CAÑON CITY, Colo. — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced on Monday that 57 wild horses have died since April 23rd after being infected with an unknown, highly contagious disease.

According to the BLM, the outbreak of this disease began on April 23rd at the Wild Horse Facility in Cañon City, and since then, at least 57 horses have died. The facility is under a voluntary quarantine while the BLM works with local, state, and federal officials to determine the exact cause of death.

The fatalities have primarily affected wild horses captured from the West Douglas Herd Area in late summer 2021. At the time, the BLM noted that West Douglas horses captured near the Utah state line were being separated from other horses at Cañon City pending testing for Equine Infectious Anemia, a highly infectious disease that had been confirmed in horses in nearby Uintah County, Utah. 

Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC), said disease and deaths in wild horse holding facilities is the result of inhumane mass roundups: “The agency is planning to round up and remove another 19,000 wild horses and burros from public lands this year. We can expect to see more suffering and death if BLM continues down this dangerous and destructive path.”

The Cañon City facility also houses wild horses captured in a roundup from the popular Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area– a roundup that sparked massive public outrage and intervention from Governor Jared Polis, First Gentleman Marlon Reis, and Congressman Joe Neguse.

There are currently 59,749 wild horses and 862 wild burros in BLM off-range holding facilities, with 2,550 of those held at Cañon City.