Thursday, November 19, 2015

Horses abandoned on Eastern Kentucky reclaimed coal mines leading to safety, health concerns

A growing number of horses abandoned on reclaimed coal mines in Eastern Kentucky has led to safety concerns involving horses wandering into traffic and a lack of food and health care for the wild animals, Bill Estep reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. An official count in March 2014 reported 500 wild horses in nine Eastern Kentucky counties, but animal rights activists say estimates are more likely to be between 3,000 and 5,000. Advocates also say some of the horses are not abandoned but have owners who are trying to take advantage of free grazing. (Kentucky Humane Society photo: Wild horses near a road in Eastern Kentucky)

Karen Gustin, head of the Kentucky Equine Humane Center, "estimated 30 percent of the horses she has seen on reclaimed mines don’t look to be in good shape," Estep writes. She said that "even some of the ones that look good could have damaging parasites." She said "some of the free-roaming horses are emaciated and many lack vaccinations and proper care for their teeth and feet."

Safety concerns are elevated during the winter, when the horses, starved for salt, wander onto roads to lick salt distributed for snow and ice removal, Estep writes. Last month three men were arrested on charges of stealing four horses from a reclaimed mine, and "there also have been reports of the free-roaming horses being shot." Horses have also been blamed for damaging property, such as chewing siding from a house. And more horses means more breeding, which leads to even more horses. Lori Redmon, head of the Kentucky Humane Society, told Estep, “There’s a problem that is growing. There are some sites that are currently not able to sustain the horse population.” (Read more)

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