BIA Action Urged After Exhausted Horse Dies on Havasupai Trail

PETA Wants Agency to Help Prevent Future Tragedies by Urgently Assessing Working Horses and Suspending Wrangler

For Immediate Release:
June 7, 2019

David Perle 202-483-7382

Flagstaff, Ariz.

After an eyewitness complaint was submitted to SAVE Havasupai Horses, PETA fired off a letter this morning to the Bureau of Indian Affairs asking that it take immediate action against the wrangler whose horse collapsed and died from apparent heat exhaustion on May 27. The animal had been forced to carry an oversized load for miles along the Havasupai trail. PETA is calling for an inspection by a licensed veterinarian of the other equines in the wrangler’s custody—and for any animal in poor condition to be confiscated.

“The pain and fear that this young horse experienced in the final moments would have been extremely distressing,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is calling on the Bureau of Indian Affairs to ensure that no other horses are marched to their deaths on the Havasupai trail.”

Horses and other animals forced to transport tourists’ gear in the Havasupai region of the Grand Canyon are often denied water, food, and rest breaks. Many have open wounds from ill-fitting gear and even broken legs. Animals have fallen off the steep trails, and those who survive the fall are reportedly left by the side of the trail to die.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, which is a supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit

PETA’s letter to Darryl LaCounte, director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, follows.

June 7, 2019

Darryl LaCounte


Bureau of Indian Affairs

Dear Mr. LaCounte,

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide regarding the death of a young horse on May 27. This animal was forced to carry an oversized load while apparently suffering from extreme heat exhaustion on the Havasupai Trail. We understand that an investigation is underway after a complaint was filed by an  eyewitness after contacting Save Havasupai Horses, but we’d like to urge additional immediate action, including an inspection of the other animals in this wrangler’s possession by a licensed veterinarian brought in by the BIA as well as a suspension of packing for the wrangler until the investigation is complete.

According to an eyewitness, this young horse was forced to carry an oversized load for about seven miles along the Havasupai Trail, at which point the animal began exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion, swaying back and forth while sweating. Moments later, the witness heard a loud commotion as the horse collapsed and died.

Following the suffering and death of this horse, we’re deeply concerned about the well-being of the other animals in this wrangler’s possession as well as other pack animals in the canyon. We understand that this wrangler has other horses who are reported to be in poor condition and that one horse approximately the same age as the one who died was forced into service in front of the eyewitness that very day. Our concern seems reasonable, since it appears that other horses owned by this wrangler are in jeopardy.

May I hear that action will be taken immediately to suspend packing for this wrangler, impound any horses in poor condition, and enforce cruelty-to-animals laws?

Best regards,

Tracy Reiman

Executive Vice Presiden

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.

Get the Latest Tips—Right in Your Inbox
We’ll e-mail you weekly with the latest in vegan recipes, fashion, and more!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.