The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), under fire for failing to provide shade from fierce summer heat for the captive wild horses at a Nevada adoption center, intends to seek public input on solutions.
It also is consulting animal welfare experts in a bid to improve summer conditions at the Palomino Valley National Wild Horse and Burro Center (PVC).
The bureau installed a sprinkler system in the large holding pens, but wild horse advocates insist that shade is needed. Their efforts are supported by the Humane Society of the United States.
The bureau says it will hold a public workshop in coming weeks to provide an open forum and allow for information-sharing, suggestions, and ideas on how it can best provide for the horses within available resources and within constraints.
It acknowledged that the workshop was in response to what it called recent public concern over shade at the center.
In addition to the workshop, the bureau is consulting animal welfare experts Dr Carolyn Stull and Dr Kathryn Holcomb, of the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, who are scheduled to visit the center to assess environmental conditions.
Dr Holcomb has conducted research to determine if horses prefer and benefit from shade and Dr Stull is known for her welfare work with agricultural animals.
“Although PVC doesn’t typically have triple-digit temperatures for prolonged periods of time, as is the case in other areas where shade is provided for the animals, we know this summer in Reno has been especially hot,” said Joan Guilfoyle, the chief of the Wild Horse and Burro Division.
“The wellbeing of the wild horses and burros under BLM’s care is important to us, both on and off the range, and we’re interested in constructive input and dialogue with the public.”
The center has been an important part of the bureau’s wild horse and burro adoption program for many years.
Horses and burros there have a continuous supply of water and are fed daily.
The bureau says a veterinarian regularly visits the site and sprinklers were installed in late June to three large outside pens and five mare-foal pens to help keep the animals cool on warm days.
It says there is no evidence that any animals being held at the center are experiencing life-threatening conditions as a result of high temperatures.
The center is the largest preparation and adoption facility run by the bureau in the US, with a capacity of 1850 animals. It serves as the primary preparation center for wild horses and burros gathered from the public lands in Nevada and nearby states.