CAMERON, Ariz. – In front of a northern Arizona highway surrounded by pastel-colored desert is one of the strongest examples of drought grip in the American Southwest: nearly 200 dead horses, surrounded by cracked earth, swirling dust and a band of water that could quench their thirst. Meat and exposed in various stages of decomposition, the carcasses form a circle around a dry waterhole sunk in the countryside, CBS affiliate KPHO reports.
It's clear this is not the first time the animals have fought. Skeletal remains are scattered on the edge and in an adjacent gorge.
It is a symptom of a burgeoning wild horse population and water scarcity on the western edge of the Navajo nation following a dry winter and dreary spring runoff.
According to the Navajo nation, 1
"These animals were looking for water to stay alive, but unfortunately they dug into the mud and could not escape because they were weak," said Navajo vice president Jonathan Nez on Thursday a statement.
A grim photo of the Navajo nation shows the horses, many of them in the mud up to the thighs and even up to the neck.
Conditions are not expected to improve in the foreseeable future, and tribal officials suspect that other animals have died and do not have enough to eat or drink.
"One of the things we do is the worst scenario out there," said Harlan Cleveland of the Tribal Department of Emergency Management, "I smelled the decay and the bodies began to smell, the carcasses. But I did not notice it until I looked down from the berm and saw all those horses down there. "
There are no droughts here to shut down swimming pools or let grass dry.
This rural community does not have its own source of drinking water They get it from a well 48.2 miles away, most of them carry water and carry large plastic containers in the beds of their pickups, the groundwater is brackish and only recommended for livestock, but the two are Storage tanks closest to the waterhole are no longer functioning.
The animals were used to finding relief at the pond where the horses died The decades-old earthen dam has been dehydrated faster every year they can not rely on vegetation or water holes, some have dragged water and put it in feeding troughs r animals left.
Charlie Smith Jr. Enter the small berm that had overlooked the waterhole three weeks ago looking for his cattle. At the time he counted 29 dead horses and a cow that was not stranded on the beach.
"It's very emotional," he said, standing next to his truck full of hay. "I kept calling my sister and saying," That's bad. You're tearing, you're tearing, you know you're not in a position to save them. "
Tribal officials counted 118 dead horses and two cows this week, but that's not the potential carcasses (19659002) Tribal officials estimate tens of thousands of wild horses on the nation's largest reservation, the Navajo Nation, spanning 69,000 square miles (69,929,679 square kilometers) in Arizona. Utah and New Mexico. Some communities have demanded raids, but they are often held with public outcry linked to the Navajo's spiritual beliefs about the animals and their role in prayers and ceremonies.
When Emmett Kerley was a teenager in Gray Mountain in the late 1970s The community controlled horse populations by neutering the smaller ones, he said. The Navajo culture taught that young men should train and tame horses to achieve stamina, a strong work ethic, and livestock, he said.
There were no wild horses at that time, but then the society changed in the larger America on Navajo, also on the reserve, "he said.
US Bureau of Indian Affairs staff set up a barbed wire fence around the water hole where Horses Overlapping.
Federal and tribal workers this week used heavy equipment to bring horses found on the outskirts closer to the others, lime hydrate was distributed across the site to aid decomposition and fend off scavengers. Friday's work focused on collapsing the berm and burying the animals on site.
Eventually, the tribe will divert any water that flowed into that water hole to a safer area.
"Knock on wood, God forbid That we will have this situation somewhere else in the reservation, "said Cleveland," This will lay the foundation for how we respond to it. " Despite all the destruction, there was a bright spot. When Cleveland examined the ground earlier this week to find out how best to respond to the deaths, he saw a foal, no more than four weeks old, walking beside his mother.
Tribal officials wore it to a truck and a long-sleeved white T-shirt to keep it warm for a trip to a veterinary clinic 45 minutes away. They called her Grace
Erin Hisrich, who owns the clinic, said Grace was severely dehydrated and needed to stabilize her blood sugar and the kidneys worked before she could be adopted. On Thursday, the brown foal splashed with a long white hair wreath in a tub of water and was appeased by visitors.
"In the end, my day has responded to this emergency and this chaotic scene," Cleveland said. "At least this baby foal did it."