Healthy horses on the range in the Checkerboard area. Photo: Carol Walker
In 2016, 25 burros (that we know of) died of a rare virus at this BLM facility. http://sanpetemessenger.com/2016/11/02/dead-burros-in-axtell-contracted-rare-virus/
BLM’s Axtell, UT, holding facility is on a ranch owned by retired BLM employee Kerry Despain, who ran the now defunct prison mustang program at Gunnison prison. There was an OIG investigation into Gunnison prison.
Learn more about strangles HERE. How will the BLM disinfect the pastures? – Debbie
Utah State Office, Utah
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lisa Reid (435) 743-3128
April 3, 2017
Axtell, Utah – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Axtell Contract Off-Range Corrals have issued a voluntary quarantine of wild horses at the facility due to an outbreak of upper respiratory tract infection. Individual infected animals are being tested for the exact cause, but early diagnosis indicates “strangles” or equine distemper (Streptococcus equi).
This disease is highly contagious and spread by other infected horses. BLM officials have notified the Utah State Veterinarian of the outbreak, who visited the facility. Coordination is also occurring with Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for testing of the infected horses.
On March 20, 2017 the Utah Department of Agriculture put out a reminder for equine owners regarding outbreaks of strangles, visit here: Biosecurity Reminder for Utah Horse Owners.
The Axtell facility staff began seeing signs of strangles on March 27 mostly within the younger animals that had naturally weakened or immature immune systems. No mortality of horses has occurred from the localized outbreak, only clinical signs are being observed at this time. The quarantine will delay the adoption of the highly sought after Sulphur and Frisco wild horses that were scheduled to be adopted at facilities across the country. This quarantine does not affect the Axtell facility public tour scheduled for April 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“The BLM takes the health of every wild horse and burro seriously and the Axtell facility horses will be monitored closely by facility staff. After all signs of infection have passed, the horses will be scheduled for transfer to Oklahoma, Illinois, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, California, and within Utah for adoption to qualified individuals,” said Gus Warr, Utah Wild Horse Program Manager.
Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to leave a message or question for Public Affairs Specialist Lisa Reid. The FRS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Replies are provided during normal business hours.