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Sand Wash Basin Wild Horses Brutally Captured Despite Protests

Sand Wash Basin Wild Horses Brutally Captured Despite Protests

The Bureau of Land Management recently concluded a savage helicopter roundup of 683 wild horses from the Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area in far northwestern Colorado. Despite public outcry, including letters from Gov. Jared Polis and First Gentleman Marlon Reis, U.S. Rep Joe Neguse, the Sierra Club, and the Western Watersheds Project, the unnecessary roundup went forward completely ignoring the impassioned requests. 

After over a month of efforts to stop the roundup, Gov. Polis finally obtained word that the roundup would stop early, just short of the intended goal of removing 783 of the approximate 896 wild horses in the area, which comprises 157,730 acres that 8,800 sheep also graze on. None of the sheep were removed, only wild horses.

Using the deceitful "emergency" designation we reported here, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has almost completely wiped out the Sand Wash Basin herd, removing well-known and beloved horses who people have visited from all over the world. The most famous was Picasso, who thankfully lived his entire life wild and free, dying naturally in old age two years ago. However, due to this devastating roundup, his progeny have not been so fortunate, including Picasso’s son PJ (Picasso Junior) and his grandson, Michaelangelo, both removed in the roundup.

In Defense of Animals had our representative, Ginger Fedak, at this roundup to bear witness for these wild horses who have no voice in the actions by the U.S. government that are destroying their existence. Observers who were kept almost a mile away from the trap site saw and documented nine Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP) violations. CAWP policies had been put into place to protect and guarantee the humane treatment of America's wild horses and burros.

Young foals were being left behind, alone on the range, because they could not keep up with the fast pace over rough ground and sagebrush for an hour or more, sometimes over 15 miles because the panicked horses veer off course many times trying to escape the terrifying mechanical beast. Two times bachelor stallions sacrificed their own freedom to kindly escort lost foals to the trap site to try to reunite them with their mothers. Yet, wild horse haters still try to deny the obvious fact that these amazing animals have strong family and herd bonds. 

After the actions at the trap site ended on September 8, observers were allowed to come down and view the horses in the trap pens. A BLM representative gave a summary report for that day and told us about the foal they found at the trap site that morning who he claimed that they “had to euthanize.”

He said it was "because all four legs weren't working." Our representative asked, "Is there any possibility that it may have been a temporary condition that might have improved with care and rest?" The answer back was, "The vet checked him and said it was a pre-existing condition." Our representative countered, "If it was a pre-existing condition, how did he make it miles to the trap with no working legs?"

This was a heartbreaking and unjust outcome for wild horses in Colorado, and many more horses are still in danger of meeting a similar fate. Please support our work opposing these cruel roundups by visiting our Wild Horses campaign.

Donations to support our work are needed and appreciated. Thank you.

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