Wild Horse Education

Air Quality (roundups and more)

Air Quality is a subject that has gotten a lot of attention in recent years with the increase in wildfire. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a numeric scale that rates the AQI from 0-500; a higher number represents increased risks.

AQI from airnow.gov

Ground-level ozone and airborne particles are the two pollutants that pose the greatest threat to human and animal health. Wild animals, and your domestic pets, face risks.

A letter from Northwest Equine Performance in Mulino, Oregon, was reprinted in The Horse (found here) excerpt below:

Horses should not be exercising in an air quality index (AQI) greater than 200. Horses should not be doing anything much above walking at AQI of 151-­‐200. Horses with existing respiratory issues may be more sensitive and affected at even lower AQI levels.

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Recommendations on recovery and treatment all reference abundance of water and limiting dust exposure. These recovery recommendations are from simple exposure, not running full steam for miles like a wild horse does at a roundup.

On one of the “dailies” from the ongoing roundup out in the Antelope Complex in NV we added a picture of the AQI.

The agency says these particular wild horses (the roundup) are suffering from “extra dry and dusty” conditions. When the AQI rises over 100 (according to the accepted standards) young and old or compromised can be effected simply by being in the environment. Over 150 even healthy horses should not be doing much at all.

Last year at the Shawave roundup in NV, air quality hazardous conditions (over 300) and the roundup continued.

As our team addresses issues here at Antelope (barbed wire, high speed collisions, dangerously close flying and more) one of the additions to the CAWP policy we would like to see are guidelines consistent with veterinary recommendations for domestic horses; no running in unhealthy air. We would like to see an absolute halt of all operations of any kind at 150, and at least distance limitations if air quality hits 100. We have added the AQI range to our packet of CAWP modifications that need to happen if the policy is really going to be considered a “humane handling” policy.

WHE has a new roundup team member on her very first roundup. Most of our roundup volunteers are people committed to record keeping and working on enforcement/revisions of the CAWP policy; they are usually not photographers.

One of the hardest things to convey to the public are the “long runs.” The back and forth and back again with multiple attempts at the trap mouth. In this edit we leave the verbalizations of our volunteer on the edit; her spontaneous speech to the camera sums up how “the long run” made her feel. This video was edited down from 35 minutes of digital capture. The band evaded capture multiple times and was finally let go. (Antelope was announced with very little notice and we thank our volunteer for stepping right up. You can follow daily updates here.)

This particular “long run” was done in smokey conditions with an AQI in that area over 140.


UC Davis made a fast flyer for monitoring damage from smoke inhalation for horse owners to keep on hand. (here)

Respiratory rate at rest should be 12-24 breaths/minute.

Horses should be examined by a veterinarian if any of the following are noted:

    • Respiratory rate is consistently greater than 30 breaths/minute at rest
    • Nostrils have obvious flaring
    • There is obvious increased effort of breathing when watching the horse’s abdomen and rib cage.
    • There is repetitive or deep coughing,
    • OR, Abnormal nasal discharge

The AVMA notes it can take up to two weeks for damage from smoke inhalation to create visible symptoms.

Air Quality Monitor – AirNow.Gov
With the uptick in wildfires, and an unprecedented heatwave this summer in the northwest, local air quality has become more and more important to stay up to date with. This website is extremely simple to use, just plug in your zipcode and you will be given an air quality forecast for today and tomorrow.
Additionally, this website provides a map of the country and the air quality index that you can scroll through by clicking the “Fire & Smoke Map” button on the right of the forecast.
Fire Monitor – Inciweb.nwcg.gov
Every summer it seems that we are forced to deal with more and more wildfires in the western US. This website is extremely simple: all it does is show you a map of the country with icons designating reported wildfires.
You can click on these icons to get a breakdown of that specific fire:  size, the level of containment, as well as a link to get further information on that specific fire such as exactly where that fire is
Whether for travel plans or local information, knowing where fires are burning and how contained they
are, is extremely important.

US Drought Monitor – Droughtmonitor.unl.edu
Perhaps the most applicable to current times is the drought monitor website. This website shows a map of the country with a color-coded breakdown of the level of drought in various locations.
As advocates for our wild horses and lands, this resource becomes extremely useful extremely quickly.
This monitor can help us stay informed on what areas are experiencing the most extreme levels of
drought and how that corresponds with activity within the BLM or the advocacy as a whole.

The roundup schedule has truly accelerated to levels we have not seen in a decade. Multiple roundups in multiple states will be taking place at the same time. Many of these operations wont have much notice and the schedule will continue to change rapidly.Help keep us in the field and in the courts.Thank you. 

Categories: Wild Horse Education