The West Douglas Herd Area (HA) is located in the same region of northwest Colorada as the 190,000-acre Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area (HMA). However, unlike the Piceance HMA, which allows a maximum of 235 horses to live there, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has set an allowed population level of 0 for the West Douglas HA, blaming the terrain and lack of summer range.
The BLM has contracted with ll use CD Warner Livestock to use helicopters to round up and remove the remaining 68-120 wild horses left on the public lands in the HA beginning on or about September 1.
The agency asserts that the land cannot support wild horses, but continues to permit up to thousands of privately owned cows to graze in two grazing allotments within the HA.
- According to the publicly available records, the BLM permits 631 cows from June 5 to Oct 31 to graze on the West Douglas/Red Rock pasture in the Twin Butte allotment, which is 100 percent within the mustangs habitat.
- According to the publicly available records, the BLM permits 1,158 cows from November 1st to June 12 to graze on the Winter/Spring pasture in the Twin Butte allotment, which is 100% in the mustangs habitat.
- According to the publicly available records, the BLM permits 774 cows from the beginning of June to Oct 31 to graze on the West Creek pasture in the Twin Butte allotment, which is 34% in the mustangs habitat.
This roundup will cost the taxpayers at least $187,000 to just remove these beloved horses and will bring along with it the lifetime cost of anywhere from $3.2 to 5.7 million* to house these horses for the remainder of their lives in government-holding corrals.
*According to BLM’s own estimates of up to $48,000 to care for one wild mustang or burro in a holding facility over its lifetime.
The roundup concluded with 122 wild horses captured and 4 deaths.
September 8, 2023: 6 mustangs were captured.
September 7, 2023: 12 horses were captured and there was one death after the BLM euthanized a senior stallion for "lameness".
September 6, 2023: 11 wild horses were captured and there was one death after the BLM euthanized a stallion for an "infected abscess". 104 mustangs have been captured so far during this operation and there have been 3 deaths.
September 5, 2023: 12 wild horses were captured and there was one death after the BLM euthanized a wild stallion for "coming in with a broken leg".
September 4, 2023: 16 wild horses were captured and there was 1 death after the BLM euthanized a stallion who came in with “blindness or eye abnormality”
The operation began at 7:50 am and ended at 4:50 pm. According to AWHC’s on-the-ground observer, the same methods as yesterday were used where they sent out four cowboys to round up a foal by rope, and then tried to bring in the rest of the family by helicopter. The contractors appear as though they are consciously separating mares and foals in order to carry out this procedure.
Today, a family escaped up a hill and we watched a beautiful stallion run closely past our observation area.
Images by WilsonAxpe PhotoAdvocacy for AWHC
September 3, 2023: 34 wild horses were captured
The West Douglas herd has been experiencing a greater impact further south compared to previous days. The trap site is mostly hidden by bushes and vehicles, while the helicopter operation is mostly hidden by large rock formations. During one run, a foal became exhausted from the stampede and was captured by cowboys (unseen by observers). It was then transported and later reunited with its mother, who was brought in earlier by helicopter. It seems that there isn't much of this costly and excessive roundup left to complete.
September 2, 2023: 5 wild horses were captured
Five mustangs from Colorado’s West Douglas roundup were captured yesterday. Thankfully there were no deaths.
But, can we talk about excess? There are 17 staff and contractors on-site at the trap which the BLM says is too dangerous for the public to be anywhere near. So dangerous that they keep us up to a half mile away, the view almost entirely obstructed. Yesterday, 10 of the contractors — four of which had ropes on horseback — brought in a single wild horse that the helicopter failed to capture.
September 1, 2023: 34 wild horses were captured