Wild Horse Education

BREAKING! Pigeon Fever At Devils Garden; 7 #wildhorses killed


Wild horse at the Double Devil facility

On 11/3 Forest Service killed 7 wild horses asserting that one had a positive test on October 26 for Pigeon Fever and 6 others were showing symptoms. In addition they killed 4 others; two for what they said were preexisting conditions and two acute, including a foal. Eleven wild horses total were reported euthanized on 11/3.

 It is impossible to determine which horses have Pigeon Fever as many horses will be asymptomatic (showing no outward signs). This disease also has an incubation period (the time between the initial infection and the formation of the abscess and outward symptoms)  from 1-4 weeks.

The adoption event planned for Nov 16 and 17 should be postponed. Any other action is irresponsible to the public and the wild horses.

“Forest Service can not play this outbreak with the same contradictory tone they have used onsite throughout this operation,” LLeigh, WHE President “Either this is so serious it warrants euthanasia or it is no big deal and the sales event moves forward. Either they have killed 7 wild horses needlessly or they are moving an event forward that is a risk to public and wild horse safety.”

Pigeon Fever, sometimes called dryland distemper, is caused by a bacteria that lives in the soil known as Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis.  (yes, similar to tuberculosis cells that effect humans). The bacteria, in an effected area, can live for as long as 8 months in the soil and two months in hay or bedding.

Pigeon fever, while not usually life-threatening, is highly contagious.  While rarely contagious to humans, we can easily transfer the infection from horse to horse via our hands or equipment. Horses that share the same water, hay and have been run through the same chutes can easily infect each other. (Animal to animal, shared water sources, shared equipment, flies, soil, cattle, the soil or bacteria on your shoes, can all transmit the disease.)

The disease occurs in three forms: external abscesses, internal abscesses and limb infection, also known as ulcerative lymphangitis. The most common involves huge abscesses that appear on the chest giving the “pigeon look.” Abscesses can appear anywhere and often burst. (more info on Pigeon Fever:  https://www2.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/ceh/local_resources/pdfs/HorseReport-Winter2014.pdf)

The external form is rarely fatal. About 8% of horses that get the disease will develop internal abscesses; about 30-40% of those cases are fatal. About 1% of cases are the form called Ulcerative Lymphangitis that causes limbs to swell. If Ulcerative Lymphangitis is not treated early and aggressively, horses that suffer from ulcerative lymphangitis will have some residual lymphatic damage.

There is no way to determine if an infected horse was introduced, the bacteria present in the soil of Double Devil or a piece of infected equipment or shoes worn by an employee created this outbreak. 

Every day more horses are added to the newly constructed, permanent, corrals called “Double Devil.” Each new horse introduced will be at risk of infection. 

OBSERVERS are NOT being warned that their shoes, after visiting the corrals, present a risk to any horse they have at home. If you have visited the facility since the positive Pigeon Fever test on October 26, and went to your barn, watch your horses and cows; cows can transmit the strain that effects both horses and the strain that effects sheep. Conversely cows can catch both forms of Pigeon Fever (the one that infects horses and the one that effects sheep). 

The event needs to be cancelled. No more horses should be introduced to the corrals.

Euthanizing anymore horses for a non life threatening illness, because staff is not prepared to address an outbreak, may be a violation of  federal law. 

Allowing the event to continue is simply irresponsible to both the public and the wild horses. 

To read more about the operation that is filled with contradictions and poor planning, click here: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2018/11/04/devil-garden-roundup-adoption-confusion-and-pigeon-fever/


A video edit of observations will be posted soon. 

A roundup begins long before a helicopter flies. Help us build a strong frontline to fight for them and their habitat. We can not continue without your support.



Categories: Wild Horse Education