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Diseased Wild Horses Euthanized

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BEAUFORT — North Carolina health officials euthanized74 wild horses Wednesday. The animals were put down after testingpositive for what officials call an AIDS-like blood disease.

While equine infectious anemia cannot be contracted by humans, stateveterinarians say the disease threatened the state's horse population. The74 horses were taken from a barrier island near Beaufort and were givenlethal injections Wednesday morning in Sampson County.

Opponents like Gaye McKeithan say the euthanization was unnecessary.

"It was unfortunate that we had to take this step of putting these horses down," said Agriculture Commissioner Jim Graham. "But it wasin the best interest of the horse industry in the state."

One-hundred-six wild horses still roam the barrier island, butactivists are worried that concern over this disease could further reducetheir numbers.

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