A judge has given permission for federal authorities to remove 40 to 50 horses from a historic wild horse herd in a drought-hit area of Colorado.
The Cloud Foundation, which contends the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been trying to eliminate the herd for decades, said it was relieved the judge had permitted only partial removal of the horses.
The bureau, responsible for the wild horse herds in the US, has been delivering water to two groups of horses on Texas Mountain in the West Douglas Herd Area, south of Rangely, for several weeks.
It instead sought to remove the horses, saying that continuing to carry in water was unsustainable.
On July 3, in a telephone meeting with the Federal Court, the bureau got the go-ahead to remove only a portion of the wild horses in the West Douglas Herd on Colorado’s Western Slope. Judge Collyer limited the removals to only 40 to 50 horses.
“We’re relieved that Judge Collyer allowed only a partial removal of a herd the BLM has been trying to eliminate for decades, ” Cloud Foundation executive director Ginger Kathrens said.
“But we’re disappointed that 40 to 50 wild horses will lose their freedom and their families while our Nation is celebrating its independence and freedom.”
Veterinarian Don Moore, who grew up in Rangley and has watched the wild horses in the area for over 50 years, said: “The West Douglas wild horses have endured many droughts in the past. If a drought was going to kill these horses, it would have done so a long time ago.”
He added: ““The condition of these unique horses and the range is paramount to advocates. We’re concerned for their safety and wellbeing during capture and transportation, especially during extremely hot weather.”
Kathrens said the bureau had closed the Texas Mountain area, “so how can advocates monitor the operation and verify that the horses are being treated humanely?”
“Simply saying all is well and the horses are being treated humanely doesn’t fly anymore after the hundreds of horses, including little foals, have died from what BLM characterizes as ‘non-gather related’ injuries.”
Wild horse advocates are continuing with court action to preserve the West Douglas Herd.
In addition to the Cloud Foundation, plaintiffs include Colorado Wild Horse & Burro Coalition, Habitat for Horses, Front Range Equine Rescue, and Don and Toni Moore.
“The West Douglas horses, like all our wild horses, belong to the American public,” Kathrens says. “And Americans should speak up for them now, before these symbols of freedom are gone forever, living on only in history books and romantic memoirs of the ‘good ole days’.”