DENVER (CBS4) – The federal government could be changing what it does with thousands of wild horses spread out across public lands in the western United States.

Wild horses in the Sand Wash herd management area located 45 miles west of Craig, Colorado, in the Sand Wash Basin (credit: Joe Amon/Getty Images)

Budget cuts coming to the Department of Interior and pending litigation that could change a law prohibiting slaughtering is leading many wild horse advocates to speak out.

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Colorado is home to four Bureau of Land Management Herd Management Areas. All are near the Utah boarder.

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The BLM estimates Colorado has 1,600 wild horses, but that is twice the recommended number to maintain healthy rangelands.

It’s believed if laws are changed some, if not all, of the 70,000 wild horses in the country could be rounded up and slaughtered.

Wild horses are just some of the wildlife seen by visitors to Mesa Verde National Park on August 7, 2008 in Mesa Verde, Colorado.
(credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Advocates say the BLM is misusing money by spending less on herd management and fertility darts that could keep populations in check.

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A vote in Washington D.C. has been tabled that could alter if wild horses can be sent to other countries for slaughter, but it could be voted on in the coming weeks.

One of the biggest wild horse volunteer groups in Colorado, the Sand Wash Advocate Team, is hosting its largest fundraiser of the year this weekend.

Comments (3)
  1. I remember when Colorado was concerned with the 8000 wild horses, meat producer Ken Salazar was actively advocating for their demise so his neighbor could make some big bucks sending them to slaughter. A few years later Aspen News reported on the 5000 some wild horses Colorado had, Now 1500 wild horses is to many?? Get real, they will have 350 by next year and still cry that is tooooooo many. On the largest of the herd areas in Colorado they want to increase drilling by up to 20,000 well pads. Horses were given that land for themselves by the people of America, they were suppose to recuperate to a wonderful herd but never have. All other interests were given the privilege to use their herd areas only if horses were considered principal first along with wildlife. Other interests are abusing and hoarding this land.. We are not benefiting from their use. Their free range beef and sheep has a 97% chance of making it to international table, not likely ours unless you want to pay triple. (1.85 per season per sheep). 1500 Colorado horses are sharing now with 10,000 aum (mom/calf) in the summer and that many sheep in the winter- just in their designated land. This is the same in every state. They have comprised the “Excess” song for whomever they can fool/or pay to sing. — As for the horses wrongfully gathered, we are making billions on public lands in royalties, a few million will just have to go back to them until we find them permanent homes or repatriate some on herd areas illegally zeroed out.

  2. Thank you for reporting on this important, uniquely American issue. The BLM is comprised primarily of advocates of the Cattlemen’s Associations throughout the western US, and the BLM Board has only one wild horse advocate. This board is extremely unbalanced and biased toward the cattlemen. The scientific data states that the horses are not the problem, and they are at risk of becoming extinct because of the extreme effort to remove them from the range. The cost of ‘managing’ them is because they have been rounded up and put into holding for the rest of their lives, for the most part. They could do better if managed on the range; the PZP birth control dart (for mares) has been tested and utilized successfully, and would allow the horses to remain free. There are approximately 30,000 wild horses sharing the same area as 1.5-Million domestic cattle and sheep – so it’s possible/likely the cattle are the problem of over-grazing, not the horses. Now killing the horses in captivity (70,000) is being considered as a result of this mis-management by the BLM.

  3. zumagirl says:

    This plan proposed by Ben Masters of the BLM advisory board is fabricated with a false reporting system devised with special interest in mind. The BLM needs to remove the ranchers from the landscape.(net loss of revenue to the budget) and PZP the horses to control population. With the ranchers removed the horses in captivity can be PZP darted to control population growth, no horse need to die to sold the massive mis-management of the range. Americans will never be OK with killing of 70,000 plus innocent, iconic American symbols of freedom….

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