BLM is hosting a spring roundup of wild horses in North West Colo.
DENVER — The Colorado Bureau of Land Management plans to round up feral horses in the Piceance-East Douglas herd management area beginning Thursday.
The roundup in the area, which is southwest of Meeker and east of State Highway 139, was previously scheduled for September, but the BLM White River Field Office decided to expedite the roundup due to conditions. wild horses in the area.
“We saw horses in real pain in March and April,” said BLM Colorado Northwest District Manager Elijah Waters. “We were getting quite a bit of feedback from the public to do something about it, and we thought the best option was to get together as soon as possible for the horses in poor condition and for the horses that will stay and need roughage before going into next winter.”
There are currently more than 1,385 feral horses in the Piceance-East herd management area, and the appropriate management level for the area is 135 to 235 horses, according to BLM officials.
The raid will take place in two stages. Beginning June 16, BLM will conduct bait trap operations, where horses are lured with food and water, with the aim of rounding up malnourished horses. In the second stage, horsemen and helicopters will carry out drive-trap operations starting around July 15.
“It is imperative that we bring the wild horse population to the appropriate management level to preserve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and multi-use relationship in this area,” said Bill Mills, field manager at the White River Field Office. . .
The use of helicopters for rounding up wild horses has has caused controversy in the past. Supporters have called the roundup method inhumane, although BLM has maintained that its collection operations are “safe, efficient and successful” and in line with overall animal welfare policy.
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The raids were also called into question after 145 horses died at the Wild Horse and Burro facility of the City of Cañon Office of Land Management due to a strain of equine influenza and streptococcus.
A team comprised of staff from the Colorado State Veterinarian’s Office, the Colorado Department of Corrections and the BLM is reviewing the events surrounding the outbreak. A voluntary quarantine remains in place at Cañon City facilities through July 1.
A report obtained by Denver7 in May stated BLM violated at least a dozen policies, including not vaccinating horses that died of the disease even though it could have been done when the horses were originally microchipped. BLM blamed staffing issues for inconsistencies in adhering to its own policies.
Following the report, Polis called for future roundups to be delayed “to consider more humane options.” June 13, Representative Joe Neguse also called for a delay in future raids.
“The American Wild Horse Campaign is alarmed by the BLM’s sudden decision to ramp up capture operations so soon after Governor Polis and Congressman Neguse called for a pause in this large-scale roundup,” said Suzanne Roy, the group’s executive director. “We believe that an independent assessment of the condition of the Piceance horses and their habitat, including water availability in the HMA, would be a more measured and appropriate next step than accelerating a gathering of unpopular and potentially dangerous helicopters.”
Horses rounded up in the Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area will be taken to the BLM Wild Horse Handling Facility in Utah for adoption, sale or long-term care in off-range pastures.
After the announcement to postpone the date of the roundup, Conor Cahill, a spokesperson for Polis, issued the following statement:
“The Governor expresses his deep disappointment with the decision to move forward with the costly and unnecessary roundup of our wild horses. In addition to providing the Office of Land Management with numerous cost effective and humane alternative management methods, he gave well-substantiated reasons to reconsider or modify the roundup.While the BLM appears to be moving forward with an accelerated plan, it’s not only obvious that they won’t seriously consider better alternatives, giving only a few weeks for the bait and trap methods, but the agency really doesn’t care to listen to stakeholders first before moving forward, with this announcement coming before their session. eavesdropping Governor invites Coloradans to inform the BLM of specific concerns related to the impending roundup Ideally, public input will be successful in persuading the BLM to reconsider its plans and make reforms instead s important to ensure humane and much more profitable management of our iconic wild horses. The Governor raised concerns in his letter about more horses going to the Canon City facility and BLM informed our office that they have no plans to send additional horses from roundups to Colorado facilities. »
BLM is hosting a Town Hall on Wild Horse Management in Colorado from 5-6 p.m. Wednesday, which will include a question-and-answer period. They will discuss the next roundup and the next steps for setting up Cañon City. Anyone interested can pre-registration for the meetingand a link will be sent to participate.