Action Alert: Wild Horses and other Wildlife are Running Out of Water in Sand Wash Basin – Now is the Time to Call the BLM and Say Let Wild Horse Warriors Haul Water To Sand Wash Basin
By Carol J. Walker
Two weeks ago I was visiting the wild horses in Sand Wash Basin and became very concerned because the Basin was the dryest I have even seen since I started visiting in 2011. Many of the southern waterholes that are the most visited were almost dry or already dry, and in the northern part of the area, Sheepherder Spring’s pump was broken and not working and while was in the area, one of the sheep ranchers who has a grazing lease turned off the water at Lake Draw and removed the tanks. Over 300 wild horses, plus elk, antelope and other wildlife depend on the water that these two springs provide. There are approximately 750 wild horses on the 150,000 Herd Management Area.
Wild Horse Warriors of Sand Wash Basin quickly got the water turned back on and a small temporary tank in place, then just days ago have now a system of tanks set back up at Lake Draw. The water is now flowing at Sheepherder Springs. But Coffee Pot Springs, the most northern springs that provide water for the horses and other wildlife is completely dry. Horses come in and look for water and it is not there.
Wild Horse Warriors has been fundraising and now has the tanks ready to set up at Coffee Pot, they have the volunteers and vehicles and they have a plan for where to get the water. What they do not have is the permission of the BLM to haul the water to the horses. The BLM is not being asked for a dime, they are not being asked for equipment, they are not being asked for a minute of time of employees to haul water – all they have to do is grant permission. This organization has been working with the BLM so they are a known quantity. There is no downside for the BLM. An article yesterday in the Craig Daily Press quotes Steve Hall of the Colorado State Office of the BLM regarding why the BLM will not allow volunteers to haul water to the horses:
“The BLM may begin hauling water if the quantity of water is insufficient to support horse health, indicated by a loss of body condition, he (Steve Hall) added.
“I think there is a lot of confusion about the state of the horses in Sand Wash. Droughts impacts on wild horses become visible fairly quickly when the horses are not getting enough water,” Hall said. “We’re currently monitoring for those signs, and if we see those signs — that drought is having a negative impact on the wild horses — then we’ll determine what the appropriate measures are at that time to take. We’re not there yet.”
He explained that managing wild horses during drought is all about timing.
“Letting horses seek water as they naturally should prevents them from becoming reliant on artificially provided water. … It has been shown that horses can become reliant on hauled water and won’t seek it elsewhere, and also, if they get too dry, they won’t drink when (water is) provided to them,” Hall said. “Wild horses are managed to remain wild, and establishing reliant water sources too early into a dry season can be counterproductive.”
In McCullough Peaks near Cody, Wyoming the volunteer group FOAL works closely with the Cody BLM office and has hauled water to the MCCullough Peaks wild horses for the past 6 years when needed – they do not wait for the horses to be suffering and having their body condition deteriorate before hauling water – it is simply done as a necessary, humane act.
Waiting for horses to look bad enough for non-veterinarians to determine if it is “bad enough” can result in horses dying, foals dying and other wildlife dying. Does the BLM want a crisis on its hands before they act? Are they waiting until they can take some photos of dehydrated dying wild horses that they can show to prove that wild horses need to be removed from our public lands? Are they wanting justification to do an “emergency” helicopter roundup of the wild horses at Sand Wash Basin?
How can you help?
Call the Colorado BLM State Office – tell them to give permission now for Wild Horse Warriors to haul water to Sand Wash Basin:
Donate to Wild Horse Warriors for hauling water:
and follow Wild Horse Warriors on Facebook: