Study released on horse population control efforts

MEEKER I The Bureau of Land Management has released for public review an environmental assessment addressing the gather plan to keep the wild horse population southwest of Meeker within appropriate levels.
The BLM’s White River Field Office manages a wild horse population within the 190,000-acre Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area. Wild horse gathers are typically conducted about every four years and were most recently conducted in this area in 2006.
The current wild horse population for the Piceance-East Douglas HMA is approximately 318, but the appropriate management level identified for the population is between 135 and 235 wild horses. An additional 138 wild horses are found outside the HMA.
The proposed gather would begin in October and remove 183 of the estimated 318 wild horses from the Piceance-East Douglas HMA, along with the 138 wild horses found outside the HMA.
The majority of the wild horses gathered will be available for adoption through BLM’s wild horse and burro program. The wild horses not adopted will be placed in long-term pastures.
“We are dedicated to managing a healthy wild horse herd in the White River Field Office that is in balance with other public land uses and resources,” said White River Field Manager Kent Walter.
Gathering methods could include helicopter drive-trapping, helicopter-assisted roping, and water- and bait-trapping. Under one alternative, fertility control would be applied to mares released back into the HMA, and BLM would adjust the sex ratio to include more male horses to help slow population growth.
Copies of the environmental assessment are available at, or by contacting the White River Field Office, 878-3800. 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. Wild horses have virtually no predators and can double in population about every four years if not managed.
BLM is also planning to gather the wild horses in the nearby West Douglas Herd Area in October. This gather was addressed in a separate environmental assessment.
BLM manages four Herd Management Areas in western Colorado for wild horse herds: The Piceance-East Douglas 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.
BLM encourages those who are interested in providing good homes to wild horses or burros to visit for information about adoptions or sales.