Court allows roundup of 40-50 wild horses
Several weeks of trucking water to wild horses south of Rangely appears to be nearing its end as a federal court ruled Tuesday that the Bureau of Land Management could round up the 40 to 50 horses affected by the drought.
The agency had been delivering water to two groups of horses on Texas Mountain in the West Douglas Herd Area after officials discovered the springs on which the horses depend dried up in this year’s extreme drought conditions.
The agency has claimed the area is unsuitable for wild horses over the long-term due to what they see as a lack of adequate summer range.
Advocacy groups have challenged their findings and the necessity of trucking in water.
The BLM since 2007 has been trying to get the court’s permission to remove the horses in the West Douglas area, which, unlike the Piceance/East Douglas Herd Management Area across Colorado Highway 139, is not officially managed as wild horse range by the agency.
“The West Douglas wild horses have endured many droughts in the past,” said veterinarian Don Moore, on behalf of the advocacy group Cloud Foundation, which said Moore “has watched the wild horses in the area for over 50 years.”
“If a drought was going to kill these horses, it would have done so a long time ago,” Moore said.
Tuesday’s decision does not apply to the whole West Douglas population but only the 40 to 50 horses that have been most impacted by the drought. The decision also prevents any action until July 10.
For now, the BLM still does not have definitive, set plans for the emergency gather.
“We’re still looking at a lot of different options,” said BLM spokesman Christopher Joyner.
Joyner said helicopters would not be used in a gather and that they would instead bait the horses into corrals over several days in order to limit the amount of stress on the animals.
Members of the general public would probably not be allowed due to remoteness of the location and the high stress the horses are already under, he said.