MORE than 30 wild horses and ponies face being put down after they were taken from a bitterly cold mountainside.
All the horses were taken from the Cooley commonage as part of a two-day operation by Louth County Council and the Department of Agriculture.
All of them were assessed as being underweight and in poor condition. They had been living on the mountains and foraging for food in the cold weather.
The joint operation saw 34 horses and ponies being taken into a safe pound.
They have all now been checked for ownership and pictures of them placed in garda stations in Cooley. They must be claimed or face being euthanised.
Of the 34, just two have been claimed, another two may be owned and just one had a microchip installed. The Department of Agriculture requires all horses to be micro-chipped and have a passport.
Louth county vet Garrett Shine said he has dealt with several distressing incidents.
"I have had to put down a horse that was dying on the side of the road and earlier this month we had to remove a dead horse found near the top of one of the mountains."
Some of the horses and ponies roaming on the Cooley Peninsula mountainside commonage "are dumped" and the main problem is uncontrolled breeding because stallions are roaming freely, said Joe Duffy of Holly's Horse Haven.
It is the only cross-border horse and pony rescue centre in the country.