The horses deaths could be caused by a virus brought in by migrating birds. Another possibility is a poisonous plant. The horses have foraged the same area for over 100 years without a problem. The horses choose what they eat most delicately, down to a blade of grass. Still, it's perhaps possible that somehow some of the poisonous plants were ingested since they have infested the pasture areas. Weve closed the mini pastures until we know more.
This emergency plan has been presented to the Ministry of the Environment for immediate implementation.
1- Major increase in observation of the horses
2- Need fuel to find outside stallions and increase observation
3- Get pilots using TC airport to help with spotting outside stallions
4- Get outside stallions into their part of the Preserve ASAP
5- Expedite permit for dart rifle
6- Find out if any Bahamas vets are familiar with symptoms (attached)
7- Possible fuel assistance for Dr. Bailey
8- Expedite Dr. Mautinos arrival as soon as we have dates.
1. Immediately increase watch over the mares during daylight hours, observe them closely and frequently for any possible symptoms. This demands overtime on the part of the workmen as they are already hard pressed with routine maintenance chores that cannot be neglected. (i.e. fencing in mini pasture for the mares). Any chance of getting a third man on to help with maintenance while the other men rotate very increased observation with maintenance?
2. Need fuel for the tractor, to make an immediate excursion to section F of the farm to check on well being of the two stallions who tend to stay in the area. This should be done every other day at the least under current state of emergency. More fuel needed as the search area is over a thousand acres and a man will be pulled off maintenance and increased mare observation. Need driver as Im up on top looking for the horses. We do not have manpower for daily observation of the stallions. Temporary help until they are moved into the Preserve?
3. Anything that could get an observer into the air to try to locate the third stallion who has split off from the other two would be very helpful. Get word out to pilots using TC airport to keep an eye out for and immediately report via radio (and then someone at radio control to telephone me) sightings of one white horse and one dark horse together, and a brown and white off by himself, perhaps in the forested area south of the farm.
4. To get the outside stallions into their section of the Preserve, they will either have to be rounded up and walked in (though they will fight this) demanding a lot of manpower, and possible low dose tranquilization, or they will have to be tranquilized and put on a trailer. In the case of Hadar who is over 20years old, this will be especially hazardous. Achernar has damaged lungs from being exposed to chemical dust years ago, is also fragile. It is, for me, an impossible call to suggest whether this be done now or to wait for Dr. Mautino. We will need a great deal of very soft padding if the trailer proves to be necessary. And it will take two trips. This will be a day long operation at best and will demand yet another man to keep the stallions under the same close observation schedule as the mares. No, the horses cannot be put together at this time.
5. Should they be indicated, the inoculations can only be delivered by blow pipe to the inside mares, and by dart rifle to the outside stallions. An application for permit to keep the dart rifle on Preserve premises was submitted two months ago, can this be expedited?
6. Find out if any member of the vet board, or a vet in Nassau, has seen any of the symptoms (listed below); see if they match an extant disease such as West Nile virus. Dr. Mautino already has the list for her comments. Can the horses be inoculated or is inoculation contraindicated if the horses have already been exposed.
7. Fuel allotment for Dr. Bailey if he has to make more trips to the Preserve whether for observation, treatment or necropsy. It will be necessary for him to take many samples of various organs should there be more deaths, and to do a careful inspection of mares reproductive organs. Anything that could expedite shipment of the samples to labs in the U.S. needed.
8. Expedite Dr. Mautinos arrival as soon as she is free to come.