Horse News

Alert! Sand Wash Basin Wild Horses Need Water Now – Please Call the Colorado BLM

A main water source in the southern part of Sand Wash – Corona and family drinking 2 weeks ago – now dry

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?

Southern Waterhole I saw 150 horses drinking water at two weeks ago – now dry

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:

Gregory Shoop
State Director (acting)
Associate State Director
Steven Hall
Director of Communications
Deputy State Director, Resources and Fire
Suzanne Mehlhoff
Deputy State Director, Energy Lands and Minerals
Nikki King
Deputy State Director, Support Services (acting)

Donate to Wild Horse Warriors for hauling water:

and follow Wild Horse Warriors on Facebook:

Spread the word

20 replies »

  1. Are there any livestock fences in/on the Sand Wash area? If so, then that could/would prevent the horses from migrating to water sources as they would have done naturally for eons. This exact thing has been going on in NE AZ (USFS) for over a month and the USFS has provided a limited number of permits for the public to haul water because the wild horses could not migrate to natural water due to livestock fencing.


  2. So I called last night and left a message and called just now and spoke to the nice lady who answered the phone. They are still waiting for the condition of the horses to deteriorate to allow the Wild horse Warriors to bring free water to the Coffee Pot horses. I told her this was rediculous when there was no cost to the BLM and and waiting for things to worsen was rediculous and …..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I also just called the Acting Director of the BLM in DC and left a message with his assistant for him to intervene. Not sure anything will happen but…..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you everyone who is calling. There is no reason to wait until the condition of the horses deteriorates. All that will result in is suffering and deaths. Water is hauled to many wild horse herds across the west and I have never heard the requirement for bad condition of the horses as a precursor to relief. The BLM needs to do the right thing and allow, at no cost to them in money or man hours by the way, Wild Horse Warriors to haul water to the horses NOW. Keep calling and keep the pressure on.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Multiple Use impacts on aquifer

    March 5, 2014…Southwestern Energy Company (NYSE: SWN), through its wholly owned subsidiary Southwestern Energy Production Company, today announced that it has signed an agreement to purchase approximately 312,000 net acres in northwest Colorado targeting crude oil, natural gas liquids and natural gas contained in the Niobrara formation from Quicksilver Resources Inc.

    “We are very excited about our entry into this emerging liquids-rich resource play,” stated Steve Mueller, President and Chief Executive Officer of Southwestern Energy. “This acreage position covers a substantial area in the Sand Wash Basin – over 50 miles across and over 20 miles wide – and provides the opportunity for us to leverage our operational strengths into a new large, scalable project. Basin characteristics include proven oil production with minimal water cut, preferred fluid-phase windows, demonstrated overpressure, evidence of matrix permeability and porosity from petrophysics and well decline behavior, a thick, continuous reservoir with ample storage capacity and potential upside from downspacing and stacked reservoir benches. Upon closing, we expect that we could begin drilling operations as early as June of this year.”

    Click to access niobrarapressrelease.pdf


  6. How is hauling water to well-known and well-established watering holes “artificial” in ways that would affect natural behaviors? The HMA is mostly fenced so they cannot “seek” water outside its boundaries, even if that was their natural desire. Not to mention moving to find more water sources means they would need even more once they find it as there is little shade and record high temperatures in this part of Colorado this week — and several new wildfires this week.

    From a respected veterinary source (92 liters is about 24 gallons):

    Water requirements depend largely on environmental conditions, amount of work or physical activity being performed, type and amount of feed, and physiologic status of the horse. The minimal maintenance daily water requirement of a sedentary adult horse in a thermoneutral environment is 5 L/100 kg body wt/day, assuming the horse is consuming at least 1.5% of its body wt in feed dry matter. However, a 500-kg horse will usually drink 21–29 L of water per day when fed a mixed hay/grain ration or pasture. If fed only dry hay, water intake will almost double. Lactation or sweat losses also increase the needs by 50%–200%. A 500-kg horse exercising for 1 hr in a hot environment will need to drink 72–92 L of water to replace sweat and evaporative losses. Lactating mares need 12–14 L per 100 kg body wt to sustain good health and milk production.

    Unlimited free access to clean water is usually recommended, although horses can easily adapt to only periodic access throughout the day if the amounts offered during the watering sessions are not limited. Inadequate water access will reduce feed intake and increase the incidence of impaction colic, anhidrosis, and other metabolic disorders.

    Liked by 1 person


    Water update

    The horses have two ponds and the two catchments as water sources, as well as numerous (if not high quality) seeps in various arroyos throughout the basin. Our BLM herd manager (Mike Jensen) is committed to closely watching the drought situation (we’re in the D4 category now – exceptional drought). Our awesome water hauler (Steve Heath) is able to pump water directly into the storage tanks. In the next week or so, we’ll be scouting locations that his water truck can reach to pump water into big troughs – supplied by BLM – elsewhere in the basin if conditions warrant.

    Local ranchers have been hauling water continuously already this spring because it’s so dry.
    And that wind – that howling, awful wind – is leaching away the moisture we don’t have, day after day.
    It’s tough, folks, for wildlife and for livestock, and certainly not only in Disappointment Valley. That said, please know that the mustangs do not seem to be stressed. They have decent forage, as well as water sources, and they’re well dispersed throughout their range, not sticking to certain places as they would if they were stressed about sustenance/water.

    Members of Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners are monitoring conditions closely, and the Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association has offered to help pay for water deliveries to Spring Creek Basin.
    We are so grateful (as always) to our Tres Rios BLM guys for being committed to the well-being of our mustangs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This HMA is really fortunate in the BLM people who are employed there. All the emails from TJ cannot say enough for them. Why is it that they seem to be in the minority?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. “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.” Really? Does Hall have sources to back up his claim? His statement would make sense if volunteers were to haul water in front of the horses, but if they hauled the tanks out of the herds’ sight — similar what the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group did when supplementally feeding the Salt River wild horses — I fail to see how these animals would become habituated.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If water is hauled to or near the existing traditional waterholes that are drying out (which they are already reliant on) Hall’s claim is nonsensical.

      Also, if they want the horses to move on to other places and congregate there, this will also support an “overpopulation” claim due to the impacts of unnatural massing of horses. Not to mention that traveling hours between waterholes will in fact dehydrate them more quickly.

      None of this sounds like thoughtful paid management to me. In fact, any private horse care business would face legal action for this sort of “care” of animals owned by members of the public.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Zinke is speaking in NW CO this August, and folks are energizing in response. He will be presenting at a local annual conservative seminar. I encourage anyone concerned especially about Colorado’s public lands and our wild horses — the largest HMA is the Sand Wash about an hour and a half from Steamboat Springs — to think about showing up and speaking up.


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