L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Category: Horses

North Carolina wild horse population faces an uncertain future

Corolla wild horses

COROLLA, N.C. — On a stretch of barrier island without paved roads, some of the last wild horses in the Eastern U.S. are seeing their world get smaller each year.

A boom in vacation homes in the last 25 years in this remote place has seen the descendants of colonial Spanish mustangs confined to a 7,500-acre sanctuary on the northern tip of North Carolina's Outer Banks. And now the herd itself may shrink along with its habitat.

A plan backed by the federal government would see the herd reduced from about 115 horses today to no more than 60 in a bid to stop the animals, designated North Carolina's state horse this year, from competing with federally protected birds for increasingly hard-to-come-by resources.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says the plan will reduce harmful behavior by a species it considers a nuisance. But residents who rely on the horses to bring in tourist dollars or who simply cherish the mustangs as a symbol of the country's spirit worry it could bring about the collapse of the herd through hereditary diseases and other complications of a shallow gene pool.

"The American wild horse is disappearing from our country," said Karen McCalpin, executive director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, a nonprofit group that manages the herd. "To me, they're as much a symbol of freedom as the bald eagle."

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Your morning adorable: Miniature horse foal plays ball

We are beyond smitten with Patch, a miniature horse foal who, at the tender age of two weeks, already has soccer skills that giant pandas can only dream of. Patch's toy of choice is an inflatable exercise ball, which only looks giant because he's so tiny himself.

We just can't get enough of horses -- be they miniature or full-size -- who don't let the fact that they have four legs and lack opposable thumbs get in the way of their fun. (Little Patch reminds us of a larger, grown-up horse we are equally fond of, a pinto named Chief who loves to play with makeshift toys such as traffic cones and bags.)

According to Patch's owner, YouTube user elfie524, this spunky little foal has earned himself quite a fan club. "Everyone that works with him (the vet, the farrier) remarks on his doglike character," elfie says. (A farrier is the person who cares for Patch's hooves.) We certainly share these folks' admiration for this adorable, fun-loving little fellow!

RELATED CUTE FOALS:
Your morning adorable: Miniature horse foal Einstein may be the world's tiniest horse
Your morning adorable: Zebra foal frolics at Munich's Hellabrunn Zoo

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video credit: elfie524 via YouTube

Animal control officers seek public's help in case of emaciated horse dumped on South Gate street

Horse dumped in South Gate

The Southeast Area Animal Control Authority is asking for the public's help in locating the person or persons responsible for dumping a severely emaciated horse on a South Gate street last month.

Animal control officers received a call notifying them that a female horse was lying near the gutter in the 5400 block of Gardendale Street, near Gardendale Park, just after 6 a.m. on July 22. No one has come forward to report who abandoned the horse there, but a witness did recall seeing a dark SUV pulling a light-colored horse trailer in the area about 1 a.m. It's unclear if the SUV and trailer are related to the horse-dumping incident.

When officers arrived, the horse was motionless but alive. "An officer took an apple from her lunch and fed it to the horse, and she was so excited to receive this treat," said Aaron Reyes, the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority's director of operations. "Two neighbors brought a small amount of hay and fresh water and the horse clearly enjoyed it for as long as she could keep her head up."

An equine veterinarian rushed to the scene, but found the horse in such poor condition that she was euthanized to end her suffering.

A reward of $7,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for dumping the horse is being offered by the Humane Society of the United States, EAG Sports Management Chief Executive Denise White and Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. Anyone with information is urged to call the animal control authority's investigators at (562) 803-3301, Ext. 229.

RELATED ANIMAL CRUELTY NEWS:
Colorado woman who taped dog to refrigerator receives 30-day jail sentence, probation
Monty, dog shot and left near death, is on the road to recovery thanks to rescuers

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo credit: Southeast Area Animal Control Authority

Bureau of Land Management investigates death of foal whose body was found near roundup area

Wild horse roundup

RENO, Nev. — Federal agents at a contentious wild horse roundup on the California-Nevada line are investigating the death of a young mustang that may have been shot before the government this week began gathering 2,000 animals from herds it says are causing ecological damage to public range land.

The Bureau of Land Management is "actively investigating," but it hasn't determined the cause of death of the foal that a wildlife biologist from a horse protection group found Wednesday near the roundup, bureau  officials said Friday.

"BLM rangers did an initial site inspection and observed the animal appeared to have been dead for some time, preceding the start of the gather," said Jan Bedrosian, the bureau's deputy state director for California. "BLM special agents are actively pursuing the case as to the cause of death."

The bureau plans to round up 2,000 horses over the next month because it believes the range cannot sustain the overpopulated herds in the Twin Peaks Horse Management Area about 120 miles northwest of Reno.

Critics argue that the horses have more of a legal right to be there than the thousands of head of livestock grazing under bureau permits, but that argument has been largely unsuccessful in court. On Tuesday, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to halt the roundup with an emergency stay sought by In Defense of Animals and others.

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Court rejects stay sought by wild horse advocates, allows California and Nevada roundup to commence

Wild horse roundup

RENO, Nev. — A federal appeals court on Tuesday cleared the way for the roundup of more than 2,000 wild horses in California and Nevada, rejecting critics' claims that the free-roaming mustangs have a legal right to remain on the range.

In an after-hours order, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco refused to grant an emergency stay sought by animal rights groups ahead of the scheduled roundup Wednesday.

