Nearly 200 Feral Horses Die in Arizona

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Emma Donnelly, Contributor

The extreme drought in the southwestern United States caused the death of approximately 191 feral horses on Navajo land in Northern Arizona. On May 5, 2018, the dead horses were discovered by members of the Navajo Nation, who in March had declared a drought emergency.

Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez described the disaster by stating, “These animals were searching for water to stay alive. In the process, they unfortunately burrowed themselves into the mud and couldn’t escape because they were so weak.” In an effort to stave off the effects of dehydration, some of the horses had buried themselves up to their necks in the mud at the stock pond in Grey Mountain, according to Nina Chester, staff assistant to President Trump.

The drought is also affecting more than 6 million people in Arizona, almost the entire population of the state, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Integrated Drought Information System program.

The tragic deaths of the horses dramatically illustrates the extreme weather conditions that have occurred throughout the world in recent years. The recent six-year dry spell in Arizona has been the worst in nearly 700 years. This new and disturbing record is an unprecedented string of consecutive years of drier than normal weather — without wet-year interruptions. This data comes from studies of tree-ring data that is used to estimate flows from the rivers that provide water to metro Phoenix and other parts of central Arizona.

The rarity of this extreme weather has raised concern that it may be the result of global warming. Instances such as this are a stark reminder that we must take care of our planet if we are to survive.