Sunday, February 19, 2012

Texans Ponder Drought's Long-term Equine Impact - Full Article

by: Pat Raia
January 30 2012, Article # 19518

Drought conditions have been bearing down on Texas for more than a year. Now with little relief in sight, some rescue operators wonder how the persistent lack of rain will affect their missions and the future of the horse industry in that state.

According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions--an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that studies climate change and energy policy issues--Texas' 2011 drought represents the worst one-year dry spell since 1895. And though some rain has fallen in some parts of the state, Brian Fuchs, climatologist for the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska, believes dry conditions in Texas are probably not likely to significantly abate soon.

"In the past 60 to 90 days parts of Texas have had some pretty decent rains and top soil moisture levels are increasing," Fuchs said. "Most of this relief has happened in northern Texas, but central and southern Texas have not seen this type of relief."

Fuchs said that predictions indicate drought conditions will continue in Texas through 2012. Some Texas A&M University climatologists speculate the drought could persist until 2020.

Jennifer Williams, PhD, president and executive director of Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society, in College Station, said the dismal long-term outlook is bad news for rescue operators, law enforcement agencies, and horse owners already overburdened by drought-connected animal care costs.

Williams said rescuers are increasingly bearing the brunt of drought-related horse care issues: spikes in hay and grain costs are forcing increasing numbers of hard-pressed owners to surrender their animals to rescuers...

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