Rescuers rescue bronco and foal trapped in rising waters of Lake Powell

The pair were taken to an animal shelter in Kanab.

(National Park Service) A wild horse and its foal, stranded for weeks on the shores of Lake Powell as water levels rose, were rescued and taken to an animal shelter last week, National Park Service officials said.

A wild horse and his foal, who were stranded on Lake Powell’s beach for weeks as water levels rose, were rescued and taken to a shelter last week, National Park Service officials said.

According to a database of the lake’s water levels, the mother and baby horse were in no danger of being swamped by the lake’s rising waters, which are about 43 feet higher than they were in June 2022. Instead, they were trapped in an area with little food and had “no way of escaping on their own,” officials said in a press release.

Typically, a horse is able to swim the quarter mile to an area with more forage, park officials said. However, they suspect that the mother stayed with her newborn after the birth until both were too weak for the journey.

Still, the animals were able to drink from the lake, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area staff have been monitoring and feeding the horses hay since at least June 7, park officials said.

The National Park Service does not typically interfere with wildlife, but the horses posed a safety hazard due to the beach’s popularity with campers and boaters, the release said.

After consulting with a local veterinarian, officers devised a plan to save the couple — a plan only possible due to the area’s proximity to a marina, the availability of a National Park Service boat that could accommodate a horse trailer, and the help of was the horse sanctuary of the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab.

Working together, a team of National Park Service officials, members of the Navajo Nation and horse sanctuary workers were able to calm and transport the animals, which were then taken to the Kanab Conservation Area. But the mother horse didn’t make it easy, said Jen Reid, the shelter’s manager.

(Best Friends Animal Society) A team tries to direct a stranded wild horse and his foal into a horse trailer on a National Park Service boat at Lake Powell in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

When the horse was first hit with a tranquilizer dart, it didn’t take the sedative. Every time her foal whinnied, she got back up, Reid said.

“She’s a very good mom,” Reid said. “We had our plan A and some ideas for plan B. In the end we settled on plan C.”

Both now reside at Best Friends Sanctuary in Kanab where they are being rehabilitated. Once the foal is weaned from mother’s milk, it will be screened for adoption. If they cannot be adopted, they will be placed at the shelter.

The shelter is well-versed in equine rehabilitation, but this is different, Reid said, adding that the rescue would not have been possible without teamwork.

“Saving one off a beach in Lake Powell?” said Reid. “Yes, that’s definitely new.”

The horses are currently recovering and getting used to a nutritious diet at the shelter. Staff have been relatively reticent so far, Reid said, because the horses aren’t yet used to human company.

However, the staff at the shelter have given the pair a name. The mother’s name is Emma B., after John Powell’s wife – the man for whom Lake Powell is named. The foal is named Marina to commemorate her boat trip.

Justin Scaccy

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