Vail Daily: Largest Wild Horse Roundup in Colorado History Underway
RANGELY, CO— The largest wild horse roundup in state history is underway in western Colorado, with helicopters chasing the animals into a trap set on land overseen by the Bureau of Land Management’s White River field office.
As of Tuesday, the roundup had removed 287 horses over the course of eight days, making it the biggest in Colorado history. BLM Public Affairs Specialist Chris Maestas said the next closest was 10 years ago in a roundup east of Highway 139 in the Piceance East Douglas Herd Management Area, in which 276 horses were gathered.
In addition to BLM land, the horses currently being rounded up in western Colorado also range on state-owned and private property. The horse habitat is known as the West Douglas herd area, and has long been considered to be outside of the areas identified for the management of wild horses by the White River field office.
The West Douglas herd area was once favored by Native Americans, the mysterious Freemont people among others, who placed pictographs and petroglyphs on sandstone walls before vanishing from the archaeological record some 800 years ago. Many examples of their work feature horses.
Today, much of the ancient rock art in the area has been ruined by graffiti and even some bullet holes, part of a larger landscape also impacted by the extraction activities of the energy industry, which are numerous in the area. A vast network of improved dirt roads and 4×4 trails — some for off-highway vehicle recreation, some to service the energy leases, all allowing for public access to the BLM land — crisscross the areas where large boulders dislodged from cliffs or steep slopes and washes have not made vehicular travel impossible.
Wild horse footprints and manure are seemingly everywhere that is not covered in rocks, trees and sagebrush. The small clumps of grass making up the so-called rangeland exist only in dry shards, sharp to the touch. But the horses survive nonetheless, bred to be able to exist on little food and water.