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What if a stock animal goes down in the backcountry?
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Steve B
(geokite) - F

Locale: Southern California
What if a stock animal goes down in the backcountry? on 08/13/2012 10:31:50 MDT Print View

This is the message I just emailed to Yosemite NP regarding the above topic. Curious as to what people on this forum think the policy is.

"I recently completed the JMT trail and had a question (after hearing of an incident involving a four horse train going over Forester Pass a couple of days ago; the pannier bags on the last horse slide when the train was toward the top on the south side, causing the horse to fight for it's life from being pulled over the edge of the trail).

What are the regulations/policies for when a stock animal gets injured in the back country? If the animal must be put down, what happens to the remains? I imagine it's impractical to bury it; is it helicoptered out? Chopped up and removed? Left for scavenger animals (while hikers enjoy it's presence)? And how does a stock handler put the animal down? Is there an exception to the gun ban for stock handlers? Or do they carry a fatal injection?

Thanks for your response. I enjoyed my stay in your park!


Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: What if a stock animal goes down in the backcountry? on 08/13/2012 10:35:35 MDT Print View

And for those who might know... may I tack on another question?

When driving and accidentally hitting an animal -- wild deer or stock cattle -- what does one do?

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Stock Animal on 08/13/2012 11:07:28 MDT Print View

Packers that do trail maintenance may use dynamite. The remains are quickly eaten by

Some places they are buried.

On open range if you hit livestock, you have to purchase the animal.

Every packer I have met carries a firearm if allowed. In California that depends on
the land manager combined with the ever in flux state laws.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Stock Animal on 08/13/2012 11:39:54 MDT Print View


Sign me up.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: What if a stock animal goes down in the backcountry? on 08/13/2012 11:41:02 MDT Print View

Stephen, what does Yosemite National Park have to do with Forester Pass? -Nothing-

Why bother them with something that isn't their area?

SEKI has some rules and regulations for stock use there. They might know. But, what is it to you?

Also, it was not the last horse that was in trouble on August 9.


Steve B
(geokite) - F

Locale: Southern California
Hmm... on 08/13/2012 11:51:50 MDT Print View

True, Forester pass is not in Yosemite NP. I was using that as an example of a situation where stock might become injured or killed.

What is it to me? Simple curiosity.

The story was communicated to me one day after it happened from another hiker. I'm sure it is sooooo relevant that it wasn't the last horse that was in trouble. Was it the third horse, or the second horse? Wow, that would make such a difference!


Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: What if a stock animal goes down in the backcountry? on 08/13/2012 12:01:13 MDT Print View

It rots, basically as far as I could tell from horse and cattle carcasses on USFS and BLM land.

Coyotes gotta eat too.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Hmm... on 08/13/2012 12:55:41 MDT Print View

If you want to quote facts, do so. If you just want to mention guesswork, then just say so. If you just want to tie up the feds with more wasted time, then that is OK also.

second horse in a four-horse group


David T
(DaveT) - F
we are sorry. on 08/13/2012 13:03:22 MDT Print View

Sorry but -B.G.- has determined that your query to the NPS regarding stock animals does not meet his threshold for relevance.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Re: What if a stock animal goes down in the backcountry? on 08/13/2012 13:17:02 MDT Print View

Ben said "And for those who might know... may I tack on another question?

When driving and accidentally hitting an animal -- wild deer or stock cattle -- what does one do?"

Sorry a little off-topic but if on a road, even major highway, in "open-range", the driver would be liable for the livestock at least in NM. Even at sunset going around a corner into a wandering herd. If cattle prices are low....

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: What if a stock animal goes down in the backcountry? on 08/13/2012 13:17:05 MDT Print View

Waste not, want not :)

Horse meat!

Recipe ingredients

2 Tbsp. (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2¼ lb. (1 kg) horsemeat roast
Dijon mustard as needed
Salt and pepper to taste
Blue cheese-horseradish sauce
3 Tbsp. (45 mL) blue cheese, crumbled
3 Tbsp. (45 mL) sour cream
5 tsp. (25 mL) minced chives
5 tsp. (25 mL) prepared horseradish or wasabi (Japanese horseradish) powder
5 tsp. (25 mL) light mayonnaise*
Freshly ground peppercorns to taste


Preheat oven to 425°F (210°C).
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
Sear roast all sides.
Rub with mustard and season.
Roast 10 minutes.
Reduce temperature to 350°F (180°C) and continue to cook to desired degree of doneness.
Take meat out, cover loosely with foil and let stand.
In a bowl, mix sauce ingredients together.
In a skillet, bring sauce to a boil.
Lay sliced meat on a bed of sauce.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Stock Animal on 08/13/2012 13:18:42 MDT Print View

I've seen diagrams for disposing of a horse with dynamite. It showed many sticks placed in many places. Never knew if it was for real or a spoof.

My father in law had to bury a horse he loved when he was a boy. Took a lot of digging and he said he was very sad to lose his good friend. When I showed him the diagram for dynamiting a dead horse he couldn't even look at it....even though he had lost his horse 75 years ealier.

I heard they blew up a whale many years ago on the Washington or Oregon beach. Turned into a hazard as huge chunks of blubber rained down upon the on-lookers.