The order came as lawyers for the Obama administration mounted their most vigorous defense to date for rounding up wild horses in the West, arguing in court filings that leaving the overpopulated herds on public rangeland would do the mustangs more harm than good.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Ignacia Moreno said in a court filing that the range cannot support the current population of horses, whose numbers were expected to grow. "The growing population of wild horses will have devastating impacts on the other resources in the area and on the wild horses themselves," Moreno wrote.

Justice Department lawyers were defending the roundup on behalf of the Bureau of Land Management and its plans to begin its biggest roundup of the year along the California-Nevada border, about 120 miles north of Reno. That number represents up to 80 percent of the existing herd.

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34 wild horses died in recent Nevada roundup, Bureau of Land Management says

Mustangs

RENO, Nev. — Federal officials confirmed Wednesday that 34 wild horses died or were euthanized during a roundup of animals from parched rangeland in Nevada, sparking fresh criticism from horse protection advocates pressing the Obama administration to suspend such operations.

Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman JoLynn Worley said 1,224 wild horses were collected in pens during the Tuscarora wild horse gather that concluded Monday outside the Rock Creek Herd Management Area, or HMA, in northeastern Nevada's Elko County.

In addition to the 34 horses that died, two more were put down after they were found injured by a contractor herding more than two dozen wild horses away from a steep cliff, Worley said Wednesday.

The BLM characterizes its ongoing horse and burro roundups as emergency operations made necessary by drought and overpopulation on public and private lands. For a week in mid-July, the agency hauled 46,000 gallons of water to dehydrated herds in a neighboring HMA.

Opponents say the policy aims to make room for livestock grazing and energy interests in a region where they claim much larger herds of mustangs once flourished.

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Pennsylvania racehorse trainer accused of giving horses performance-enhancing drugs

Racehorse

GRANTVILLE, Pa. — A Pennsylvania horse trainer was charged Wednesday with trying to rig races at Penn National Race Course by injecting horses with performance-enhancing drugs.

State police charged Darryl Delahoussaye, 47, of Harrisburg, with rigging a publicly exhibited contest, administering drugs to race horses, tampering with evidence and theft. Court records also spell his first name Darrel.

A Dauphin County grand jury investigation concluded that Delahoussaye gave horses banned items -- including snake venom and an anti-inflammatory substance -- before they raced at the track outside Harrisburg.

He also was charged with reselling three injured horses after promising they would be retired to a petting zoo, but at least one of those horses subsequently raced three times in Massachusetts, according to the grand jury report issued Friday.

State police said Delahoussaye had two employees remove evidence from a barn at Penn National in an attempt to foil investigators.

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Judge rules to allow Bureau of Land Management wild-horse roundup to resume in Nevada

Wild horses

RENO, Nev. — A government roundup of wild horses can resume in Nevada, a judge ruled Friday, dealing a setback to animal rights activists who had hoped to halt it after 13 mustangs died.

Federal land managers hailed U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks' order, warning that more than 500 horses in northern Elko County could die of dehydration in the next week if the roundup didn't continue. On Wednesday, Hicks issued an emergency order stopping the roundup.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Doran Sanchez said that the condition of the horses was  "deteriorating rapidly" and that the roundup would resume Saturday morning. BLM officials blame the deaths on the drought and not the roundup.

"We have a major crisis here, and given the critical condition the animals are in, we could lose a lot of animals," Sanchez said. "Our main goal is to save as many animals as possible given the extreme emergency conditions."

But activists have expressed outrage over the roundup, saying the deaths were predictable, given the hot summer temperatures and the weakened state of foals and the mares that recently gave birth or were about to do so.

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Hearing scheduled on restraining order sought by wild horse advocates to stop Nevada roundup

Wildhorses CARSON CITY, Nev. — A federal judge has scheduled an emergency hearing on a temporary restraining order sought by animal rights advocates to halt a wild horse roundup in northeast Nevada.

U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks will hear arguments Thursday in Reno.

The Bureau of Land Management suspended the gather in northern Elko County over the weekend when seven horses died of dehydration and water intoxication after being herded by helicopter on the first day of the roundup. Another horse broke a leg and was put down.

Laura Leigh, a writer and wild horse advocate, filed a lawsuit Friday and followed with a motion for a temporary restraining order to stop the roundup.

The BLM says the roundups are needed because the horses are running out of food and damaging the range.

RELATED HORSE NEWS:
Wild horse advocates team with California winery owner to purchase 172 horses at auction
At home on the range (January 2010 opinion article by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar)

-- Associated Press

Photo: Wild horses graze in Nevada in 2009. Credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times

Northeast Nevada wild horse roundup suspended after mustangs die

Mustangs

CARSON CITY, Nev. — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management suspended a wild horse roundup in northeast Nevada on Monday after seven animals died of dehydration and another was shot after it broke its leg in a holding pen.

Animal rights activists were outraged, saying the outcome was predicable given the sweltering temperatures and helicopters used to gather the animals.

The BLM said the animals appeared in otherwise good shape when two groups were herded by helicopter to holding pens in northern Elko County on Saturday. But the roundup was halted Sunday morning after four horses were found dead in the pens and others showed signs of colic and brain swelling.

In all, seven died of what the BLM called dehydration and complications from "water intoxication" that can occur when dehydrated animals drink excessive amounts of water.

BLM Director Bob Abbey said that the agency was committed to treating the animals humanely and that the roundup was suspended so "options for minimizing mortality of horses weakened by dehydration can be assessed."

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