Dead horse had been tied to rock, left to die on public land

Nov 17, 2017 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Illegal littering is long-standing and recurring problem for the Bureau of Land Management, but it's not every day the agency comes across a dead horse dumped on public property.

"This is a little unusual," said Sarah Beckwith, public affairs officer for the BLM's Wind River District.

The animal was found at about 11:15 a.m. Monday, tied to a boulder in the Lost Wells Butte area, according to Fremont County Sheriff's Office reports.

The reporting party initially thought the horse had been tied up alive and left to die, Undersheriff Ryan Lee said, but deputies later determined the carcass had been transported to the area and dumped.

Lee said his agency deals with this kind of illegal dumping "from time to time." Normally, he explained, someone whose horse has died either buries the animal on private property, or takes it to a landfill. But owners who don't have space for burial or money to cover landfill fees sometimes load the dead animal onto a trailer or truck and dump it in a remote area of the county instead.

Slide off

Monday's horse was tied to a boulder in order to easily remove it from the vehicle, Lee continued.

"They'll load it with a loader or a tractor or some implement, (but) when they get to where they're disposing of it they don't have that capability," he said. "So the way to get it off (the vehicle) is to tie it to something heavy and drive off."

He's seen the method used with other large animals, like deceased livestock that have been found attached to power poles, for example.

"They back up to a power pole in the middle of the prairie, tie off to it and drive forward, thus sliding (the animal) off (the vehicle)," Lee said.

There were no brands or markings on the horse found Monday, Lee added, so it's unlikely the person who dumped the carcass will ever be found. And if the animal isn't close to residences or waterways, Beckwith said it likely will be left where it is.

"As long as its' not a human safety issue, the BLM will let nature takes its course, because it's not practical to remove it," she said.

At other illegal dump sites, she said, it's often possible to find out who broke the law, by sorting through the trash and finding evidence of its owner. If a perpetrator is identified, Beckwith said the person is contacted, cited and asked to clean up the area.

"There are penalties for dumping on public land, and those would include fines and - depending on the extent of it - time served," she said. "But in most cases if we can trace the owner we use it more as an educational opportunity."

Once one person leaves trash at a certain location, Beckwith said the garbage pile usually attracts additional dumpers to the same spot. She said the practice poses a threat to people, pets and wildlife in the area.

"It's a shame when we come across one of these illegal dump sites," Beckwith said. "Public land belongs to all Americans and is something we should take care of and be proud of."

The BLM often organizes groups of volunteers to clean up the area, she noted, inviting off-highway vehicle groups, youth, industry, environmental organizations and other concerned citizens to participate.

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