Roundup Report: Piceance Basin Wild Horses, July 2022



ROUNDUP CONCLUDED. 864 wild horses have been captured and there have been 6 deaths.

July 31, 2022: 35 wild horses were rounded up today, and there were two deaths that were noted by BLM as being "pre-existing"

July 30, 2022: 24 wild horses were rounded up today

July 29, 2022: 14 wild horses were captured today

July 28, 2022: 37 wild horses were rounded up today

July 27, 2022: 10 wild horses were captured today

AWHC was onsite at the Piceance Basin wild horse roundup. Here's the report: It was a late start due to trap relocation. The helicopter took to the air approx 10:05 and am, rounded up an estimated 9 horses (including two foals) who were located around 150 yards from the trap site. Operations ended at 10:25.

July 26, 2022: 50 wild horses were captured today and one was euthanized.

July 25, 2022: 26 wild horses were captured today.

July 24, 2022: 23 wild horses were captured today and there were no deaths or injuries reported. This brings the total so far to 657 horses captured, 2 dead. 

July 23, 2022: 96 wild horses were captured today and there were no deaths reported. 

July 22, 2022: Operations began at the same trap site as yesterday with 26 horses, including around 3 foals, that were captured today.

The first group of 6 horses, with one foal, began the day at 7:45 by being driven down a steep hill into a valley that runs parallel to the trap's valley and then back up another steep hill. They could be seen again at 8:05 coming down the trap side valley and were ultimately captured at 8:10.

Another group of 7 was driven into the trap a short 10 minutes later and horses began shipping out.

At 9:45 another group of horses was driven down the steep hill only to be left alone. They eventually found their way back up and could be heard whinnying in the trees. 

The next group of 4 horses came in at 12:25, nearly 2.5 hours after the last one. They turned around at the entrance of the trap but the helicopter stayed on them and they were ultimately captured. 

The final group of 8, with one foal, was brought in at 12:33 and concluded the day due to rising temperatures that were in the low 90s. 

July 21, 2022: 77 wild horses were captured today.

Today started later than usual while waiting for a new trap and observation sites to be selected. We got to our observation site around 8:30 which was a short hike up a skree-filled hillside. This site provided an unobstructed view of the entire trap, jute funnel, and roads leading up to it but was within a valley that did not allow for viewing most of the helicopter's flight.

An hour later the first group of 12 horses, including 4 foals, could be seen galloping down the road. They were trapped shortly after the Judas horses were released. Another group of 12, with 2-3 foals, was captured almost ten minutes after the last group. 

Nearly 20 minutes later a large group of around 27, with 3-4 foals,  could be seen coming through the valley and 6 of those subsequently took off and went their own way. After the first 21 were captured the helicopter went back around for the remaining 6 who were trying to make their way up to higher ground. After this run horses were starting to trailer out.

The next run of horses came 40 minutes later came the following groups with a total of 10 horses including 2 foals.

The helicopter could be seen again 30 minutes after the previous run driving 15 horses down a steep skree-filled hillside and then through a steep wash and into the road. The valley they were run into ran parallel to the trap's valley and took them about 25 minutes to come around and over more hills into the trap's valley. By the time they made it around they were missing 2 horses and 13, including 2 foals, were trapped. The day's operations were called for the day due to rising temperatures. 

July 20, 2022: 25 wild horses were captured today.

Today we were at the same trap site location as 7/19/22. Shortly after arrival at the helicopter could be heard searching for horses at around 7am. Once the helicopter could be heard near observation 2 black stallions came out of the trees and began trotting toward us. Though once they were aware of us they turned around and ran toward the trap area.

At about 7:20 the first group of 5 horses, with one foal, was visible and being worked toward the trap. Like horses from the previous day this group also attempted to turn around midway through the jute funnel but were ultimately captured.

20 minutes after the last group came in the helicopter was back with another 6, with 2 foals, and this group also attempted to turn around before making it into the trap.

Again 20 minutes later another group of 6, with a single foal, was driven into the trap without resistance. About 25 minutes after that group was in a single black stallion could be seen trotting away from the trap that may have escaped.

At 8:50 a herd of around 7-9, with 2 foals, came near observation before quickly trotting away and into the densely treed pinyons. These horses were not captured today.

