesperson Chris Hanefeld. “We would encourage folks if they’re seeing horses on the highway, if they’re seeing that there’s a problem developing, please let us know.”