Twelve Mustang foals will be among horses offered for adoption at a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) adoption in Stillwater, Okla., April 10. Ten gentled and halter-trained geldings, 12 untrained mares, and four gentled jack burros will also be available.


The foals are a special group because of their health history. These twelve are now certified free of a deadly disease—equine infectious anemia (EIA)—when eight months ago, they tested positive for EIA. In the spring of 1998, the presence of EIA was discovered in a northeast Utah wild horse herd. Nearly 50 horses tested positive for the disease, including these foals’ mothers. The diseased adults were destroyed and the 12 foals were kept alive to determine if they had EIA. EIA, which is transmitted by blood-sucking flying insects, is detected by examining a horse’s blood for antibodies. Because antibodies can sometimes be passed to offspring through a mare’s milk without transmitting the disease itself, the BLM was not sure if the foals actually had the disease. Subsequently, the BLM worked with wild horse and burro advocacy groups, humane societies and EIA experts to find a solution.


“This is an example of interest groups and the scientific community working cooperatively with the BLM to find a compassionate solution,” said Henri Bisson, BLM Assistant Director. “In facing this challenge, we used a good science to put the best interest of the horses first.”


The BLM explored the possibility of placing the foals in a research program to contribute to the long-term understanding of EIA and improve efforts to fight this highly infectious and incurable disease in a scientifically sound manner. In several studies, up to 90 percent of foals that initially test positive for EIA are later found not to carry the disease. It can take 6