Pressure Builds on BIA: More Havasupai Trail Horses Abused

For Immediate Release:
June 19, 2019

David Perle 202-483-7382

Supai, Ariz.

Following PETA’s concerns over a horse who collapsed and died on the Havasupai Trail last month, an eyewitness has now come forward with a disturbing report that another horse collapsed on the same trail earlier this month. In response, PETA has fired off a second letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) urging the agency to investigate the eyewitness’s account and to suspend packing for this horse’s wrangler until the investigation is complete.

“This latest incident clearly shows that horses are in danger every minute they’re forced to march under the hot sun on this treacherous trail,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is doubling down on pressuring the Bureau of Indian Affairs to enact crucial protection measures for horses before the next inevitable tragedy occurs.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. The group’s latest letter to Darryl LaCounte, director of the BIA, follows, and more information about PETA’s work is available here. More than 50,000 people have written to the BIA in the past couple of weeks urging it to take action.

June 19, 2019

Darryl LaCounte


Bureau of Indian Affairs

Dear Mr. LaCounte,

I’m writing again on PETA’s behalf with yet another eyewitness account of horse suffering on the Havasupai Trail. Just weeks after a horse forced to carry an oversized load reportedly collapsed and died along the trail to the village of Supai, another eyewitness reported seeing a horse collapse on the same trail. We urge you to launch an investigation into these complaints, which would reveal an endemic problem that needs immediate attention and remediation.

The latest complaint describes a horse who was forced to continue the grueling trek, despite having collapsed earlier along the trail, on June 7. In a written statement to Erik CrazyBear, the eyewitness reports, “I was documenting the stream when the horse/ mule pack arrived. I walked towards them to find one on the floor with the harness wrapped tightly on [his or her] body. The man that was tending to them struggled to get [the] harness off. … The horse visibly did not want to get up. As [he or she] was getting up to walk away, the harness was caught on his leg.”

The report also describes the poor condition of the animals forced to carry heavy loads along the trail: “Many of the animals had scars, appeared worn down and tired. Those [who] were traveling in the canyon struggled to keep up being pulled by the rope in their mouth.”

Eyewitness accounts, photographs, and videos raising concerns about the well-being of these animals will continue to pile up unless you take immediate action. May I also please hear right away that you’ll suspend packing for the wrangler who handles these horses until the investigation is complete?

Best regards,

Tracy Reiman

Executive Vice President

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