The Sand Wash Basin Herd in Colorado faces an “emergency” roundup as Bureau of Land Management avoids NEPA
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.
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.
What can you do to help? Call the Bureau of Land Management State Office: https://www.blm.gov/office/colorado-state-office
Call the Little Snake Field Office: https://www.blm.gov/office/little-snake-field-office
Contact Senator Michael Bennet’s office: https://www.bennet.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact