Roundup, disease outbreak punctuate year of headlines for wild horses

by DENNIS WEBB, Grand Junction Colorado Sentinel »

THE deaths of scores of rounded-up wild horses in a holding facility in Cañon City and the removal of hundreds more from public rangelands in Rio Blanco County kept the controversial issue of wild-horse management front and center in media headlines this year.

More than 140 horses that the Bureau of Land Management had rounded up last year from an area west of Colorado Highway 139 near the Utah border died in Cañon City this spring after an outbreak of equine influenza. Many hadn’t yet received influenza vaccinations.

Said Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign, “It’s really a tragedy because many of those deaths would have been preventable if the horses had been vaccinated.”

Despite the problems in Cañon City, the BLM nevertheless this summer pressed ahead with plans to aggressively reduce the population numbers of the Piceance-East Douglas herd southeast of Rangely and west/southwest of Meeker, in what ended up being its largest horse “gather” operation ever in the state.

The agency estimated that the herd’s size had reached nearly 1,400 animals as of last year, and said the appropriate population level for the 190,000-acre herd management area is 135 to235 horses, when accounting for factors such as reliance on the area by wildlife and livestock.

Citing concerns about the poor health of some of the horses this spring, the BLM also moved up the Rio Blanco County operation from September to midsummer.

Gov. Jared Polis and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette, and some wild-horse activists had objected to the undertaking, raising concerns about things such as running young foals in hot temperatures. The BLM says the highest temperature during the operation was 92 degrees.

Polis and some wild-horse advocates also pointed to the Cañon City outbreak in raising concerns about the BLM proceeding with the Rio Blanco County roundup.

Ultimately, working with a contractor using a helicopter, the BLM rounded up 867 animals and shipped 761 of them to a holding facility in Utah.

“We’re very pleased with the operation that we conducted,” said Bill Mills, manager of the BLM’s White River Field Office.

While six horses died during the operation, the BLM says all of those cases involved euthanization of animals with pre-existing/chronic conditions, such as leg problems, that would have made it unlikely that they could have lived a healthy life on the range. READ MORE »

Witness to destruction

A watchful Mustang. Photographer not cited.


At the Fund for Horses and our blog Tuesday’s Horse, we have witnessed the unabated wild horse and burro destruction for more than two decades. There are many besides us, who have witnessed this longer, and fought harder.

These are devoted individuals and groups large and small who are steadfastly and wholeheartedly dedicated to the defense and protection of our wild horses and burros. Yet, these animals are reportedly being destroyed in violation of federal law, by accomplices within the the federal government itself.

Then, there is this.

It seems it does not matter a single iota who is in power in Washington, DC — who the President is, which party is in power, who is in charge of the Department of Interior or the Bureau of Land Management — the destruction of our wild horses and burros goes on unabated — again in defiance of federal law! How can this be?

This is also nagging at us.

Who is pulling the strings in Washington DC — giving it the appearance of being little more than a puppet government? Looming larger that anyone we can think of is corporate America, but why would they give a damn about America’s wild horses and burros?

Is it about public land grabbing for free corporate use? The federal government owns around 620 million acres of land (about 27 percent) of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States. It can hardly be that then, right?

No matter who wants to use public lands, or what they want to use it for, wild horses and burros are hardly going to interfere, are they? No. Quite the opposite. Our wild horses and burros are greatly beneficial to the lands.

The CANA Foundation tells us:

“Wild horses eat the grass, shrubs, and forage which goes through their body and comes out as manure. This manure then feeds the land, which creates more grass, forage, and plants to continue to feed the horses and other animals.” The same goes for burros by the way.

There is no need to round up our wild horses and burros and sell them to the meat man or kill them, or stick them in awful places, robbed of their freedom, left to die in mental and physical misery. Surely, as a country, America is better than that.

Tuesday’s Horse

Official Blog of The Fund for Horses

1 thought on “Roundup, disease outbreak punctuate year of headlines for wild horses”

  1. Thank you, Tuesday’s Horse for this very important information.
    The facts revealed here knocked the wind out of my sails. USA government owns 27% (almost one-third) of North America’s land. WOW!
    And it appears that whoever is sitting in the federal government at any given time does sweet bugger all about the unconscionable removal of the wild horses. Mother nature is to be respected, however, this BLM mob are literally attacking it causing destruction as to what nature established with the creatures and plant life living on the lands.
    The CANA foundation spells it out.


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