Wild Horses/Mustangs

Action Alert! Please Help Sand Wash Basin Wild Horses by Commenting on Roundup Plan and Demanding Water for the Horses

Source:  wildhoofbeats.com

Water is life, especially for nursing mothers

by Carol J. Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The BLM has produced a Determination of NEPA Adequacy instead of an Environmental Assessment for the Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area and this is a plan that will be in effect for 10 years with no further opportunity for the public to comment. The BLM plans to remove approximately 584 of the 825 wild horses estimated that live in Sand Wash Basin, bringing the number of wild horses remaining to 163, the low end of the Appropriate Management Level. This includes all the 70 horses that live outside the HMA and also includes foals from this year, which will most likely bring the total of wild horses to be removed to 662.

Here is the current document dated 6/4/2018: http://www.wildhoofbeats.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/DOI-BLM-CO-N010-2018-0025-DNA.pdf

Wild Horse Freedom Federation will be doing a Radio Show on Wild Horse and Burro Radio tomorrow night, Tuesday July 3 with me, Carol Walker, as the guest, talking about the comments needed for Sand Wash Basin as well as the phone calls needed for the water crisis:


In this proposal, they are planning to use bait/water trapping rather than helicopter to capture the horses. Bait trapping can be more humane for the horses if done properly by people who know how to do it and are being careful to prevent injuries. Instead of being chased for miles with a helicopter  the hoses are “baited” into a trap with goodies, the door to the trap is closed, and the horses that are to be removed are separated out and loaded onto trailers and taken off the range to holding facilities. The horses that are selected to remain are released. This is more time consuming than a several day helicopter roundup but also should be much less expensive as the trap can be manned by one person at a time and there is no need for helicopter fuel or pilots. There would be several locations for the traps to capture horses from different areas.

The BLM says they would do this over multiple years rather than all at once. In August 2016 the BLM issued an Environmental Assessment where they had planned to take 50 wild horses per year  for 10 years and give 80% of the mares PZP-22. My main objection to this plan is that it opened the door to future helicopter roundups and no opportunity for future comments from the public over the next 10 years. The goal was to remove wild horses down to low AML which is 163 wild horses. Here is the 2016 EA: https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/projectSummary.do?methodName=renderDefaultProjectSummary&projectId=59798

They did one removal in fall 2016. They did not remove any wild horses in 2017 and now have released this revised plan which is different than the 2016 EA WITHOUT DOING A REVISED EA. I am pretty sure that this is a violation of NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act, which promotes the enhancement of the environment and has specific requirements that must be met before taking an action such as removing wild horses from a Herd Management Area. This is a break in procedure for the BLM and I am very concerned that they are going to be taking any opportunity to circumvent and skirt regulations and prevent any transparency of public oversight of their actions. This needs to be challenged in court in my opinion.

The BLM says this would be conducted in multiple years as funding and space in holding facilities becomes available. The horses will likely be transported to the BLM holding facility at Canon City, Colorado.

If the wild horses in Sand Wash Basin are brought down to low Appropriate Management Level of 163 they will be below the number needed for genetic viability, which is 150-200 breeding aged adults, as per the leading geneticist for wild horses, Dr. Gus Cothren. These horses can also be removed using a helicopter, if you refer back to the original EA from 2016:

“The helicopter drive trapping method was considered but not carried forward for analysis. The limited number of horses to be removed was small enough that bait/water trapping was a feasible alternative for the proposed action and alternatives. However, this may be an alternative in future gathers depending on management needs.”
The BLM has not spelled out in this new document how many horses they plan to take this year or in future years, just a total number.
I am concerned that the BLM may change what they have been telling volunteers and go ahead and do a helicopter roundup this fall if they get the funds.
All of the wild horses rounded up and removed from their homes and families right now are at risk of being killed or sent to slaughter while we wait for Congress to vote on the 2019 Appropriations Bill. These horses are far safer and much better off remaining where they belong on our public lands, and managed there.

