By Sasha Nelson, Craig Daily Press
February 11, 2017
A wild horse was hit and killed Thursday morning north of Maybell near Sand Wash Basin, about 45 miles west of Craig.
“At about 2:30 a.m., State Patrol received a call that a passenger vehicle had hit and killed a horse near mile marker 38 on Colorado Highway 318,” said CSP Capt. Douglas Conrad. “No injuries to people were reported.”
“Much like when you hit a deer or elk on the roadway, we won’t charge you for that. We would rather you have a crash with the animal than swerve and attempt to miss and have a worse accident,” Conrad said.
This is the second wild horse killed this winter, said Sand Wash Basin Advocate Team Field Manager Stella Trueblood.
SWAT members are volunteers with the Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary and partner with Bureau of Land Management in managing the wild horses of Sand Wash Basin.
BLM and SWAT have previously raised concerns with Colorado Department of Transportation regarding the lack of signs warning about the possibility of horses on the road.
“We are talking to CDOT about possible warning signs in the area and also exploring options to move the Herd Management Area boundary fence to the north side of the highway. Right now, it is on the south side,” said BLM Public Affairs Specialist David Boyd.
Sand Wash Basin is home to more than 600 wild horses. Winter weather influences their movements.
“Historically, horses have moved closer to the highway in winter, and hard winters seem to push more toward the highway,” Trueblood said.
The size of the herd could also be a factor.
“As horse numbers continue to increase in Sand Wash, we will also likely see more horse movement,” Boyd said.
To help control the population BLM has been gathering horses in a bait-and-trap operation that began in November. Operations were halted in late December and resumed Jan. 20.
Captured mares are treated with birth control and released. At least 50 young horses will be removed and placed into adoption programs.
A total of 157 horses have been gathered; 115 have been released including 14 mares treated with birth control. Cañon City has received a total of 42 horses. All are in good condition, including those received before the break, Boyd said.
The operation will continue as weather permits.
“People driving Highway 318 should be aware that they may encounter horses near Sand Wash this time of year,” Boyd said. “Of course, there is high potential for encountering deer and elk in winter all along Highway 318, as well, so people need to be alert.”