Horse News

Horses at Axtell Wild Horse Corrals Quarantined Until Further Notice

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. 
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
Source:  BLM
News Release
Utah State Office, Utah
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.

5 replies »

  1. Strangles is highly contagious and can be transmitted by contact — making this statement alarming:

    “This quarantine does not affect the Axtell facility public tour scheduled for April 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.”

    Any public attending this should recognize that they may be carrying strangles home to their own barns on their shoes, hands, clothing etc. Strangles is always around but stressed horses aggregated in unnaturally high numbers allows it to spread rapidly. Been there, done that, in many stables now, unfortunately.

    Liked by 1 person


    OpEd by Grandma Gregg

    BLM’s “research” report to the advisory board included the fact that during the recent capture for “research”, 25 captured wild burros died and then 6 more were found dead on the Sinbad range.

    236 wild burros were captured from the Sinbad Utah legal wild horse and burro range. Some were to be removed and some were to have radio collars and then returned to the wild. The BLM was pre-warned but ignored the fact that previous BLM radio-collaring experiments caused many deaths but of course they didn’t care.

    They did finally admit that they thought (where are the necropsy reports!) the deaths might have been caused by equine herpes which is highly contagious. Did the wild burros get this deadly infection from the contractor’s horses or from filthy corral panels at temporary holding facilities or from filthy horse trailers or did they die after being shipped to AXTELL facility?

    The Sinbad burros were shipped to the AXTELL Utah holding facility. So how many wild burros were then infected and died at the Axtell facility because of this?

    The most recent BLM facility report (July 2016) stated there were 800 burros at the AXTELL facility but an eye witness reported to me as of yesterday, only 85 burros were seen there.



    BLM offers a measly 2 hour public tour of their AXTELL, Utah wild horse & burro “prison”

    After several years, the BLM is offering a first ever public tour of wild horses and burros on the PRIVATE property of Kerry Despain at a holding facility in the far flung area of Axtell, Utah. For a measly 2 hours, the BLM will allow you see the wild horses and burros that you could once enjoy on public lands. You’ll also have to suffer through BLM propaganda, under the guise of a “general discussion” about their badly mismanaged Wild Horse & Burro Program. This is a flat area with no shelter, so the BLM is probably in a hurry to get this tour out of the way before any big snow storms hit.

    Kerry Despain was an integral part of the BLM’s Gunnison prison Wild Horse and Burro Program, where many wild horses died due to “gelding complications.” Last year it was noted that Kerry Despain received about $2,500 per day for only about 500 burros (per – $1,474,205 in only two years). Another sweet deal for a BLM crony.

    Reader Comment:

    And will our 906 wild burros supposedly held at the Axtell (Kerry Despain) compound be checked on too???

    Click to access WOFacRpt111815_web.pdf

    And as for when Kerry Despain got his first BLM holding facility contract … yep April 2012. Recipient: DESPAIN, KERRY, M
    13500 S 1049 W, AXTELL, Utah
    Department/Agency: Department of Interior: Bureau of Land Management
    Signed Date: 04-13-2012
    And per since 2012 Kerry Despain has been paid $4,245,913.
    And how interesting that at about the time Kerry Despain retired as the BLM WH&B program lead for Gunnison Prison, “an audit by the Office of Inspector General released last year [2013] shows a more than million-dollar discrepancy between the two entities that raised questions over the costs. The Utah Correctional Industries under which the program operated reported costs of a little more than $5.3 million for the five-year contract period, of which auditors said $1 million was “questioned” —or not allowable under the terms of the agreement. Of that million dollars, $928,000 was deemed “unsupported,” meaning documentation related to the costs was insufficient, the report said.”


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