A helicopter helps guide wild horses during a Bureau of Land Management roundup in October 2008 in the Sandwash herd management area North of Maybell. The BLM will conduct a similar roundup of wild horses southwest of Meeker starting in mid-October.

Courtesy Photo

A helicopter helps guide wild horses during a Bureau of Land Management roundup in October 2008 in the Sandwash herd management area North of Maybell. The BLM will conduct a similar roundup of wild horses southwest of Meeker starting in mid-October.

BLM planning wild horse roundup


The Bureau of Land Management is planning to gather about 238 wild horses in two areas southwest of Meeker starting in mid-October.

David Boyd, BLM public affairs specialist for the northwest district, said the agency is removing the horses to maintain a healthy wild horse population in the area.

The BLM seeks to manage wild horses in balance with other land and resource uses in the area such as cattle grazing, wildlife, energy development and recreation, Boyd said.

The wild horses to be gathered are located outside of the Piceance–East Douglas herd management area.

There are two horse herds the BLM will gather — one on the west side of Colorado Highway 139 and another on the east side of the highway outside of the herd management area, Boyd said.

The last time horses were gathered in that area was 2006, Boyd said.

Boyd said wild horses in Colorado are domestic, North American breeds that are not native wildlife. Wild horses do not have a natural predator to effectively control their population, he said.

“If the herd is healthy, about every four years their numbers will double, and so it is an exponential growth rate,” he said. “The most effective way we have found to control their numbers to keep them from being over populated is to do these gathers.”

The BLM’s goal is to conduct wild horse roundups before a significant over-population problem occurs, the range becomes damaged or the horses starve, Boyd said.

“Sometimes people will ask, ‘Why are you doing this gather? The horses are not starving,’” Boyd said. “We don’t want to get there. We are trying to manage for a healthy wild horse herd.”

Gathered horses are placed in the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program. One of the program’s goals is to allow residents to adopt the horses, Boyd said.

“One of the challenges we have is that we have far more horses in captivity now than we can adopt,” he said.

Despite having a hard time finding homes for the horses, Boyd said the BLM would not kill the animals. If they are not adopted, the horses will be sent to live in long-term pastures in the Midwest paid for by the BLM, Boyd said.

“Sometimes there is a misunderstanding that we are clearing out the last wild horse from the range and we won’t have any more,” Boyd said. “But, that is not what we are doing at all.”

Boyd said horses can be at risk of injury or death during the gathering.

“That is one of the things that is controversial with gathers,” he said. “Typically … mortality related to the gather is less than one percent, but it can happen.”

The wild horse gathering is scheduled to begin Oct. 11 with about 138 wild horses east of Highway 139, Boyd said.

The gathering of the 100 wild horses west of Highway 139, called the West Douglas Herd, is scheduled to begin Oct. 20.

The West Douglas Herd’s habitat is not as good as the habitat of the herd east of the highway, Boyd said.

The West Douglas Herd is smaller, which can create genetic problems over the years. Moreover, Boyd said the area is not suitable to manage horses.

“We just don’t feel we can manage a herd that is large enough to be genetically viable in that area and still be in balance with other uses, grazing and wildlife,” he said.

There are four wild horse herd management areas in Colorado. The Sandwash herd management area is located north of Maybell. A gathering of Sandwash area wild horses was last conducted in 2008, Boyd said.


taxslave 6 years, 7 months ago

Rounding them up means to slaughter them. They are slaughtering the wild horses all across american.


takemehomekathleen 6 years, 7 months ago

copy of my letter to the BLM on this issue PART I: To Kent E Walter, Field Manager - BLM White River Field Office, Western Colorado

You are such a hypocrite. In your signed Record of Decision of 9/3/2010 to DECIMATE the West Douglas HMA herd, removing every last horse, you cite genetic viability as as reason for this action. On page 3 and 4 of this ROD, you state that to be genetically viable, a herd must have a minimum of 200 animals and because there are only 85 in that herd, this is reason to just completely remove them - they are no longer genetically viable, even though they have obviously survived and thrived there for at least 35 years (since 1975 as per your document narrative on the history of how they were "stranded" in the west). How difficult would it have been to introduce a dozen horses from Piceance/East Douglas to address genetic issues? No, you're looking for any excuse to remove them, it's very clear.

