BLM plans to remove 50 horses in Book Cliffs
The Bureau of Land Management hopes to remove up to 50 wild horses from the Book Cliffs this year, using bait or water to lure and trap them, a method never before used for the herd there. However, it’s not ruling out the use of a helicopter as well if needed.
The agency is seeking comments and planning a public meeting in connection with the plan, which it hopes to carry out starting as soon as August.
The agency said about 155 horses are estimated to be using the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range north of Grand Junction, and that number can be expected to increase about 15 percent per year through reproduction, even with fertility controls being used there. It has determined 90 to 150 horses to be the proper population level, and said the horses have been heavily grazing key areas of the range for most of the past several years.
“Drought conditions along with an excess of wild horses has led to the high utilization levels, which, if continued will lead to deteriorated rangeland conditions,” the agency said in a preliminary environmental assessment.
The BLM also plans to hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday regarding the use of aircraft and motorized vehicles in managing wild horses and burros. Some wild horse advocates object to using helicopters because they can scare animals and contribute to injuries or fatalities.
The agency says using water and bait such as hay to draw horses to areas where they can be trapped with portable panels has been successful in other areas, but remains unproven for the Book Cliffs herd.
“The BLM prefers to exclusively use bait and/or water trapping for this gather, but it is necessary to have the option of using a helicopter to ensure that the purpose and need is met,” its environmental assessment says.
Horses removed from the range would be taken to a facility in the Grand Junction area to be prepared for adoption. Those not adopted would be taken to a site in Cañon City.
Fertility controls will continue to be used in the herd area, the BLM says.