Rain eases concerns for horses; roundup halted

Bureau of Land Management officials will revisit a watering site Tuesday to check up on wild horses after recently suspending an emergency roundup.

In mid-July, the agency began to remove up to 50 horses from the West Douglas Herd Area south of Rangely because of concern the horses might die of thirst. The bureau has since suspended the roundup, after catching 20 of the animals, because of about 10 days of on-and-off rain.

“That’s the exact scenario we were hoping for, that the horses could get other water,” BLM spokesman Christopher Joiner said.

Nineteen of the horses have been shipped to the BLM’s wild horse facility in Cañon City, and the agency hopes to be able to adopt them out. A 20th horse, believed to be an orphan, was placed in foster care. Joiner said a mare thought to possibly have been that horse’s mother was found to have died of natural causes before the roundup. No animals died during the gather operation, in which the agency used water to attract the animals and then gradually surrounded them with panels.

The BLM already had been providing the animals water out of fear that their natural water sources had dried up.

The trapping occurred on the southeast side of Texas Mountain. It could resume if dry enough conditions resume.

The BLM has been involved in a court battle with some wild horse advocates over whether it can remove all horses from the West Douglas area, which it considers unsuitable range for the animals. The bureau obtained a federal court order allowing the emergency removal of 50 of the animals. Opponents of the action say horses have weathered past droughts just fine.

Fruita resident Toni Moore, special projects coordinator for the Cloud Foundation wild horse advocacy group, said she’s concerned that the BLM has only suspended rather than ended the gather.

“This could be an open-ended removal, which is a real grave concern for us, for the rest of the year,” Moore said.

Cloud Foundation Executive Director Ginger Kathrens said the 20 captured horses “are 20 more horses that the public had to pay for to be removed, and if they have to be warehoused it’s 20 more that go on the dole and become wards of the federal government and are maintained off their legal home by the taxpayers.”


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