Drought on Navajo Nation hits wild horses

Gallup, New Mexico (AP) August 2012

Wild horses on the drought-stricken Navajo Nation are fighting for their lives.

Navajo Nation resource officials say lack of rainfall and high heat are drying up watering holes and leaving others with harmfully high levels of salt.

Ranger Sgt. Elmer Phillips said rangers on patrol find hundreds of carcasses at dirt reservoirs.

Chief Ranger Leonard Butler says some wild horses have been captured in emergency roundups and sold.

Phillips said rangers observed horses staggering around and falling over after being rounded up and provided fresh water.

Tribal veterinarian Scott Bender said in a letter cited by Butler that dehydrated horses that drink salty water, followed by a lot of fresh water, can suffer brain swelling and seizures that can cause death.

The Gallup Independent (http://bit.ly/NTq78e ) reported that the purchaser of more than 200 wild horses apparently resells them for slaughter in Mexico.

There have been confrontations with people who object to the roundups, leading to some arrests, Phillips said.

“We have a lot of people who do not want horses to be rounded up,” said Sgt. Aurelia Nez.

But, she said, the reality is “there’s no water out there. There’s lack of vegetation. Some windmills are broken down, some earthen dams are all dry.”