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Wild horses test negative for equine infectious anemia

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CATOOSA, Okla. (AP) _ Sixty-three wild horses have tested negative for an incurable equine infection, allowing veterinarians to cancel plans to destroy the horses.

The results of blood tests taken Wednesday came back negative for equine infectious anemia, according to Dr. Carey Floyd, an area veterinarian for the State Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

The horses were tested when they were brought to Oklahoma from public lands in the western United States about two years ago, said Bob Mitchell, the state wild horse and burro program manager for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The Bureau of Land Management brought the horses to the Robson Ranch. The Hughes Ranch, south of Bartlesville, which leases the Robson land, is also home to an estimated 2,000 horses.

The Hughes Ranch contracts with the Bureau of Land Management to provide pasture for the horses while they live out their lives. The government also reimburses ranchers for the cost of caring for each animal.

John F. Hughes of the Hughes Ranch said this is the ``first bump'' they've had in the 14 years he has been involved with the program.

Floyd notified the Bureau of Land Management in May of a domestic horse that had to be euthanized Memorial Day after contracting the incurable viral disease. That horse was kept near the wild horses, officials said.

Infected horses remain carriers for life. Some horses become acutely ill, while others show no signs of the disease.

The Bureau of Land Management created a new barrier within its enclosed pasture across a county road from the infected horse to establish a standard 200-yard buffer zone from the last known case of equine infectious anemia.

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