46 wild horses caught from Piceance herd
The Bureau of Land Management on Thursday rounded up 46 wild horses as it began work on trying to remove up to 100 horses that have wandered outside the designated Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area.
The agency said it expects the work to last less than a week.
BLM spokesman David Boyd said no horses were hurt or injured as a result of the operation.
“One horse with a severe, pre-existing leg injury and infection was euthanized following the on-scene vet’s recommendation,” he said.
The BLM is primarily using a helicopter to drive horses into traps from private lands in the Cathedral Creek area south of Rangely.
Boyd said the operation likely will shift from Cathedral Creek to other areas after officials see if they can find anymore there today.
“It’s rugged country that can make it hard to find horses,” he said.
The Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area is east of Colorado Highway 139, south of Colorado Highway 64 and west of Colorado Highway 13.
A private landowner had asked the agency to move wild horses that have been damaging resources and causing harm to domestic animals on the landowner’s ranch.
The BLM plans to transport horses that are removed to its Canon City holding facility, where they will be made available for adoption or sale.
The BLM says the gather hasn’t received a lot of interest from activists or protesters. Boyd said there was no last-minute legal challenge, and no activists or protesters were on the scene Thursday. The roundup activity is difficult for the public to watch because it’s on private land, and only minimally visible from BLM land.
Wild horse advocates have voiced concerns more generally about the potential fate of thousands of animals the BLM is trying to round up from Colorado and other states this year. They fear that horses could end up being killed if Congress agrees to the BLM’s request to lift a current prohibition on destroying healthy wild horses and burros or selling them for slaughter.
In July, the House Appropriations Committee approved a provision allowing destruction of healthy, unadopted wild horses and burros, but continuing to prohibit their sale for processing into commercial products. Earlier this month, the House Rules Committee prevented introduction of an amendment to protect wild horses in 2018 appropriations language, the American Wild Horse Campaign said in a news release.
The BLM has been dealing with growing numbers of wild horses in the West, and an inability to adopt out all the animals it removes from public lands. Taxpayers now pay about $50 million a year for the care of nearly 50,000 horses and burros in holding facilities.