Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Our wild horses are learning about city living.  Pigeon Fever has come to roost.
©3/28/10 Photo by Craig C. Downer

"JUST a handful" of horses at Fallon have Pigeon fever, according to John Neill, Manager at Fallon.  On top of it all,  Easter Sunday visitation with the horses was cancelled for Easter week, and to the frustration of many, BLM is not offering any alternative date although I practically got down on one knee asking for an alternative day.  I even offered to bring cookies.  We should not have to beg or protest to see our wild horses, especially when they're sick.
No one spotted Tomahawk or Lightning on Sunday, and they've been processed since last I saw them.
I have heard from advocates who went and saw the horses last Sunday that there are more than "a handful" stricken with Pigeon Fever.  There were three counted on Sunday, March 21st; yesterday, on March 28, there were at least 12.
©3/28/10 Photo by Craig C. Downer
Pigeon Fever is a bacterial infection, highly contagious, generally not fatal, just awful, nasty uncomfortable/painful, smelly.The condition can be very painful, and affected horses may be very lame or reluctant to move.  The infection also causes fever, lethargy and weight loss. In some cases, it can be fatal. 
General practice is any barn or ranch where even one horse has Pigeon Fever, a "Do Not Touch" sign is put on the horse's fence/stall, a note of "Pigeon Fever," the horse is quarantined.  If the individual is touched -- and of course they usually are! -- one just makes sure to wash one's hands thoroughly.
Clinical signs: Pus sacs form on chest (hence resembling a pigeon), can form on jaw, sheath, and mammary areas, and more. They can form internally, and those can be very difficult to treat properly. They can need lancing if they don't break themselves.  Accepted veterinary procedure when Pigeon Fever is present is to disinfect with bleach before allowing other horses into an area previously occupied by a horse with Pigeon fever; to disinfect boots; to wash hands before touching another horse.  Bleach on dirt is not effective, so keeping pens or stalls mucked and clean is super important.  There is no vaccination or inoculation, and antibiotics are not necessarily recommended at first.
©Photography by Craig Downer

"Because this disease is so highly contagious, it is very important that veterinarians accurately diagnose these cases to tailor treatment and control," said an expert named Torres.  "Horse owners should be aware of the clinical signs and understand that veterinary care must be timely. Infected horses should be isolated, the abscesses properly treated and the drainage properly disposed of. The area where the infected horse is kept must be properly cleaned and completely disinfected because this is a very hardy bacterium. Pest control is extremely important. 

Apparently on this last Sunday (I wasn't able to get to Nevada in time after D.C.) no one saw Tomahawk or Lightning since they've been processed.  I want to see their demeanor, see how they are doing, see what pens they're in now, see if they have Pigeon Fever.   And little Mouse... all these horses I have not named -- they all have their own names anyway -- but who are dear and familiar. 

Here we take these pure, beautiful, healthy horses from their homes and coop them up and expose them to a disease that, like human herpes, they will carry the rest of their lives, having possible outbreaks.  How tragic to do this to these otherwise content individuals that so beautify and enliven the stark Nevada mountains. 
1)   WHY IS IT BUSINESS AS USUAL?  Why are not these infected horses placed in the ample hospital pens at Fallon?  There were plenty of extra pens three weeks ago.  Why are they are leaving Pigeon Fever-infected horses, horses with active abscesses, out with the general population, given how contagious this is?  
2)   BLM HAS CANCELED next Sunday's visitation due to the celebration of Easter but said they will not offer an alternative day although we have asked for one.    People have been steadily filling up the visiting appointment slots.  People are ready and waiting to go this week.  Why cancel?  BLM's decision is disregarding the clearly expressed desire and will of the American public.  In view of the horses' illness and BLM's laissez-faire approach, is BLM grabbing the opportunity to exclude the public? What do YOU think?


  1. Oh my! Where is TOMAHAWK & Lightning? Are they sick or hurt? This is so cruel.

    It is so ridiculous that we the people can not find out the status of OUR Mustangs? Such animal torture. Where is the Humane society? They save wolves etc but not the MOST SIGNIFICANT ANIMAL in the USA!!!! Why?

    Thanks a lot President Obama. Great job....ignoring what you please...turning your cheek...silence?? Wow...

  2. i am also thinking about this problem of creating illness by these pigeons, as pigeon control is must for the safety of kids also.
    pigeon control

  3. Sickening!!! Might explain why the BLM have not given updates on the horses for the past week!!! Healthy horses taken off their range and now they are sick, look like death, defeated, depressed and it makes me cry to see them in those barren pens with no sign of food just piles of manure all around them!!!!
    I hope all the people responsible go to hell for their abuse. Not a word from President Obama either!!!! His silence is deafening despite the fact that we know he is aware of what is going on. It makes me sick!!

  4. I hope that the business as usual does not include castration of the innocent Stallions - this will cause certain infection from pigeon fever...

  5. Birds are true wonderful and beautiful creatures that god has ever created but the
    Experts proved and discovered more that 60 kinds of diseases that bird pest can carry.

  6. Pigeon Fever has nothing to do with pigeons or any birds, dear ones. It is only called that because often the abscesses form on the horse's chest, which makes them sort of resemble a pigeon, at least somebody thought so. That is the ONLY relationship to a bird. Birds are lovely and wonderful and have nothing whatever to do with Pigeon Fever.

  7. If we reduced our human population all these animals would be able to roam free like they used to. Thanks a lot to the religious right for wanting their 20 kids and counting. Now all those children are going to want land of their own with houses, air conditioning, multiple vehicles, and 20 children of their own. Who do you think pays for that?
    The environment, And OUR mustangs.