(To read the article referenced in the article below, titled “Wild Horses of the Flint Hills,” click HERE.)
Paul McGuire is with the BLM based in Oklahoma City. Fourteen-hundred and ninety-three mares were moved–200 a day–on semis beginning in the middle of June.
“The first full-month report we had from the facilitator operator came at the end of July. And it was at that time that we saw numbers on the order of about 47 horses had either died or had to be put down during that time,” said McGuire. “Those are the numbers that, when they came to BLM’s attention, our leadership immediately dispatched a team to look into that and figure out what was going on and halt it.”
But it didn’t stop at 47. The horses continued to die in the corral. Some were too weak to get up and had to be euthanized. These are the same horses that had lived in the Flint Hills pasture for 14 years.
The feed lot in Scott City is a lot that is used to taking care of cattle and some bison, but not horses who are unaccustomed to being penned, traveling in semi-trucks in the summer, or eating from a bunk or trough.
Video of the Scott City feed lot courtesy of BLM.
“In a feed lot, the horses have to push their way to the bunk, and in some cases, compete for space,” said McGuire. “You have situations of dominant horses maybe keeping more timid horses back. And that behavioral dynamic was found to have been what was really at play, or suspected to be what was the cause some of these horses not adapting well to that new environment.”
The inspection team included a vet from the USDA, and though their findings are preliminary, the changes that they made include a different blend and portion of feed. But the shock of relocation and adjustments to the new home were determined to be the causes of death.
Paul McGuire of the Bureau of Land Management says that the situation at the Scott City feed lot has stabilized, and that they are trying to secure pastures for the remaining mares.
The “Wild Horses of the Flint Hills” video was shot by Aileen LeBlanc in February 2014.