20 replies »

  1. Just saw this email from CAES:

    Posted on July 2, 2018by CAES

    The BAD Bill & the GOOD Bill

    H. R. 6147 is the bill we want to be defeated. Tell your electeds to VOTE NO.

    It is the Dept. of Interior FY 2019 bill that has the Stewart Amendment. The language in his amendment asks for euthanasia of all horses, 10 yrs of age or older, that are removed from the wild. It also asks for restrictions on sales to be lifted which would allow unlimited sales to anyone who wants the horses, for any reason, including slaughter.
    S. 3073 is the version of the Dept. of Interior FY 2019 bill. Tell your electeds to VOTE YES.

    This Senate version keeps protections in place for the wild horses that have been there for nearly a decade.

    The SAFE Act to permanently and completely stop the slaughter or transport to slaughter for American horses, domestic and wild needs to pass this year. We want to tell our electeds to VOTE YES on H.R. 113 and S. 1706

    So ask your elected officials to:

    Vote NO on H.R. 6147

    Vote Yes on:
    S. 3073,
    S. 1706 and
    H.R. 113


  2. Why no mention from the BLM regarding Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary (GEMS) which was part of a successful collaboration including the Sand Wash Advocacy Team (SWAT) and TIPS trainers — whose funding from BLM was eliminated in the past year or so? The prior approved bait trapping was coordinated with all these folks and ended up getting carefully selected animals bait trapped, trained and adopted, but as Carol points out it was ended without discussion or explanation.

    In other words, they are not supporting a humane management/adoption system which was working, and instead are moving ahead with less public input and less public support, and more horses losing their freedom and their lives.

    This HMA hosts the largest herd in Colorado and is highly popular with tourists, often international visitors seek them out as this is relatively easy to access and has some famously colorful horses. It also hosts thousands of sheep half of each year (if I have it right the permit holder is one entity), but these are not considered a problem or a tourist attraction, oddly enough.

    If Wyoming succeeds in wiping out their remaining herds, this largest CO herd on the WY border will be even more important and more attractive to visitors (and locals). Wyoming should then change its license plate to a silhouette of a cowboy riding a sheep.


    • The domestic livestock have almost five times (4.55) the forage allocation that the wild horses have been given. The domestic livestock animal unit months (AML) totals 19,758 versus the AML total for wild horses of only 4,344. This includes many, many thousands of sheep and some cattle. The information that I have shows that the last 803 sheep were to be removed for the spring season on 6/30.
      I know that in the past on some HMAs, the BLM has required the ranchers to turn off all water sources (spigots on springs etc) when they leave. Sufficient opportunity exists for adjustments to livestock grazing to accommodate the wild horse population, and federal regulations (43 CFR 4710.5) allow for BLM to reduce or eliminate livestock grazing in order to provide habitat for or to protect wild horses and burros.


      • The sheep are allowed in the Sand Wash HMA from Nov. through April each year, 5,000 head for two different 3-month grazing seasons through winter (which was nearly snowless last year).

        It’s ironic since the local lore claims all the horses are descended from ranch stock, so aren’t “really” wild and should be ruthlessly culled, yet this same area was home to the deadly range wars between non-native cattle and sheep interests in the 1800s, and sheep especially were considered highly damaging to the range by most. I’ve read accounts mentioning upwards of 40,000 sheep would be driven east from Vernal, UT into Colorado to graze west of the divide in summer time.

        People died fighting over the resource base and which introduced species they wanted most to despoil it, while horses have a far longer nativity claim on this continent by any measure.


  3. We need to follow the UK’s example…just read through this document


    Any mole caught in a trap becomes a Protected Animal under the Animal Welfare Act 2006,
    making it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering. The person deemed responsible for a
    Protected Animal is obliged not to cause it unnecessary suffering which could reasonably have
    been avoided or reduced. It is also an offence not to provide for an animal’s needs, such as
    food, environment and protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease. An offence is
    committed whether through an act, or a failure to act.



    • In the UK, an animal (even one that is considered a nuisance) “becomes a Protected Animal under the Animal Welfare Act 2006…”
      While in our own country, a Federally Protected Wild Horse or Burro, once captured, ” is no longer subject to the protections of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.”

