Polis encourages moratorium on wild horse gatherings
Gov. Jared Polis has asked the Bureau of Land Management to halt wild horse gatherings in the Sand Wash Basin just days after the BLM announced its plan to gather over 700 horses in the area.
The round up — which was set to begin on Wednesday — planned to gather 783 wild horses and return 50 to the area after treating 25 mares with fertility control. Original estimates said that there are 896 wild horses in and around the Sand Wash Basin, but the appropriate management level for the area is 163-362 wild horses.
In his letter to Deb Haaland, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and BLM Deputy Nada Wolff Culver, Polis wrote that he is concerned with the current strategy for the gathering and hopes that the two can come up with “more humane means” of gathering the horses. According to reporting from the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the BLM planned to use helicopters to gather the horses, but advocates say this can separate family units within herds or potentially injure horses.
“Specifically, I encourage you to establish an immediate six-month moratorium on roundups, or long enough to ensure thorough stakeholder engagement to allow for a more thoughtful and inclusive process,” Polis wrote.
Polis added that he received many calls and letters from Coloradans who were concerned with the large roundup as well as the fate of gathered horses. In a statement released last week, the BLM said horses gathered will be sold or adopted in Canon City at the BLM facility.
“There have been concerns raised about how truly accurate the estimates are with respect to the ecosystem herd carrying capacity, particularly with a nearly two-fold variability in the “Sand Wash Basin Appropriate Management Level” estimate,” Polis wrote. “Furthermore, the large scale of this roundup, and tactics employed, almost certainly creates the opportunity for unintended injuries and in particular for the separation of foals from mares.”
First gentleman Marlon Reis, a noted animal rights advocate, is also a signatory to the letter.
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Next week, Colorado Northwestern Community College and Moffat County are hosting a free day-long seminar for local ranchers and agriculture producers.