Wild horses discovered dead at prison facility

BLM: Widespread disease not likely

POSTED: 08:08 PM MST Dec 06, 2012    UPDATED: 08:08 PM MST Dec 06, 2012 
Wild Horse and Burro Program
FREMONT COUNTY, Colo. -

Wild horses broken and trained by inmates in the Cañon City area were found dead in their pen Monday. A mysterious illness is likely to blame, according to a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management.

The Wild Horse and Burro program is a collaboration between the BLM and Colorado Correctional Industries. Horses from the prison complex are sent across the nation to be sold or adopted out.

A total of 19 horses were either found dead or had to be put down because of the unknown illness, though it doesn't appear as if the problem spread to other animals at the facility.

"As a precaution, we have quarantined the facility and will not ship animals out this week," said Fran Ackley, BLM Colorado Wild Horse and Bureau Program Lead. "We are working with a veterinarian to determine the cause of the illness and prevent any potential spread to other wild horses at the facility."

Autopsies have been ordered and investigators will also test samples of water and hay from the infected pen at the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

"We're kind of testing everything to figure out where it came from," said Lauren Gapinski, a spokeswoman for the BLM.