Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dozen foals found dead

219 E. Pine St., Ste. 109, Pinedale, WY 82941 • Ph: 307-367-3203 • Fax: 307-367-3209
E-EDITION LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 8:05:44 AM
Posted: Monday, May 3rd, 2010
BY: Derek Farr

On Sunday, April 25, two Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employees found carcasses of 12 foals that were shot, killed and dumped on BLM land 15 miles east of Marbleton.

The foals appeared to be newborn, 1 month to 1 week old, BLM Law Enforcement Ranger Shane Wasem said Wednesday in a statement.

The animals were shot and dumped on Saturday, April 24, Wasem said.

The foals were privately owned and not wild horses. They had been transported from private property to BLM-administered land.

Wasem said a joint investigation between the BLM and Sublette County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) netted a cooperative suspect.

Federal charges are pending because of the location where the foals were found.

“BLM jurisdiction lies strictly with the dumping of private livestock onto BLM lands,” he said.

The maximum penalty for illegal dumping is one year in jail and/or $10,000 fine.

Wasem would not reveal details or name the suspect, saying the case is under investigation.

However, Sublette County Attorney’s Office spokesperson Randall Hanson said his office will not file charges against anyone involved in the incident.

Our investigation revealed there was nothing inhumanely done about it,” he said, “and there is nothing under Wyoming statutes that prohibits him doing that.”

The horses’ owner, Hank Franzen of the Powder River Rodeo Company, said he learned of the incident after the fact.

He explained his herd of a dozen 4-year-old mares wintered on land owned by the Miller Land & Livestock Ranch near Big Piney. He said he was notified his horses were doing well although one of the mares was pregnant. But, according to Franzen, when his son and son-in-law arrived at the ranch to take the animals to summer pasture on April 24, the pair was surprised to find all 12 of the mares had foals and the group was undernourished, he said.

“When they got out there and seen the wreck that it was,” Franzen said, “the humane thing in their mind was to save one or the other (either the mares or the colts.)”

At that point, his son called Franzen who said he was out of cell phone range in Utah.

The decision to put down the foals was made by consensus with his 22-year-old son, his son-and-law and his 58-year-old friend Bill Griffin who lives on the ranch and “offered to gather those horses and work them,” Franzen said.

Noting Griffin was the oldest of the three, Franzen explained, “I’m not saying (Griffin) made the decision; I’m not saying my son did – but between the group consensus they felt they needed to do something because the colts were suffering.”

He said all the animals were weak and the mares were without milk.

He also insisted the decision was not made for economic reasons, saying the men were concerned the foals would overstress and possibly weaken and kill the mares.

“It was the passion of the animals’ suffering is why they were put down,” he said, adding the men didn’t believe the horses could have survived the trip to summer pasture.

Franzen said he did not know details about how the horses were put down.

“I wasn’t there,” he explained.

But he stood by the decision to put them down. However, he was not supportive of dumping the foals on public land, explaining Griffin was responsible for that decision.

He said the incident has been difficult for his family.

“When we got those (mares) home, we were plum devastated,” he said. “We took pictures because we wanted to show them to the people who were supposed to take care of those horses.”

He also said he does not know how any stud was able to breed the mares – the gestation period for a mare is about 11 months.

Tara Miller of the Miller Land & Livestock Company responded to the incident with a statement.

“Mike (Miller) keeps an eye on the pasture and last looked at it about two weeks ago,” the statement read. “He said there was still a lot of grass and that the herd looked in good but typical rugged condition as young horses that are on winter pasture do.”

The statement said the mares were keeping the foals away from the main herd of 74 animals.

“Being young, on winter grass and having to protect their colts, (the mares’) condition had to have quickly deteriorated,” it read.

The statement also said the Millers’ stallions, kept on a separate ranch, did not get into the Franzen mares.

“It was unfortunate that the (pregnant) immature fillies were turned out on winter pasture and could not sustain their foals,” the statement read. “It’s the most humane decision the Franzens could have made.”

Bill Griffin is a good person, the statement read, who was helping out with a bad situation. “Everybody feels terrible about this tragedy.”

The horses were kept on Triple Bar Ranch pasture north of Highway 351.

Griffin was reached on Thursday for this story; however, he did not contact the Sublette Examiner by press time.

Jackson veterinarian Ernie Patterson, who has 30 years working with horses, explained mares will sacrifice their body to feed their foals.

He said in the Upper Green River Valley’s climate, pregnant mares typically require supplemental feeding on winter pasture.

But he added, “There’s no reason in my mind that you would have to euthanize the foals and describe it as a mercy killing.”

“If you want to be humane to the mares, you feed them,” Patterson said.

Patterson added if the mares were severely starved, they would have aborted their foals.

He said the 12 foals could have gone to another home, although he acknowledged raising each one would have been time consuming and expensive.
And he said the market for horses is severely depressed.

1 comment:

tina walker said...

This is the petition site to boycott this rodeo company from supplying stock to the rodeo circuits.

did you no that they are supplying stock to the nationl rodeo i bet the mares will be there..