And then, further, in the accompanying FONSI, you state that BLM wants to concentrate its "wild horse management" efforts on the herd in Piceance/East Douglas HMA because that is a better environment for them. Then you go on to issue a press release that states you will be removing all but 125-135 horses from the Piceance/East Douglas HMA in order to "maintain a healthy wild horse herd" because there are too many in that HMA. So now, suddenly for the Piceance/East Douglas horses, genetic viability minimums are no longer applicable? How exactly does that work, to talk out of both sides of your mouth at the same time and to sound like a vicious scheming horse hater?

So I suppose you will tell me your decision to nearly decimate the Piceance/East Douglas herd down to a level not far above the NON-VIABLE population you just cited for the West Douglas herd is not really BLM PRESSING that Piceance/East Douglas herd to GENETIC NON-VIABILITY by leaving ONLY 125 horses when you have just stated that 200 are required for viability? That kind of response would surely put you squarely back into the position of TALKING OUT OF BOTH SIDES OF YOUR MOUTH AGAIN, firmly back into hypocrite territory.

What a HYPOCRITE. I cannot believe the audacity of your agency to state such outright LIES and HYPOCRISY in official documents and to act upon this blatantly antagonistic and obviously planned attack against America's Wild Horse population.


takemehomekathleen 6 years, 7 months ago

PART II Letter to BLM White River Field Office: It's plain as the nose on your face what you folks are doing - citizens are not as stupid as you'd like to believe and I do feel certain that BLM's days of aggressive assault upon wild horses are numbered because every day more citizens learn of this vicious campaign, are sickened by it and call on their legislators to stop you. Maybe it will even mean that management at BLM will be relieved of their duties, and even better, perhaps the so-called "managers" perpetrating this assault will be relieved entirely of their jobs and American citizens will no longer have to pay salaries and benefits to people such as yourself who apparently have unfulfilled dreams about the complete destruction of all wild horses in America.

A couple more examples of your hypocrisy before I close:

Your FONSI states there will be no significant impact on: 1.) public health, 2.) historic or cultural resources and 3.) quality of the human environment. I have news for you - public health IS adversely impacted because there will be no more equine wildlife viewing for people in that area because the LIVING ICON of the American West will no longer exist there and the quality of life for humans will be severely degraded because the only large mammals they will be able to see are fleeting glimspes of deer or elk and thousands of ugly cattle. None of these things can take the place of watching wild horse families, their interactions, their grazing, their snoozing, their sparring, their playing. All of these things are like tonic for a wildlife watcher and are essential for artists and photographers like myself to make art based on the horse. How can you possibly state no significant impact? You have just obliterated the area for an entire section of the human population by removing all the horses, the only reason they would go to the area in the first place. Of course we know the cattle ranchers will not lose anything nor the ORV folks, the hikers, the fishermen, the hunters. How is this a multiple use optimization when one category of users are completely disregarded, completely disenfranchised? I'll tell you what this is: HYPOCRISY of the first order.

Lastly, apparently you try to justify the removal of a significant piece of living American history by making the statement in the ROD that the wild horses of West Douglas to be exterminated are just "representative of American riding breeds". Well, DUH! Wild horses and domestic horses are pretty much all the same except for the fact that domesticated ones are born in captivity and not in the wild! It's not like one can easily identify a wild one by the horn growing out of it's forehead or anything - equus caballus are wild and domesticated! So now you are apparently thinking you can bamboozle the American public into thinking: well, these horses are nothing special, just like the horses down the road at the riding academy. NOT.


takemehomekathleen 6 years, 7 months ago

Part III Letter to BLM White River Field Office: Wild horses are the product of NATURAL SELECTION which makes them superior in MANY ways to the breeds man has meddled with and this species of wild ones have roots in the West that pre-date Colorado as a state, probably pre-date you and all your relatives in CO, and include that Spanish blood influence and on back to the time when horses evolved right here in the American west. What is the point of you trying to make these wild animals into average domesticated horses in the minds of your readers? I think if that question were answered honestly, it would once again reveal the very palpable hatred of wild horses that permeates BLM.

Don't you think our government has done enough of this ANNIHILATION? This has been going on in some form for centuries and has included the Native Americans, the bison, the wild horses, the wolves, the bears, the lions, coyotes and the only difference now is that society would no longer allow the abuse of the Native Americans and that BLM has become very good at obfuscating their decimation plans for animals like the wild horses. One has to wonder how you people can sleep at night, to know you are part of something dedicated to willful destruction of an entire species. And one can only hope these wild horses you are exterminating from our lands come to haunt you in your dreams, every single night until you leave this earth. That would only be fitting. And on that note, I'll close.


Frank Estey 6 years, 7 months ago

Forget about all this ridiculous spending to save a bunch of mongrel horses and just create a special horse hunting season.


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