Public to review horse herd removal

MEEKER — The Bureau of Land Management released an environmental assessment for public review which addresses the removal plan for a small herd of wild horses south of Rangely.
Under the proposed plan, BLM would begin gathering approximately 150 wild horses in the West Douglas herd area this fall. Gathering methods could include helicopter drive-trapping, helicopter assisted roping and water and hay trapping.
The majority of the horses gathered will be available for adoption through BLM’s wild horse and burro program. The remaining horses will be placed in long-term holding facilities.
The gather plan follows a decision resulting from a 2005 land use plan revision and environmental assessment that concluded the herd should be removed. The 1997 resource management plan for the BLM White River Field Office also directed the removal of the West Douglas Herd while expanding a larger wild horse management area in better habitat to the east.
“Wild horses are an integral part of the multiple use management of the 1.5-million acre White River Resource Area,” said Field Manager Kent Walter. “We will continue to manage for wild horses in the better-suited, 190,000-acre Piceance/East Douglas Herd Management Area west of Meeker. In 1997, we expanded the appropriate management level of that area by 65 percent – from 140 to 235 horses.”
Copies of the environmental assessment are available at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/wrfo.html, or by contacting the BLM White River Field Office at (970) 878-3800. BLM will accept public comment on the environmental assessment until May 25.
Under the authority of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, BLM manages, protects, and controls wild horses and burros as part of its overall multiple-use mission. The Bureau works to ensure that population levels are in balance with rangeland resources and other uses of the public lands. BLM removes wild horses and burros from the range each year to control the size of herds. Wild horses have virtually no predators and can double in population about every four years if not managed.
BLM manages four herd management areas in western Colorado for wild horses: The Piceance/East Douglas herd west of Meeker, the Little Bookcliffs herd northeast of Grand Junction, the Sand Wash herd west of Craig and the Spring Creek herd southwest of Montrose.
The bureau’s goal is to place as many of the wild horses and burros gathered from the range into private care. Since 1973, the BLM has placed more than 219,750 animals into private ownership through adoption. Under a December 2004, amendment to the 1971 law, the bureau also seeks good homes through sales of horses and burros that are more than 10 years old or have been passed over for adoption at least three times. Since that amendment took effect, the BLM has sold more than 2,700 eligible horses and burros.
BLM encourages those who are interested in providing good homes to wild horses or burros to visit http://www.blm.gov/ wo/st/en/prog/wild_horse_and_burro.html for information about adoptions or sales.