Border bandits

BLM plans roundup of Wyoming mustangs near Moffat County line

Trespass laws are serious business in Colorado. Even wild horses can't get away with the crime.

Each winter, wild horses from the Adobe Town herd management area in Wyoming migrate across the state line, often pushed south by harsh weather.

The horses settle in the Powder Wash area of Moffat County, where they become the problem of the Bureau of Land Management's Little Snake Field Office.

In Adobe Town, the Rawlins Field Office manages the herd.

Because of jurisdiction laws, Rawlins BLM staff can't simply cross the state line and gather the horses, said Chuck Reed, a wild horse specialist with the Rawlins Field Office.

If weather permits, Reed's office plans to gather some of the problem horses during the first weeks of February. But they'll gather them on the Wyoming side of the border.

This winter has been mild, so the horses haven't been forced into any major migrations yet, Reed said.

The migrations haven't been a significant problem since 2003, when a large number of animals moved into Powder Wash, an area that isn't managed for wild horses.

In 2003, The Little Snake office had to obtain a grant to gather the 500 horses that had migrated into the area, Little Snake Field Office Director John Husband said.

Although the jurisdictions differ, Rawlins attempts to help the Little Snake Field Office as much as it can when horses cross the border, Reed said.

"We do feel like we have made significant progress since February 2003, and that scale and type of thing shouldn't happen again," he said.

During the past two years, his office has gathered more than 1,000 horses.

But between 20 and 70 horses continue to migrate from Wyoming into Powder Wash, Husband said.

February's gather will target horses that live near the state border, Reed said. The herd is too far from the office for BLM staff to target specific problem horses, as they have done with other herds.

The horses will be offered for adoption or relocated to sanctuaries. The point, Reed said, is to remove the horses from the area so they won't migrate to Colorado and once again become problems for the Little Snake Field Office.

Rawlins planned to gather the horses in late October, but weather allowed only a small roundup. If weather again obstructs the gather, the BLM will round up the horses during the summer, when the herd will be culled to its targeted management level of 700 head.

"In theory, if we can keep populations inside the areas where it's appropriate, then they'll stay there and won't go places they're not supposed to," Reed said.

The horses in the Adobe Town herd exhibit a variety of colors, with roans and grays predominating. Horses range in size from 14 to 16 hands. The management area encompasses 472,812 acres, stretching from Interstate 80 to the Colorado border.

The Little Snake Field Office scheduled a wild horse roundup for the Sand Wash herd in the fall. At that time, the herd will be culled down to 162 head.

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