      Can the Wild Horses and Burros be Saved
      The BLM was filling holding pens with few prospective adopters until Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) convinced then Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) to push through an amendment to the WFRHBA in 2004. The Burns Amendment was buried in an appropriations bill that was thousands of pages long. It authorizes BLM to sell excess wild horses that are “more than 10 years of age; or … [which have] been offered unsuccessfully for adoption at least 3 times.” 16 U.S.C. §1333. Any horse sold under this provision is no longer subject to the protections of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. 16 U.S.C. §1333. Since this amendment became effective, BLM has sold thousands of wild horses for slaughter. More room in the holding pens for more horses and burros.


  4. Animal Welfare Act 2006 (54 pages)
    2006 CHAPTER 45

    BE IT ENACTED by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
    consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
    Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-

    Animals to which the Act applies

    (1) In this Act, except subsections (4) and (5), “animal” means a vertebrate other
    than man.

    Click to access UKAnimalWelfareAct2006.pdf


  5. While taxpayer $ are squandered on roundups, removals and perks for private/corporate interests on Public Lands…

    Wild Horse Warriors for Sand Wash Basin was thankful.
    June 25 at 6:04 AM ·

    Everyone is so amazing!! WHW is only $75.00 from reaching $20,000!!! That is in addition to the $5000.00 that was gathered for the troughs at Sheepherders and the $5,000.00 that was donated for the fence, through You Caring!!! $30,000.00 WOOHOO the WILD HORSES OF SAND WASH BASIN THANK YOU!!

    Reader’s question
    So are the wildlife horses and all getting water from this effort

    Yes all the wildlife in the basin Benefit from these projects



  6. Picasso & Lightning Reunited
    Mustang stallions Picasso and Lightning from Sand Wash Basin HMA in Colorado were separated when we found them. This is a video of their reuniting.



    This message was forwarded to me

    According to DC main office at 202 208 3801 emergency water approval is done as we speak….
    According to Jason Barangan CO office they are “monitoring” and he lectured me on naturally managing the horses without interfering…. that there are natural water sources…. giving me the RUN AROUND to call
    Steven Hall who IGNORED any inquiries-
    so I called BLM Ben Smith at Little Snake Field Office where they set up an intake of messages from the public (PLEASE CALL 970 244 3084) and Ben was out so I left a message.

    All different reports with a lack of strategy and information to the public- please voice your concern
    BLM DC : 202 208 3801
    BLM CO: Jason Baramgan 303 239 3681
    BLM Field Office for Sand Wash Basin: Ben Smith :970 244 3084


  8. I’m trying to find out if comments are accepted through (what time) today, or if the period ended last night.

    Also want to share since I live in this area, that taking this herd down to low AML is risky for another reason: natural predation. Even if the low AML is a few over the 150 (in my opinion arbitrarily low number), with foal mortality at or near 50% in systems which contain natural predators, this herd would soon enough fall below that AML. Older horses die as well, a few get hit on the highway, we have wildfires and lightning strikes, and recent reports show that significant percentages of our deer and elk herds are infected with prions. Since all these pressures align to further reduce horse populations, the low AML is irresponsibly low.

    I would also like to add that the information about wild horses disturbing Greater Sage Grouse may or may not be true, but the BLM last year approved the Chokecherry windpower transmission line from south central WY and allowed it to build miles of new roads through areas already designated as sensitive GSG habitat, even when an existing utility corridor following existing roads was an option. This transmission line passes a few miles east of the Sand Wash but will affect wildlife use, especially during multi-year construction. Oil and gas leases are also permitted in the Sand Wash, as well as an off-highway recreational area.

    In short, the pressures against wild horse survival are high even without considering drought or competition with livestock (who are removed for the summer months but graze there all winter). In this context, the BLM’s shutting down without explanation of working collaborations leading to successful and ethical adoptions is inexcusable, their silence on this is damning and does nothing but foster more suspicions from the public.

