Media Update: 10 additional wild horse fatalities at Cañon City following the weekend

Questions left unanswered as wild horse death toll climbs to 140 

Cañon City, Colorado (May 10, 2022) – The death toll from an unseen outbreak of Equine Influenza Virus (EIV) at the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Cañon City off Range Holding Corral is now at 140 deaths in 17 days. Following is the latest update from the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC), the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization.

  • Since Friday, May 6, 11 additional horses have died. 
    • Fri: May 6: two fatalities.
    • Sat: May 7: five wild horses died, four of which were foals (baby horses) and one was a yearling (~ one-year-old). 
    • Sun: May 8: two fatalities.
    • Mon: May 9, two wild horses were reported as dead. 


  • All of the affected horses have been from the West Douglas Herd Area and were either only partially vaccinated or unvaccinated for EIV despite being in BLM care for over 10 months.


  • The BLM conducted an emergency roundup of the West Douglas Horses in late July and Early August 2021 and captured 457 wild horses. All horses were kept at the Cañon City holding corral where now 30% have now died in government care. 


  • AWHC continues to raise questions about BLM’s vaccination policy and about how to prevent another tragedy like this from happening again. 


  •  AWHC suggests a minimum vaccination date upon intake to ensure adequate time for the animals to build up immunity to diseases after entering crowded holding pens. 


  • Cañon City holding facility is not the only BLM facility facing large disease outbreaks. Wyoming’s Wheatland corrals have postponed two adoption events due to an outbreak of a highly contagious illness commonly referred to as “strangles.” According to a BLM source (email available upon request), approximately half of the 2,750 wild horse population is experiencing symptoms associated with strangles and as of May 5, 2022, 11 wild horses died. The Wheatland facility is not publically sharing updates on its outbreak. 


“The growing daily number of fatalities demonstrates that the Cañon City outbreak is not under control or confined. This is a wake-up call that wild horses are safest in the wild. We can’t keep piling more horses into a broken system while underutilizing scientifically proven fertility control treatments that would allow more horses to remain free,” said Scott Wilson, American Wild Horse Campaign Denver-based board member, and wildlife photographer. “Wild horses, a national treasure and source of American pride, have the legally protected right to roam Western lands. This should be a wake-up call that wild horses are safest and healthiest when they are in the wild versus in confined holding facilities. We continue to advocate for their health and safety.”  

About the American Wild Horse Campaign

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, with more than 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse and burros in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.