Since Sept. 1, the Colorado Bureau of Land Management has gathered roughly 683 wild horses from public lands inside and outside the Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area – a response to ongoing “severe drought conditions” and “lack of forage.”
According to Colorado BLM, they released 49 horses – 25 mares and 24 stallions – back to the area as part of an ongoing fertility control program.
“The health and safety of wild horses on public lands is a top concern for the Bureau of Land Management as we continue to address the impacts of drought and climate change across the West,” said Jamie Connell, state director of BLM Colorado.
“We are committed to working collaboratively with state and local officials, wild horse advocates and affected local communities on the best path forward to protect healthy wild horses on healthy public lands. With input from the state of Colorado we were able to end the Sand Wash gather earlier than expected.”
The other 634 wild horses were moved to an off-range corral facility in Cañon City, where they will be checked by a veterinarian and readied for adoption.
Not everybody has been pleased with the effort, including Tom Kleinschnitz, director of the Moffat County Tourism Association. He told KUSA that the reduction of this particular herd by some 80% would greatly reduce tourism, noting that the lure of the horses is part of a $30 million economic impact for local businesses.
“They’re part of the American West,” Kleinschnitz said. “They’re protected out there, and we will continue to let people know about that resource.”