Wild Horse Advocates Appeal to Halt BLM from moving West Douglas Herd

By Tom McGhee
The Denver Post

“…you can’t manage them (wild horses) if they are not there on the land…”

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

A group advocating for wild horse populations has filed an appeal to prevent the federal government from removing mustangs from the West Douglas herd area in northwest Colorado.

The Bureau of Land Management plans to move the herd, which numbers about 200 horses, to the Piceance-East Douglas herd management area, separated from West Douglas by state Highway 64 and fencing.

The BLM has no desire to eradicate horses from the West Douglas area in Rio Blanco County, said agency spokesman Steven Hall. “We want them near good forage, good water, and where we can manage them in balance with the other natural resources in the area,” he said.

The Piceance-East Douglas area has more abundant water on the federally protected land than is available in the West Douglas area, he said.

The appeal, announced Thursday by the nonprofit Front Range Equine Rescue, says the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 protects the horses from unwarranted elimination from the rangeland on which they live.

“The Act requires the preservation and management and protection, and you can’t manage them if they are not there on the land, some number of them at least,” said Bruce Wagman, a lawyer handling the appeal.

The appeal is the latest volley in an ongoing battle between the agency and advocates for the animals, who dispute the BLM’s assertions of overpopulation.

In its appeal, the equine rescue group requests that the Interior Board of Land Appeals “prohibit BLM from continuing its unlawful practice of eliminating all wild horses in the West Douglas Herd Area from protected public lands.”


  1. BLM has sent the West Douglas Wild Horses to Canon City Prison

    “It’s kind of like a really plush retirement community” said Sullivan (.BLM spokesperson Kyle Sullivan)

    UPDATE: Wild horses placed in temporary home with Department of the Corrections
    CANON CITY, Colo. –

    Horses from the West Douglas herd area rounded up two weeks ago are adjusting to life at their temporary home at the Department of Corrections in Canon City.

    “It’s kind of like a really plush retirement community,” said Sullivan (.BLM spokesperson Kyle Sullivan)

    During the roundup two weeks ago, a contractor hired by the BLM used helicopters and bait traps to capture the animals. Two horses died during the roundup.


  2. “plush retirement community” my ass. What a liar ! Wonder how many they’ll kill when they castrate the stallions and colts? We will never know.
    This week-end the BLM is having an adoption in Liberty, KY. Hope and pray some go to good homes.


  3. Right Barbara….“plush retirement community”
    February 6, 2013
    Wild Horses Sold to ‘Kill Buyer’ by BLM Contractor

    Canon City Prison – a BLM “Maintenance Facility”

    Oddly, in reviewing FOIA documents of “Animals Shipped” out of the Canon City (Prison) Maintenance facility, and comparing these to FOIA documents on BLM sales, in September, 2008, when Jim Reeves bought the 36 wild horses, records from Canon City Correctional Facility indicate that no horses were shipped out in September, 2008, only one horse the following month (October, 2008), and only 33 horses the month after that (November, 2008). So did the 36 horses that Jim Reeves bought from the BLM at this facility just walk past a SWAT team and out a back door?

    This was not the only discrepancy in Canon City Maintenance Facility records. Tom Davis bought 120 horses in January, 2009, and Harry Vold bought 36 horses that same month (120+36 = 156), but Canon City records indicate only 4 horses were shipped out in January, 2009.

    Anthony Nafe bought 33 horses in February, 2009, but Canon City records indicate only one horse was shipped out in February, 2009.

    Tom Davis (only one of many this month) bought 111 horses in March, 2009, but Canon City records indicate only 77 horses were shipped out in March, 2009.
    This goes on and on and on…the numbers don’t add up. I hope the person who’s counting the wild horses isn’t the same person who’s counting the prisoners!
    My call to Mr. Fran Ackley (Program Lead for the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program in Colorado) for clarification on this issue was not returned.


  4. It’s beyond sad when any average citizen adopting a wild horse or burro does indeed have to undergo a lot of paperwork and facilities inspections before being granted full title after one year of temporary ownership has elapsed, while those (among many more) mentioned as being sold to Tom Davis, Harry Vold and their ilk seem to be able to haul them away by the truckload, no questions asked. Stan Palmer even had them delivered to him from Sheldon, after which they were disappeared in Missouri with no trace other than a few photos taken as new “owners” hauled them away to parts unknown one by one.

    While the BLM may think they have policies in place to protect the animals under their supposed protection, the record reeks to high heaven. While bristling against advocates with legitimate questions they seem to have lost all sense of smell.


  5. Here’s comes my conspiracy theorist…
    You can’t snivel to the Appropriations committee about the thousands of wild horses and burros in the federal gulags if the numbers fall. You have to keep those numbers huge. But here’s the thing – the amount of animals in Holding facilities – the numbers, mind you, not the actual warm bodies – is almost precisely what has been removed from the range and unadopted for the LAST TEN YEARS.
    Now…we know these animals die, all day every day, from ailments and crappy diet or unattended childbirth or whatever. We also know that, unfortunately, babies are born to captive mothers. But these numbers do NOT make sense. Show me an animal in short term holding that’s been there more than five years (does this seem illogical to anyone but me?). I understand that many that head to long term are older and so might possibly die in the Midwest. But the numbers reported in the holding facility reports don’t reflect much in the way of changes.
    What better way to keep the cash flowing into holding ( and crying to Congress about it) than having a less-than-accurate head count for the captives. Deaths aren’t reported or acknowledged in the monthlies. Maybe they should be.
    Anyways…just seems a wee bit suspicious that wild populations are reliant on ‘estimates’, and captives just never seem to do anything but accumulate.


  6. BLM’s mustang-population “data” is a fraud.

    In 2013, BLM reported that the West Douglas herd-population was 131. Two years later, BLM declared that the population had grown to 291. For there to be 160 more horses in 2015, the herd would have to have increased 122% in 2 years — an average increase of 61%, which is 3 times the normal birth-rate (implausible) with zero mortality (unlikely). More importantly, the birth-rate is not the same as the growth-rate. To be valid, the growth-rate must factor in both the birth-rate and the death-rate.

    Independent research confirmed an average birth-rate of almost 20% in wild-horse herds. However, the study also found a high foal mortality-rate (50%). A certain number of adult horses will also perish. The expected adult mortality-rate is estimated at 5% per year. Thus, even if it were possible to have a 61% birth-rate, given that 50% of the foals would die along with 5% of the adult herd-members, herd-growth could not increase 61% a year. In the case of West Douglas, BLM tripled the birth-rate and ignored the death-rates.

    For sake of argument, let’s assume it would be valid for BLM to have included an estimate of the then-as-yet unborn foals of 2015 — the fetuses — in the population-figure. That would make the 122% alleged growth appear to span 3 years instead of 2. It would yield an average annual increase of 41%, which is 2 times the normal birth-rate. However, even if it were possible to have a 41% birth-rate, it would still not equate to a 41% growth-rate due to 50% foal-mortality and 5% adult-mortality.

    Obviously, BLM’s numbers are bogus.

    It is important to keep in mind that the West Douglas Herd Area is intended by law for the principal benefit of wild horses. However, BLM administratively assigned the mustangs zero monthly grazing-slots (AUMs = 0 and, thus, AML = 0). Yet, BLM awarded 12,097 grazing slots (AUMs = 12,097) to non-native, invasive cattle in this designated wild-horse habitat.

    Finally, because BLM deems Piceance-East Douglas to be overpopulated too, would it make sense to transfer West Douglas mustangs to East Douglas?


Care to make a comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.