Boom in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Could Be an Exploding Horse
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - This story began as an ‘are you serious?’ question when this reporter was told by an employee of a local ranch resort that if you want to take horses into the iconic Bob Marshall Wilderness, you should also pack along a stick of dynamite in case a horse is injured or killed, then the carcass can be blown up.
KGVO News immediately contacted Jamie Jonkel, Wildlife Management Specialist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks about the truth of that statement.
His answer was a firm ‘no’ however...
Jonkel did say that horses and other pack animals can be injured or killed on a wilderness trail, and the carcasses must be disposed of in a way that won’t draw every predator in the area.
If you Hear a Big Boom in the 'Bob', It Might be an Exploding Horse
“One of the worst things that can happen to you when you go into the Bob Marshall Wilderness or any wilderness in Montana, Wyoming or Idaho, sometimes you end up losing a horse,” began Jonkel. “They can get field poked by a stick and bleed out on the trail. A lot of times at the picket line they'll get twisted in rope and strangle themselves. You'll get broken legs where you'll have to shoot them. Sometimes they'll get kicked by another horse in the liver and you'll find them dead in the morning.”
Here Jonkel said plainly that the trail rider doesn’t have to carry explosives, however, it is vital that the Forest Service be notified as soon as possible.
Jonkel says Let the Professionals Handle the Explosives
“If that happens to you, you don't have to carry your own stick of dynamite,” he said. “All you have to do is get a hold of the Forest Service and let them know as soon as you can, and what they will do is come into the camp or into the site and try to remove the horse by skidding it off the trail or out of the camp to a remote area, and then quite often they will blow it up.”
Jonkel provided more details on how Forest Service personnel will dispose of the carcass so that predators won’t descend on the area.
“They'll use that explosive cord and they'll just wrap the entire carcass up in that explosive cord and then blow it up and it sort of mists the carcass,” he said. “However, you should not do that on your own. The Forest Service actually trains a lot of their packers who are licensed to use explosives. There's a fellow in at the Spotted Bear Ranger District, a fellow in the Augusta Choteau, a fellow in Lincoln and a fellow in Seeley Lake where that’s a part of their job and they go through training each year, where they practice and learn how to explode carcasses.”
Explosives Experts can also be Called upon by Farmers and Ranchers
Jonkel said farmers and ranchers will sometimes contact the Forest Service in case of livestock that are killed on their property and the carcasses must be disposed of.
“Occasionally, you know, lightning strike will kill 15 to 20 cows or a whole bunch of cows will die from larkspur poisoning or maybe some arsenic poisoning from an old mine, you know, it bubbles up in water pond and, and the public can also ask folks with demolition skills to come in and blow them up.”
Click here to read a fascinating article on this very topic released in 1995 and then republished in 2022 on a website called ‘Task and Purpose’.