Horse News

Sand Wash Basin Wild Horse Roundup is Not an Emergency

by Carol Walker as published on Wild Hoofbeats

The Sand Wash Basin Herd in Colorado faces an “emergency” roundup as Bureau of Land Management avoids NEPA

Wild horses at the waterhole

The Bureau of Land Management announced that an additional 6000 wild horses would be rounded up in 2021 due to drought, and using the emergency designation to push full steam ahead without fulfilling its National Environmental Policy Act regulations, allowing them to go in without public input, with very little notice, and leaving less wild horses than the Appropriate Management Level for these herds. But the Bureau of Land Management’s own handbook does not classify drought as a reason for an emergency roundup.

In April, the Bureau of Land Management announced its plan to remove wild horses from Sand Wash Basin with a 30 day period for the public to review and comment upon this plan:

The next step would be to publish a Decision Record with the final Environmental Assessment with another 30:days for the public to comment. But they did not do this. They announced an emergency roundup, starting September 1, saying they will roundup 683 horses within the Herd Management Area and 100 outside, for a total of 783 wild horses to be removed using a helicopter roundup, and the goal is to leave 163 wild horses which is the low Appropriate Management Level. There was a flyover count done about a month ago, but those figures have not been released to the public.

Very young foals should not be subjected to being chased by helicopters

The monsoon rains filled many of the waterholes and new grass is coming up in the basin. When I visited four days ago I was happy to see the water in many waterholes. I am not an expert on range conditions but it is very dry and the horses are spread out and hard to find as they look for forage. The horses I saw were in good condition, I did not see any starving horses. I am always of the opinion that wild horses are better off and safer on the range in their homes than rounded up becoming some of the over 60,000 wild horses in holding facilities, and with the Adoption Incentive Program continuing, at risk of being sold to slaughter.

There are over 10 new foals as of last week, and with the roundup starting in 2 weeks there is no question that using bait in traps to capture the horses would be so much safer and more humane for the horses especially the foals, instead of using a helicopter to stampede the horses.

I would like to see this roundup changed from an emergency roundup and the Decision Record and final EA published and available to the public, with the flyover count numbers included. The removal of the horses should never go down to the low AML of 163 but should never go below the high AML of 362 wild horses. The range can carry more horses than this, and the population should be managed using humane birth control. The livestock grazing leases for sheep should be retired and sheep grazing should never be allowed in Sand Wash Basin.

Iconic wild stallion Ranger looks out over his home

What can you do to help? Call the Bureau of Land Management State Office:

Call the Little Snake Field Office:

Contact Senator Michael Bennet’s office:

16 replies »

  1. Sen. Bennet is no friend of our wild horses and to this day refuses to even mention them, ever, as far as I know. He also proclaimed horsekiller Ken Salazar recently as a “dear friend” as he announced that man’s nomination as Ambassador to Mexico (!). As Senator he voted to confirm Salazar just last week.

    Not our Governor or both Senators (Dems) will speak up or spare a single horse, but all remain silent and complicit in the forthcoming horse holocaust. None has or will visit the Sand Wash, and especially not now, when they could actually make a difference.

    It will take an almighty effort and uproar from CO and other citizens to even slow this train down. I don’t see the public will here to do so. My apologies to Wild Horse Annie, we have failed her, failed our horses, and ourselves.


    Wednesday, August 11, 2021
    DENVER – Colorado Governor Jared Polis congratulated Ken Salazar on his confirmation as United States Ambassador to Mexico.

    “Colorado is proud that one of our great statesmen will be representing the United States in Mexico. Ken Salazar was confirmed this morning by the United States Senate as Ambassador to Mexico. I congratulate my good friend Ambassador Salazar on his confirmation and look forward to working with him to expand our economic and cultural ties between Mexico and Colorado.”


    Last month, the Biden Administration nominated former Secretary of the Interior and Colorado U.S. Senator Ken Salazar to be the U.S Ambassador to Mexico, and this week, I had the privilege of introducing him at his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. In my view, President Biden could not have made a better choice for U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. The American Southwest embodies our braided history with Mexico, and I can’t think of anyone with a deeper connection to the region than Ken Salazar. He has the experience and substance to hit the ground running and a life story that represents America at our best. The committee should advance his nomination with an overwhelming bipartisan vote.

