Hay Airlifted to Starving Horses in Montana

More on PawNation: animal abuse, animal rescue, horses, Operation Home Place
Authorities and volunteers near Billings, Mont., are coordinating an unprecedented livestock rescue effort involving both trucks and air support, reports the Billings Gazette. Since Thursday morning, a helicopter donated by Billings Flying Service has been airlifting bales of hay to 500-700 malnourished horses on a foreclosed Montana ranch and the surrounding area.

Operation Home Place
Much of the airlift's efforts have been focused on a group of 350 horses, fenced inside a 2,000-acre pasture with dwindling food and water sources, that appear to be in the worst overall condition. Reuters reports that hunger forced the remainder of the herd to break through the fences, where they're now scattered across the 40,000 acres of what was once the Home Place Ranch.

Heading up the operation is Justin Mills, of Northern International Livestock Exposition (NILE), who is coordinating the effort under the Nile Foundation. Offers have reportedly come pouring in from all over the nation to buy hay or otherwise support the effort.

According to Mills, the animals receiving the benefit of air-dropped hay are those inside the enclosure. Government officials are reportedly working on a plan to round up the hundreds of remaining horses.

Criminal Charges
In these tough economic times, it's not only homes and businesses that people are walking away from, but livestock as well. According to local authorities, that's exactly what appears to have happened when owner James Leachman's prestigious breeding operation went out of business and he lost the Home Place Ranch to foreclosure in 2010.

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