SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Bureau of Land Management has formed a team that will oversee the removal of 200 wild horses from a Salt Lake City-area corral due to muddy conditions, but in a report released Thursday, the agency dismissed recent abuse allegations by animal welfare organizations.
The BLM report said the Salt Lake Wild Horse and Burro Center should be kept at a reduced capacity during the winter and early spring months due to muddy conditions that prevent the horses from lying down and make it difficult for them to stand up.
The investigation began after a video released by Colorado-based Cloud Foundation showed horses struggling to move or laying down in a mix of mud, manure and urine last month. The group is pressing Congress for an investigation of all BLM corrals.
We are pleased that they are improving the conditions for this facility, but we hope they use the money Congress has approved for good use such as water improvements and plan treatments rather than roundups.
–Ginger Kathrens, Cloud Foundation
BLM said about 200 horses will be moved about 125 miles south to a facility in Gunnison while the team examines options to solve the issues related to poor drainage and mud at the center, including evaluating soil conditions and pen layouts.
"We are pleased that they are improving the conditions for this facility, but we hope they use the money Congress has approved for good use such as water improvements and plan treatments rather than roundups," said Ginger Kathrens, founder of the Cloud Foundation.
BLM's report said the facility receives a large amount of precipitation which leads to the mud buildup. If those problems are not resolved, the facility could be moved to a different location or not open year-round, the report said.
The Salt Lake Wild Horse and Burro Center has about 475 horses, said manager Jared Redington. Its main purpose is to house wild horses until they are adopted out or reach an older age and moved to a larger holding facility.
"We care about our animals and want to find good homes for them," Jared said. "What the video did not show was that we had areas with hay so the horses could sit and we had pushed manure off to the side with a tractor. That video was taken two days after a big snowstorm and during these muddy months, it's very difficult to go in and remove all of the mud."
Heavy mud conditions also stemmed from the facility's location on a steep hillside, the report said. As a result, the area receives a high amount of runoff that ends up in the horse pens.
The review team also recommended that an agricultural engineer familiar with large animal holding facilities be hired to evaluate the site for improvements.
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