    The Sand Wash is Colorado’s largest HMA and most readily accessible, as such it is a highly valued tourism draw for an area of the state whose economy is suffering. There is no identifiable upside for the public in removing and warehousing/slaughtering hundreds more of our horses. Since the public must pay for all this, the public must speak and be heard — not just once every ten years — in order to keep our paid employees honest and delivering the results we demand.


      Clait E. Braun
      Avian Research Program Manager
      Colorado Division of Wildlife
      Reprinted from: 1998. Proc. Western Assoc. State Fish and Wildl. Agencies 78:000-000.

      Habitat Loss – Human Caused

      Originally, most posts were wood but many fences are now supported by metal posts. Thus, fences are not equal in their potential to divide habitats useful to sage grouse. Fence management frequently requires trail access along them and some may be brush beat on one or both sides. Fences with 1-3 strands of wire are normally not negative to sage grouse although sage grouse have been observed and documented flying into fences. Woven wire fences are more negative to sage grouse as they cannot quickly fly or travel through them. Fences with maintained trails adjacent to them are most negative for sage grouse as they are travel corridors for potential predators. Similarly, fences with wood posts provide perch sites for potential avian predators. Sage grouse in some areas in Colorado avoid fences, possibly because of predator activities. Thus, fences are capable of fragmenting useful habitats for sage grouse. There is no estimate of the area impacted by fences within the distribution of sage grouse.


    • IcySpots


      BLM is proposing to gather all excess wild horses that are outside the designated Piceance-East Douglas HMA, including those in the West Douglas area

      The Bureau of Land Management seeks public comment on two potential wild horse gathers planned this summer or fall to help maintain healthy populations of wild horses on healthy lands in northwestern Colorado.
      “We are committed to maintaining healthy populations of wild horses in northwestern Colorado for the long-term,” said BLM Northwest Colorado District Manager Andrew Archuleta. “Current wild horse populations in Colorado are as high as they have been since before the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burro Act was passed. To keep these wild horse populations healthy, we need to reduce the populations through gathers as well as maintain an active fertility control program to slow herd growth.”

      Wild horse gathers are approved at the national level based on funding and priority. While these two proposed gathers are not currently approved for this year, the BLM Northwest District is developing gather plans in case funding becomes available.

      In the Little Snake Field Office outside Maybell, Colo., the BLM is proposing to gather and remove approximately 514 excess wild horses from the Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area (HMA) and adjacent areas using bait and water trapping. The BLM estimates the 2018 wild horse population in the HMA and surrounding area is approximately 747 wild horses (677 within the HMA and another 70 outside the HMA boundaries). The established appropriate management level for this HMA is between 163 and 362 wild horses. For more information and to comment on this proposal, go to https://go.usa.gov/xQGdT.

      In the White River Field Office outside Meeker, Colo., the BLM is proposing to gather all excess wild horses that are outside the designated Piceance-East Douglas HMA, including those in the West Douglas area. The BLM could potentially use all approved gather methods, such as bait-trapping and helicopter drive-trapping.
      The BLM estimates the current population of wild horses outside the HMA to be 374 wild horses. The BLM is prioritizing the areas outside the HMA, although the population within the HMA is 532 wild horses, well above the established appropriate management level of between 135 and 235 horses. For more information and to comment on this proposal, go to https://go.usa.gov/xQGGW.

      Wild horses removed through this gather will be taken to the Canon City holding facility and be made available for adoption or sale.
      Comments need to be received by July 5, 2018.




        Identifying Information
        Project Title: Sand Wash Basin Wild Horse Gather

        page 2
        Maintain herd management area (HMA) boundary fences to encourage wild horses to remain within the HMA. If horses relocate outside the HMA, attempt to herd horses back inside the HMA as expeditiously as possible.

        Click to access DOI-BLM-CO-N010-2018-0025-DNA.pdf


      • Thanks, I was looking to clarify if comments would be accepted through July 5, or if the time ended yesterday.

        Some of these action alerts indicate exactly the deadline, others (like this one) it isn’t too clear. I have no time left today so will have to move on.


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