Millard County sheriff's deputies are trying to find whoever abandoned a horse in Utah's western desert.
The horse was found June 27 near a gravel pit on U.S. 6/50, about 30 miles west of Delta. Deputies said the 7-year-old horse was "in really bad shape" and so the Bureau of Land Management responded with a veterinarian.
"They were able to just walk him into the trailer, and they knew he wasn't a wild horse," said Lisa Reid, a spokeswoman for the BLM in Fillmore.
The horse was emaciated and is now being nursed back to health at the BLM's wild horse facility in Delta. The horse had a brand, but deputies said no ownership could be determined.
Millard County sheriff's deputies fear that more horses have been abandoned in the western desert.
"New laws that no longer allow horse meat to be included in dog food have dropped the market on older horses," Sheriff Robert Dekker said in a statement. "The price of hay is such that folks can no longer afford to care for and feed some that may have been kept in the past."
Reid said people may be abandoning old horses under the belief that the wild horse herds in the western desert will accept them.
"You're doing your animals a huge, inhumane injustice," she said Wednesday. "They'll kick them out because they don't easily accept geldings. They don't have the instinct to fight anymore."
The horses also have no ability to fend for themselves in the wild.
"We have bred the instinct to survive out of our domestic horses. They're used to people providing food and water for them. They never have to hunt, search or worry where their next meal is coming from," Reid said. "When people drop them off in the wild, they have no sense of direction or how to search for water sources."
The BLM said when the horse is nursed back to health, it will be handed over to Millard County. Deputies said the horse may have to be euthanized if no owner can be found. There is also the possibility that the owner could face both state and federal charges for animal cruelty and trespassing a horse on federal lands.Anyone with information on the horse is asked to call the Millard County Sheriff's Office at 435-743-5302.