Starvation is a brutal way to die. It's just as difficult to watch.
And, that's what opponents of the Bureau of Land Management's decision to relocate wild horses should consider.
Though those horses will never run wild on the range again, they will also not die because drought conditions have stunted their food source. Nor will other animal -- elk and antelope -- die because wild horses have consumed their graze.
Nearly $400,000 will be spent by the federal government to collect 500 wild horses that have migrated from their overpopulated refuge in Wyoming to drought-stricken Colorado. Less than one-third of that money is used to actually gather and transport the horses. The remainder is used to process adoption papers for those horses that can find homes and to lease ranges where the remaining horses can live out their days.
The horses don't have thousands of square miles to roam, but they aren't caged, they aren't butchered and they aren't starved.
They die natural deaths.
During the gather process, the horses are gently harried along by a low flying helicopter that directs them into a "trap" -- which is a corral. The horses are loaded into a truck and transferred to a holding pen to give them time to calm, get adjusted and eat. There they are inspected by a veterinarian. Those unfit to travel long distances -- either too old or pregnant -- are taken to Rock Springs for processing and adoption.
Healthy horses are transported to Canon City for processing and adoption.
It's a humane process and one that's organized by people who love horses and love the land and want to see the best for both.
There's only so much the land can support and it's the BLM's job to ensure neither animals or the environment are suffering.
We think that gathering these wild horses, knowing the expense of keeping them considering the low likelihood of adoption, was the best decision that could have been made under these harsh circumstances.
We've been present at the gather and have seen the care that is put into the process, the planning that is done and the public input that is sought.
BLM officials made a difficult choice, but did it to protect the best interest of all those affected -- including the horses.