    Watch his full introduction here.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Per the March 1, 2021 BLM published wild horse and burro population status, they SAY there were 818 wild horses at Sand Wash. I think we all know by now that the BLM’s populations figures are almost always exaggerated and incorrect to the point of some being proven fraudulent. With that in mind, even if there were 818 wild horses, if they capture and remove 783 wild horses that will leave behind very few. This is an atrocity and illegal per the unanimously Congressional wild horse and burro PROTECTION law.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is a long-time established BLM tactic that is used to go forward with essentially illegal roundups that bypass federally required reporting and public commenting requirements. They have done this every year there was a drought or other natural catastrophe to exploit for as long as I have been following wild horse & burro issues (for well over a decade). And even more outrageously, they remove wild horses and burros while leaving all the permitted livestock there to graze at tax-payer subsidized expense.
    The BLM is perhaps the most obvious example of a federal bureaucracy that does as it pleases regardless of which political party occupies the White House. The only way to stop this abuse of power is to pressure Congress to NOT APPROVE A PENNY for roundups in BLM’s appropriation budget.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. THE LAW
    The United States of America Code of Federal Regulations states: § 4710.5 Closure to livestock grazing. If necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury, the authorized officer may close appropriate areas of the public lands to grazing use by all or a particular kind of livestock.
    WHY is this LAW not being enforced!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you, Grandmagregg, for your informative replies. For years many of us have asked for a Congressional investigation of the BLM . If BLM isn’t stopped now our wild horses will be extinct .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. In July, the Bureau of Land Management rounded up the vast majority of Utah’s Onaqui wild horse herd. Pressed by a lawsuit, the BLM’s Salt Lake Field Manager testified under oath that an emergency roundup was necessary because wild horses were in poor and declining body condition and would need to be euthanized if left in the wild. After removing the vast majority of the Onaqui herd from the public lands, the agency admitted publicly that this narrative had been false: The Onaqui horses rounded up were in good body condition. There was plenty of forage on their Herd Management Area to sustain the entire herd through the drought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Among so many other points of fiction, why would the BLM Field Manager even suggest horses be “euthanized” in the wild rather than left to die naturally as the law indeed requires?

      This is doubly sick when considering how many wild horses and burros are illegally shot and killed, with absolutely zero prosecutions and hardly ever any followup.

      Thus it’s evidently not of much concern when random gunshot killings occur on public lands, but if there is even any prospect of horses needing a bit more water or forage, the answer is removals and/or “euthanization?!? Orwell would be proud.


  7. Take a gander at this letter to the editor from the Washington state Dept. of Fish and Game commissioner. He even says the Wild Horses and Burros Act should be repealed! I suppose they want to do all of this damage to the nation’s wildlife while they can take advantage of the muddle that Biden is in:


  8. Are they also taking all the livestock off these public lands as well? (Not!!!) if they remove the wild horses for reasons they state, they should also be removing the livestock. Looks like corruption. Smells like corruption….

    Liked by 1 person

    • The horses are in fine shape just now, but the BLM officials claim they want to avoid the horses “deteriorating” over the winter months.

      Yet… livestock are set to arrive (as far as I know no permits are being retired) from October through the end of May — seven and a half months spread from fall into spring — so evidently there is enough forage for them?

      Reminder: in legal wild horse areas they are to be granted “principal” access to forage, which means first in line ahead of livestock, which are allowed only as a privilege, not a right.

      So if there’s not enough grass for the wild horses (maybe) to overwinter, why is there enough for sheep and cattle? Why can’t we do hay drops if horses do suffer over the winter, or let them die as nature and our laws intended, as wild animals, in their natural ecosystems?

      Here is the info from the BLM valid through Feb. 2021:


      Includes Sand Wash, Lower Sand Wash, and Three C Wash

      Authorization Number: 0501066

      Sand Wash:
      Livestock number 5550 (sheep) from November 15 -Feb 28. 96% Public Land, Active, AUMS 3714.
      Livestock number 5550 (sheep) from March 1-May 15. 96% Public Land, Active, AUMS 2663.

      Lower Sand Wash:
      Livestock number 48 (sheep) from November 15 – Feb 28. 96% Public Land, Active, AUMS 32.
      Livestock number 48 (sheep) from March 1-May 31. 96% Public Land, Active, AUMS 28.
      Livestock number 150 (cattle) from October 16 – Jan 15. 96% Public Land, Active, AUMS 436.
      Livestock number 150 (cattle) from April 16 – May 31. 96% Public Land, Active, AUMS 218.

      Three C Wash:
      Livestock number 415 (sheep) from November 15-Feb 28. 96% Public Land, Active, AUMS 278.
      Livestock number 415 (sheep) from March 1 – May 15. 96% Public Land, Active, AUMS 199.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is interesting. The first day’s roundup was OUTSIDE the Sand Wash HMA. The BLM reported capturing 65 horses — 22 stallions, 32 mares, and 11 foals — who are NOT KNOWN to the advocates monitoring the Sand Wash herd within the HMA boundary.

    It is widely known some area ranchers turn a lot of stock loose to winter on their own in NW CO, and some of these wander onto private property in search of food.

    I wonder if they captured any geldings yesterday?!?

    Also frustrating if people are turning loose domestic mares, and some posting on the Sand Wash Advocate Team site claim the PZP darting isn’t working, since the BLM captured a lot of mares with foals yesterday. THESE WERE OUTSIDE THE HMA AND ARE THOSE MOST LIKELY ALONG THE HIGHWAY CAUSING TRAFFIC CONCERNS.

    Day 2 Outside HMA

    Horses were not gathered today. The gather will likely continue tomorrow outside the HMA. Outside the HMA means not within Sand Wash Basin, we do not know these horses and they likely have never been within the Basin.

    Call the BLM Update line
    (970) 673-7768 for daily information.

    Check the BLM website for details of previous days gather…/2021-sand-wash-basin-wild-horse-gather

    Animals Gathered: 65 (22 Stallions, 32 Mares, and 11 Foals)


  10. is Carol Walker still doing field documentation for WHFF? I hope so but expected to see some reports here already. Information is pretty scarce about the ongoing roundup at Sand Wash and the fate of those unfortunate enough to be captured.

    Liked by 1 person

Care to make a comment?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your 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.