Sand Wash Basin horse death raises concerns over fencing
SAND WASH BASIN — A horse was killed after being struck by a pickup truck Friday, raising concerns of public and animal safety near Moffat County’s Sand Wash Basin.
A Toyota Tacoma was westbound on Colorado Highway 318 at about 7 a.m., when the driver struck a horse, instantly killing the animal, according to Sand Wash Basin Wild Horse Warriors representative Cindy Wright.
Wright said she expects the visibility was low in the morning, and the driver was unable to see the animal, named Tecate. Colorado Department of Transportation was called to remove the carcass.
“I am glad there were no human injuries,” Wright said. “I wish I can say the same about Tecate.”
Wright added she is afraid the next such incident might result in someone being injured hurt or worse, as horses are less skittish around vehicles compared to other wildlife.
Tecate was walking on the road when he was struck, Wright said, which isn’t uncommon in that area, especially in the fall and winter months. The area where the wild horses usually gather is only fenced off in the southern bend of Sandwash Basin. The horses have full access to the basin for food and water.
The Wild Horse Warriors — with help from Colorado Department of Transportation — were trying to get a fence erected, Wright said, but the department backed out. The Bureau of Land Management hasn’t expressed much interest in helping, but her organization will be meeting with that agency to discuss the issue.
CDOT could not be reached for comment about the incident.
Wright said she believes agencies need to “get serious” about the protecting the animals, which are a tourism draw for the county.
Sand Wash Basin Wild Horse Advocacy Team representative Patti Mosbey, who identified Tecate’s carcass, said the cost of a fence would be about $350,000, about $50,000 per mile. When she asked CDOT why it hasn’t put up a fence or even signage, she said she was told there wasn’t enough vehicle traffic in the area to warrant signage or a fence.
Wright said that, after talking with contractors, her group thinks it is possible to build a fence for $100,000 or less, citing recent efforts to get water to the horses as an example of getting a project done through cooperation.
Mosbey noted that, in Arizona, the road department put up signs for both wild horses and livestock, and the state even has the highway painted to warn drivers to beware of wild horses.
“Someone needs to own up to the problem,” Mosbey said.