By Margaret Jackson / NewsBreak Denver
(Canon City, Colo.) A mystery disease killed 57 wild horses in two days at the Canon City Wild Horse facility.
Thousands of horses at the facility are quarantined after the outbreak.
Wild horses at the facility have been infected with an unknown yet highly contagious and sometimes fatal disease, Bureau of Land Management officials said in a news release. The BLM is working with local, state and federal officials to determine the exact cause of death.
There are 2,550 horses at the facility, which is under a voluntary quarantine.
“We are working with local, state and federal officials to determine what is impacting horses in the facility and how we can respond as effectively as possible,” said Stephen Leonard, BLM Colorado Wild Horse and Burro program manager.
Animal activist groups are calling on the BLM to suspend its wild horse gathering operations.
Animal Wellness Action, a group working to prevent animal cruelty, criticized the Wild Horse facility after seeing photos of the packed pens and stressful conditions the formerly wild animals are forced to live in.
“It is unacceptable that the agency charged by federal law to protect and care for these animals can’t even keep them healthy,” said Scott Beckstead, director of campaigns for the Center for Humane Economy. “And it points to the larger problem of this agency’s focus on mass roundups to accommodate more commercial livestock rather than being responsible stewards of our wild herds and the lands they live on.”