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