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Gov’t Resumes Wild Horses Roundup

May 20, 1998

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Dozens of wild horses showed no sign of a deadly virus that government agencies are trying to halt through a helicopter roundup on eastern Utah’s vast sagebrush mesas and canyons.

The first 95 of as many as 500 wild horses tested negative for equine infectious anemia. Results from a second battery of even more accurate blood tests were due by Thursday.

An outbreak of the virus on the Ute Indian Reservation prompted the Bureau of Land Management and Utah agriculture and wildlife agencies to launch the operation.

``So far, it’s nothing but good news,″ said Glenn Foreman, BLM wild horse and burro information specialist.

In all, 95 horses have been penned, including 30 that were captured last week before bad weather and animal rights’ protesters forced a temporary halt to the roundup. It resumed Monday.

Horses are given an initial blood screening as they are herded into makeshift corrals so that those testing positive can be separated from the herd. Blood samples also are sent to state laboratories for more sophisticated tests.

As of Tuesday, the lab tests for the first 30 horses all were negative, said Linda Colville, associate state director for the BLM.

``The horses we have gathered are in good condition,″ she said. ``They’re well-fed and healthy.″

Animals that test positive will be destroyed.

Equine infectious anemia, also known as swamp fever, is transmitted by bloodsucking insects and kills roughly a third of the animals it infects. Survivors become carriers.

Animal rights groups have complained that the roundups are being conducted during foaling season and the stress could weaken, injure or even kill colts.

BLM officials said precautions are being taken.

``Our plan, carefully worked out between the state veterinarian and other equine experts, incorporates special precautions ... to protect newborn and young foals,″ said Dave Howell, director of the BLM’s Vernal district field office.

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