Victory: Historic New Law Passes to Protect Wild Horses in Colorado!
In a stunning bi-partisan victory for wild horses, the Colorado General Assembly passed unprecedented and groundbreaking legislation known as the Colorado Wild Horse Project that was signed into law by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis during a special ceremony on May 20, 2023. The bill was created when legislators, advocates, and other stakeholders came together to provide protections from brutal roundups and removals for Colorado's wild horses.
The bill's primary sponsors were Sens. Joann Ginal (D) and Perry Will (R), House Majority Leader Rep. Monica Duran (D), and House Minority Leader Rep. Mike Lynch (R). These sponsors secured bipartisan support in both chambers of the General Assembly, where the bill was passed by an overwhelming majority after expert testimonies by advocates, including In Defense of Animals’ Senior Campaigner for Wild Horses and Burros, Ginger Fedak.
This new state law is necessary because nationally, the US Congress has struggled to pass laws favorable to America's wild horses and burros for years. No wild horse and burro-friendly progress has been made on the national front since the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was passed!
These Sand Wash Basin Colorado wild horses were captured in a 2021 Bureau of Land Management (BLM ) roundup, and are some of the very lucky ones now living freely on thousands of acres in the Wild Horse Refuge sanctuary in Colorado.
Gov. Polis and First Gentleman Marlon Reis have been staunch supporters of America's wild horses and burros and have spoken out to halt the roundups in the state. However, the national government is solely responsible for "managing" wild equids, so there was little that could be done at the state level. The new law is the culmination of several years of work to allow the state to be part of the stewardship process.
The bill signing ceremony occurred in the Little Book Cliffs Herd Management Area (HMA) in the western part of the state near Grand Junction. Gov. Polis said they could see nine wild horses from where they stood. Before signing, Gov. Polis delivered some encouraging remarks. With the new law, he said, "We can ensure that our wild horse herds have a humane and sustainable future in western Colorado. We also want to highlight that this will set a national example. It's a first-of-its-kind partnership for how the state, ranchers, advocates, local communities, conservationists, and federal land managers can come together to achieve the best outcome to successfully manage these majestic animals that are synonymous with the American West."
State Senator Perry Will, one of the bill's four original bipartisan sponsors, was also at the signing ceremony. He said, "I'm real excited about this bill. It's a collaborative effort, and I think it's really going to set the stage for management of our wild horses into the future. I see this as a win/win for everyone involved, and the big win is for the wild horses because that's the whole purpose."
SB23-275 prioritizes retaining healthy wild horse herds in Colorado's four HMAs, thereby reducing costly and destructive roundups that have proven ineffective in the national plan. Thank you, Colorado!
For more on how to get involved in supporting efforts like this, visit our Wild Horses campaign.