Roundup Eradicates Wild Horse Herd in Colorado
Government agencies have been eliminating wild horses and burros from their legally mandated public lands for decades. Now, 122 wild horses have been forcibly removed from their home in Colorado through a new cruel method.
A federal law was unanimously passed in 1971 to save the land where they were “presently found” for the “principal use” of the wild equids living there. Since that time, more than 40% of that land has been taken away from them.
The West Douglas wild horse herd near Rangely, Colorado, existed long before the 1971 Act was passed. Yet, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) removed the West Douglas area from its legally mandated range status and has been trying to remove all the wild horses there for years. Each time they do a roundup in West Douglas, the goal is to “zero out” the wild horses. The last attempt before this year was in 2021 when 457 horses were captured. They were sent to a holding facility in Cañon City, where at least 146 horses died from an easily preventable disease because the BLM’s own protocol wasn’t followed and they weren’t vaccinated.
The BLM says its reason for eradicating wild horses from West Douglas is that the area is “unsuitable” for horses. Yet, thousands of privately “owned” and exploited cattle graze West Douglas before being shipped off to slaughterhouses and all of this is subsidized by taxpayers. The fact is that horses are native and evolved on the North American continent and are far better adapted to thrive on western ranges than the introduced cattle (whose ancestors were unwillingly brought over from Europe by cattle ranchers).
The latest roundup in West Douglas this September again claimed to “zero out” the wild horses there. However, as in past roundups, the BLM admits that the 122 captured horses were not all of them. Tyrell Turner, a BLM wild horse and burro specialist for northwest Colorado, said, “We think there’s still horses left… We didn’t catch all of them.”
All helicopter roundups of wild equids are brutal, with resulting injuries, some lethal. This September’s West Douglas roundup had a method that we haven’t seen before. In recent roundups across the American West, the BLM has been denounced by advocates for not following their own Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP) standards by chasing the horses too fast and leaving babies behind. CAWP requires that the helicopters not go faster than the slowest horse in a group.
Our friend, Toni Napolitano, was a public observer at the September West Douglas roundup. She reported, “The BLM contractors loaded cowboys and saddle horses into horse trailers and sent them out on the range and out of sight of observers. There, the cowboys roped foals and put them in trailers by themselves. The helicopter chased their mothers and families for miles, frantically without their foals, eventually running the family into the trap. As an observer, it was incredibly distressing to watch these babies by themselves while realizing their frightened, terrorized mothers were being chased without their foals.”
Toni and the other advocate observers realized this abnormal method was meant to circumvent CAWP so that the family bands could be chased faster over the incredibly rough and rocky range. We must continue to work hard to protect and save America’s wild equids.
Please consider making a donation to help. Thank you for your support.