By Associated Press
GRAND JUNCTION – The Bureau of Land Management is planning to gather more than 160 wild horses in northwest Colorado next month, a move that could be put on hold by an organization looking to pursue legal action.
Paula King of the Cloud Foundation said the organization will make a decision soon on whether to seek legal action against BLM in an effort to prevent the roundup in West Douglas, reported The Daily Sentinel on Sunday.
BLM spokesman Steven Hall said the proposed gather is “both lawful and in keeping with good management of natural resources and with good management of wild horses.”
But the foundation claims that removing the horses from the West Douglas area has more to do with eliminating competition for grazing by cattle than protecting resources.
“BLM’s historic scapegoating of wild horses is a smoke screen,” said Ginger Kathrens, executive director of the foundation. “Western rangeland damage is caused by millions of head of privately owned livestock, not our publicly owned and theoretically protected wildhorses.”
The foundation is also seeking to protect the history of the horses in the West Douglas area. They claim that they are descendants of horses brought to the New World by Spanish explorers. Hall said while some of the horses may have come from the Spaniards’ steeds, the “overwhelming bloodlines are of the 19th and 20th centuries.”
The foundation was successful in preventing a gather from the West Douglas area after filing a lawsuit in 2009. The BLM has since conducted a gather in 2011, removing horses from the nearby Piceance East Douglas Herd Management Area, and in 2012 when horses from the West Douglas area were taken due to a lack of water.
Next month, the agency is planning to remove 167 horses from West Douglas and from the Piceance East Douglas Herd Management Area.