Close to 300 abandoned, stray or nuisance horses were removed from public lands in Uintah County, Utah this January over a five-day period, with the majority of them being reunited with their lawful owners.
The Uintah Animal Control and Special Service District, under authorization from Uintah County, worked with a licensed horse gathering company to carry out the animals’ removal, successfully taking in 296 animals.
None had to be euthanized, although some of the animals had cuts and scrapes that were medically addressed, according to the district’s executive director, Christina Williams.
“Our first series of gathers was very successful,” Williams said. “We exceeded our target of 175 horses.”
Most of the horses, which are not “wild” or under the purview of the Bureau of Land Management, were concentrated in the area near the Green River. Some were also found along Seep Ridge Road, Glen Ridge Road and in the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge.
Eighteen of the animals remain under the care of the district pending the outcome of testing results for equine infectious anemia. Another 278 animals were claimed by their owner, satisfying the requirements by state brand inspectors before being transported out of state.
Williams stressed that the animals are not wild, and that all BLM horses were “zeroed” out in the area about 21 years ago. Over time, these horses have increased in population and wandered onto roadways where there have been vehicle collisions and other threats to public safety.
Williams said the district plans to work with the contractor to “bait trap” stragglers, and other gathers are planned this year. There were as many as 500 horses in the project area at the time the county issued the executive order.
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