Wild horse roundup in northwest Colorado begins as BLM tries to gather 733 mustangs | VailDaily.com

Wild horse roundup in northwest Colorado begins as BLM tries to gather 733 mustangs

The federal Bureau of Land Management is removing 80% of the wild horses in Sand Wash Basin after drought-stricken rangeland turns to “moon dust”

Jennifer Brown
The Colorado Sun
Wild horses graze on public lands on Wednesday in the Sand Wash Basin outside Craig.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

SAND WASH BASIN — The silvery-gray wild stallion scaled the metal corral as if it were a ladder, then thrust himself over the top rail and back to freedom.

The stud was one of 65 mustangs rounded up by helicopter and herded into a holding pen on the first day of the federal Bureau of Land Management roundup in Sand Wash Basin in far northwest Colorado. The stallion trotted away, his tail raised in an arch, and disappeared into the vast landscape of layered canyons, juniper trees and sagebrush that smelled earthy and minty in a light rain.

The remaining horses in the corral, including 11 foals, spent the night there, the stallions separated from the mares, colts and fillies, and were eventually destined for a holding facility in Cañon City. The 22 studs occasionally squealed, kicking each other with one or both back legs, as they sorted out their dominance in close quarters.

By the time the roundup concludes in two or three weeks, the BLM hopes to have removed 733 mustangs from the Sand Wash Basin herd, thinning the wild horses by more than 80%. Federal officials say the emergency operation is necessary because of years of drought that has decimated the bunch grasses and shrubs that horses and other wildlife need to survive the winter. The swiftness of the plan and the aggressive removal goal have elicited outcry from numerous wild horse groups, as well as Gov. Jared Polis, who called last week for a six-month moratorium on roundups but failed to stop the gather.

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

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