The final group of 5 horses, including one foal, was captured almost 2 hours after the previous group at 10:05 am. The helicopter flew for an additional hour and a half before calling it a day and opting to move the trap site to a new location. These horses in this area appeared to be highly resistant to the helicopter's efforts.

July 19, 2022: 41 wild horses lost their freedom today. 

AWHC's observer was 1 of 5 members of the public onsite at the Piceance wild horse roundup.

Today's operations began at the same site as the previous 4 days. The helicopter was up in the air by 7 am and traversed the area for over an hour before landing and deciding to move trap sites due to a lack of horses in the area. While they were moving sites AWHC's field representative and other observers opted to go search for remaining horses in the area.

In the span of 2 hours, they only managed to find a total of 19 horses.

At 11am we were called back to regroup and move onto the new trap site which we arrived at around 12:20 and was 7/10ths of a mile away from the trap site. While we could see the jute funnel the trap itself was obscured by trees. By then they had already brought in one group of an unknown number of horses and were currently working 9 horses, including 2 foals, toward the trap. This group was caught at 12:30 though not without some defiance as they attempted to turn around once in the funnel.

At 1 pm observers were asked to move our vehicles away from the observation site as we were told they were reflecting light and affecting operations 7/10ths of a mile away. By 1:30 the helicopter was bringing in the second group of 10 horses, including 3 foals, which turned around while within the jute funnel and after the Judas horse was released. This group separated and took off in different directions.

At 1:50 another group of 8, including 2 foals, was brought within the jute funnel but again turned around at the last minute and again took off. They went over a ridge with the helicopter and weren't seen again for 30 minutes until 5 came over the ridge at which point some ran into the treed area and 3, including one foal, were captured.

The final group of 9 horses, including 2 foals, again made it into the jute funnel and then turned around at the last minute and took off. As with the other horses during the attempt to recapture, these horses were very defiant and resistant to any attempts to herd them or manage their movements. Shortly after the final attempt operations were called off and the helicopter grounded. Multiple runs of horses were pressured enough to scatter and run into each other.

July 18, 2022:  59 wild horses were captured today.

AWHC’s observer was one of four members of the public onsite at the Piceance wild horse roundup.

We arrived at the observation site today at 6:15 am and were allowed to view the trap site up close shortly after that. Unfortunately, the location of observation did not allow for any viewing of the actual helicopter driving of horses but only allowed us to see them enter the trap. Today's conditions started out in the 60s and overcast but ended up in the low 90s and sunny by midday before turning into a lightning storm which forced the helicopter to land around 2. Trap conditions at the entrance were very dusty throughout the day.

The helicopter could first be seen at around 7 am about 1.25 miles north of the trap along a ridge. It went out of sight shortly after and was only visible again 40 minutes later northwest of the trap and again about 15 minutes later when it pushed the first group of about 13 horses into the trap. These ones were sorted, loaded, and shipped to temp about 20 minutes after being captured. 

The next group of horses were captured at 9:10 am and of the 13 captured there were two foals. While in the trap and before sorting two stallions began fighting and the other horses were getting pushed around and kicked.

At 9:40 a mare, stallion, and foal were brought in, sorted, and then 2 loads of horses went out to temporary holding. The next group of 4, including one foal, were brought in at 11:30 and the final group of around 17, with at least one foal, came in at 2:10 which concluded the day's operations as it was beginning to rain. 

July 17, 2022: 75 wild horses were captured today. One horse died due to "pre-existing conditions"

July 16, 2022: 58 wild horses lost their freedom today. One horse died due to "pre-existing conditions"

July 15, 2022: 159 wild horses from the Piceance Basin HMA outside of Meeker, Colorado lost their freedom today.

Despite calls from Governor Jared Polis and Congressman Joe Neguse to delay the roundup and work with stakeholders to implement more humane solutions -- the BLM proceeded.

It awarded a $500,000+ taxpayer-funded contract to Cattoor Livestock and will send more than 800 of these beautiful icons to a holding facility in Axtell, Utah where the BLM has been found to be noncompliant with biosecurity measures, handling, and facility design. Their fate is unknown and we can only hope that we won't have another Cañon City repeat.

One of the Basin's most popular stallions, known as JR, tried several times to evade the low-flying helicopters and get his family to safety. We watched as his youngest, a 3-week-old foal known as Elote, was stampeded in temperatures that reached 98 degrees. JR's entire family were caught in the trap. He is now alone on public lands.

Photos by WilsonAxpe Photography