The dumping of unwanted animals at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge continues to be a headache for those charged with carrying out the mission of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Six horses and two donkeys have been abandoned on the refuge in three separate incidents, according to supervisory biologist Walter Munsterman.
The first horse showed up somewhere between Osage and Burford Lakes, sometime in late 2011 or early 2012. In the second incident, five horses were dropped off at Sunset Picnic Area.
Fish & Wildlife personnel arriving for work Tuesday found two donkeys had been turned loose in the vicinity of Camp Doris.
One of the horses had a freeze brand characteristic of the mustangs that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) puts up for adoption, but it was unreadable. One of the donkeys, a jenny, also had a freeze brand from BLM's burro program, but when Munsterman contacted BLM officials, he learned that the adoption took place so long ago that it would be impossible to trace. The jenny had come out of the burro program in 1995, and the other donkey, a young jack, was probably her offspring from last year, so he had no markings or brands.
All of the animals were caught as quickly as possible and quarantined in one of the interior pens of the large corral system.
"That's what we do every time we have an incident like this out here. We try to keep them as far away from our horses as we can," Munsterman said.
After exhaustive efforts to locate the owners, refuge officials found individuals who were willing to take them in, according to Munsterman and Refuge Manager Tony Booth.
Dumping animals at the refuge is a bad idea for several reasons, the supervisory biologist points out.
"We've got a lot of animals out here that aren't subjected to the same inoculations that domestic animals are, and so they run a risk of bringing in some kind of disease that could be seriously detrimental to the animals out here," he said.