Uintah County plans to round up stray, abandoned horses for the next year
SALT LAKE CITY – The Uintah County Commission this week cleared the removal of 300 to 500 stray or abandoned horses from a large area due to vehicle collisions, poor grazing conditions and animal health.
The move is somewhat unprecedented and is the first time in more than two decades that the county has decided to have the horses removed.
District officials and the Independent Animal Control District emphasize that these are not “wild” horses and do not occupy herd management areas under the supervision of the Bureau of Land Management, the federal agency that oversees protected wild horses and donkeys.
Christina Williams, executive director of the Uintah Animal Control and Shelter Special Service District, said the BLM came in in 2001 and collected the entire herd in that area of Uintah County and essentially “wiped out” the population of protected horses.
“These animals just showed up because the price of hay was so high and the owners were throwing them out and hoping for the best,” she said.
There have been a number of oil truck and passenger car collisions that created a public safety issue, and last year’s winter resulted in the deaths of several animals, Williams said.
“Seeing them die a slow death last year was horrible,” she said. “There’s just no food out there. For several years now, people have been begging the district and the district to do something about it. “
All of the collected horses, beginning in January, will undergo a trademark inspection by state and tribal officials, and the county will attempt to reunite the animals with their owners. All are also examined by a veterinarian.
The district is in the process of drawing up a tender for the Aerial Gathers.
Abandoned horses in Uintah County are struggling with pastureland conditions and are hit by oil trucks and other vehicles as they trek on highways. Uintah County officials just authorized a crackdown on several hundred of these horses in January. The Uintah Animal Control and Shelter Special Service District
“There are bags of horses scattered all over the county,” she said. “We seem to be one of the worst areas.”
The implementing ordinance issued by the district on Monday states that all unclaimed horses will be advertised for sale and kept in the animal shelter.
Williams added that these unclaimed animals will ultimately be available in a sales barn in Ballard.
The fate of these unclaimed horses will remain unknown as Uintah County says they are under its jurisdiction and what a private buyer does to them – which could mean they will be slaughtered.
“The bottom line is, when they are claimed, what the owner does to them is their decision and their business,” she said. “Our only job is to round them up and get them off the shooting range so that they stop being a threat to public safety.”
Williams said she knew the project to collect horses from Ouray to the Colorado border would be controversial and expected proponents to put pressure on the county to leave them alone.
Correction: In a previous version, the Uintah Animal Control and Shelter District was incorrectly assigned to Uintah County when it was an independent entity.