RBC I On Monday afternoon, the Bureau of Land Management finished up day six of the wild horse gather in the West Douglas Herd Area. With a total of 141 horses rounded up, the federal BLM will continue the gather into the week, as they plan to gather up to 167 of the 365 horses in the area.
Local ranchers who were present at the gather were pleased to see some of the horses removed from the range.
“These horses have been significantly degrading the range, impacting livestock and wildlife for so many years,” said Logan Hill, who grazes cattle neighboring the horse area. “It is great to see the BLM finally allowed to do their jobs and follow the law by caring for the range properly and getting these horses in.”
Hill was also quick to point out that the horses coming in seemed to be calm.
“None of these horses are lathered or breathing hard,” he said. “The contractors are doing a great job with them.”
Ron Davis, a volunteer with the Meeker Colorado Parks and Wildlife office, monitors mule deer populations in the area and was present for some of the gather. Davis expressed concern about the effect of horses on the wildlife population.
“There’s no elk and no deer,” he said, “You go to the water holes and all you see are stallions protecting the hole for their herd.”
Davis was happy to see that the horses and some of the cattle were being removed from the range to allow it to regrow.
“Our responsibility is to protect the total ecosystem,” he said.
As of Monday afternoon, only one horse fatality had been reported.
One stud had died quickly after getting down in a horse trailer and being trampled by other studs. The BLM was also taking special care with two pairs of mares with young colts, planning to haul them in a separate trailer to prevent any injuries.
The gather began Sept. 16 after a federal judge granted approval, stating in his decision “BLM explains that if the start date of the gather were delayed and the time for the gather shortened, it would most likely fail to reach its goal of removing 167 horses. If the planned gather were postponed until October, it would conflict with big-game hunting activities in the area. And if the gather were pushed into 2016, the BLM might lack the funding and available holding-facility space necessary to conduct the gather. Plaintiffs do not seriously dispute these points.
“In the meantime, the wild-horse populations in both the West Douglas (Herd Area) and East Douglas (Herd management Area) would continue to grow and consume natural resources, leading to further deterioration of the range,” the judge stated. “That result would be contrary to the public interest.” The gather in the West Douglas Herd Area is expected to be completed by the end of the week.