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Test: Wild Horses Died of Stress

March 11, 1998

RENO, Nev. (AP) _ Nine young mares that survived the barren deserts of the West died of stress induced by their capture and a 1,000-mile truck ride to Colorado.

The horses died of ``capture myopathy,″ a condition in wild animals triggered by anxiety of capture, according to test results released Tuesday by the Bureau of Land Management.

Forty mares and 10 studs were loaded into a truck Feb. 17 at the BLM’s center in Palomino Valley north of here for the 24-hour trip to a similar facility south of Denver.

Nine horses arrived showing signs of distress. None survived.

Handling of the animals is a topic being addressed by a new advisory board looking into issues surrounding the estimated 44,000 wild horses and burros that roam free across 11 Western states.

``The advisory board will be looking into ways to minimize stress, whether on the range, during gathers or as they move through the adopt-a-horse program,″ said Robin Lohnes, a board member and the executive director of the American Horse Protection Association in Washington, D.C.

The 26-year-old adoption program was intended by Congress to reduce the number of animals competing with ranchers’ cattle for scant forage on federal lands. Horses are rounded up into corrals and put up for adoption.

The establishment of the advisory panel followed reports last year by The Associated Press that thousands of animals adopted through a federal program were sold for slaughter with BLM employees among those who profited.

The AP also reported that the BLM lost track of about 32,000 adopted animals and that agency officials gave false information to Congress.

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