BLM halts roundup of horses

The Bureau of Land Management indefinitely halted plans to remove a wild horse herd of about 100 animals south of Rangely, after previously postponing the roundup until this summer because of a legal challenge.

The agency said this week it withdrew last year’s decision to round up what it calls the West Douglas herd so its White River Field Office can take a comprehensive look at wild-horse management.

The office also oversees horses in what it calls the Piceance-East Douglas area west of Meeker. It still is considering a possible roundup there this year, although that roundup could be canceled after the broader-scale review, agency spokeswoman Vanessa Delgado said.

She said Jim Cagney, who will begin work as the BLM’s northwest district manager in March, wants to sit down with horse advocates, agricultural representatives and others.

The BLM says the area the West Douglas herd occupies, west of Colorado Highway 139, is not appropriate for wild horses. In 2009, a judge found a legal flaw in the BLM’s environmental review.  After continued legal challenge by horse-advocacy groups, it pushed off the roundup until this summer.

However, the agency last fall removed 73 horses that had wandered beyond their designated Piceance-East Douglas herd area. That roundup also was challenged, but a judge cleared the way to remove them,  most of which were made available for adoption.

The BLM believes the population within that area exceeds the desirable level. It plans an environmental review for this year’s proposed roundup and will gather initial comment at a meeting March 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the BLM office in Meeker. The first part will be a hearing to address the use of helicopters and motorized vehicles to herd the horses.

Written comments will be accepted through March 4 at the BLM, White River Field Office, 220 E. Market St., Meeker, CO 81641 or e-mailed to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Indicate “White River HMA Scoping Comments” in the address.


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