Steve B
(geokite) - F

Locale: Southern California
Hmm..., part 2 on 08/13/2012 13:22:15 MDT Print View

Does the specific example given in the original email really matter? Isn't the concept of a stock animal getting hurt/killed on the trail the point to the question, not the specifics of which horse had the issue? Excuse me for not specifying that I heard it second hand, the day after I passed the stock handler on the trail coming down from the pass. Wow.

I'll be sure to pass the question by you first next time before asking the NPS. Thanks for your help in this matter, it has been very enlightening. All your posts will now be read in a new light.

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Re:What if a stock animal goes down in the backcountry? on 08/15/2012 08:47:02 MDT Print View

In Colorado, only a law enforcement officer can put down wildlife hit by a car. A friend was coming out to see me once and hit a deer on I-70. This one was killed instantly. He called it in to the state patrol and within minutes a guy pulled up and asked him if he wanted the meat. He wasn't sure if the guy just happened along or was listening to a scanner or something. But when the officer arrived, he gave the guy the OK to take the deer.

Good question about pack animals dying in the backcountry. I have llamas and hadn't considered it. Don't think I'd eat llama, although some people do. I'd probably try to drag it out of sight so it wouldn't freak people out and let nature take it's course. I don't think there's anything wrong with it. If I died in the backcountry, it's possible it could happen to me and I wouldn't have a problem with it.

"Left for scavenger animals (while hikers enjoy it's presence)?"

They wouldn't enjoy it for long. My neighbor let some friends take (not going to call this one hunting) some elk on his property and they left huge gut piles after field cleaning them. I was thinking how nice it was going to be to look out and that for a while. By the next morning, it was all gone thanks to the coyotes and birds. 2 coyotes appeared to be almost synchronized. They were hauling it off and passing each other in the same spot each time.

Terry Trimble
(socal-nomad) - F

Locale: North San Diego county
What if a stock animal goes down in the backcountry? on 08/15/2012 10:19:54 MDT Print View

Back in the early 1970's our church boy scout troop first week long backpacking trip to the Sally Keyes lakes in the western sierras.
We hired a pack animals because their was 30 people in our group the scout master wanted to do community cooking on a four two burner coleman stoves and eat real food instead freeze dried food.

The head pack master carried a side arm for shooting rattle snakes to protect his pack mules. And if one did get hurt really bad he said he would shoot the mule in the head to put it out of it misery and drag it off the trail with another mule.

I was put in charge of the mules to feed and take care of them he had one rule don't ride the mules, he left the mules with us that he would pick up in one week to haul our gear back down.

My friend Peter and I rode the mules every where bare back I was fun as hell, Mules can climb straight up mountains and back down. When the pack master came back in one week he knew we had been riding his mules and was ticked off said we wrecked them for hauling charged the troop a $100.00 fine. What I did not understand was the mules hauled our equipment back down no problem.I just think he want a extra $100.00.

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: Re: What if a stock animal goes down in the backcountry? on 08/15/2012 11:03:54 MDT Print View

In parts of Northern Mexico, they sometimes use horse meat to make machaca (sorta like shredded jerky). It's added it to soups, stews, and tamales, and basically just rehydrated. You can get it at most Hispanic markets. Might be good for freezer bag meals. I'd go for the pork or cow stuff, though. The horse machaca I tried was really tough even when cooked.

I really like that dynamite thing though.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Machaca isn't always horse on 08/15/2012 15:35:38 MDT Print View

Actually Machaca can be about any left-over meat (usually beef and chicken) mixed with egg, etc... Been eating Machaca weekly for about 20 years just north of Mexico and you can find the burritos from El Paso to San Diego.

steven franchuk
Re: What if a stock animal goes down in the backcountry? on 08/19/2012 10:06:28 MDT Print View

I have seen two down horses (both from a distance) on hike one when I was very young and and one a year ago in the sierra. In both cases they were simply left for scavengers. In both cases they were fare enough of the trail and camp sites that most would not notice. In both cases it was not practical to bury the animal because there was little to no top soil.

As to the Oregon whale that was disposed of with dynamite you can find more information at

YOu can also watch the entire TV news story at

dan mchale
(wildlife) - MLife

Locale: Cascadia
Lye on 08/19/2012 14:51:28 MDT Print View

I was up at Bishop Pass a few years ago to climb Agassiz and a pack horse had to be put down. I did not see that part, but the packers, or maybe it was the Forest Service, had poured/covered it with Lye. It was up in the rocks on the switchbacks.

Edited by wildlife on 08/19/2012 14:52:33 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Pack it out on 08/20/2012 17:43:06 MDT Print View

It has always been beyond me why horsepackers are allowed to get away with that kind of cr@p. Dress, quarter, and pack the carcass out on other pack animals, including the offal in plastic bags. My one experience with that was on Shepherd Pass about 20 years ago. The animal was put down and left not5 yards from the trail, RIGHT at the source of Shepherd Creek. It stank to high heaven and fouled the water for at least the rest of the season. You could still faintly smell it the next year as well. I was beyond disgusted, but then that is just one more item on a long list of problems I have with horsepackers. I'd better quit right here.