BLM continues to gather wild horses in Sand Wash Basin near Craig, Colo., Dec. 13, 2016

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The Bureau of Land Management holds wild horses in a permanent corral at Sand Wash Basin in mid November. The mares that were captured were given birth control and released back into the basin. The young horses were removed from Sand Wash and will be up for adoption next year. Craig Daily Press file photo.


As published by Craig Daily Press

Mild weather in November allowed wild horses to gain weight and the Bureau of Land Management to start a bait trap operation to remove 50 young horses in Sand Wash Basin.

The BLM continues to gather wild horses at Sand Wash Basin in order to help control the horse population and to remove roughly 50 young horses from the herd.

Sand Wash Basin is located roughly 45 miles west of Craig, Colo., and is home to nearly 600 wild horses.

The goal is to remove about 50 young horses and to treat 200 mares with PZP birth control. In order to administer birth control, BLM must capture the mares, give them a fertilization vaccination and release them back into the basin.

The gather started in November, and so far, BLM has removed 22 young horses and shipped them to a wild horse holding facility. A total of 10 mares have been treated with birth control, said David Boyd, BLM public affairs specialist for the Northwest Colorado District.

Recent winter weather has slowed down the operation.

“We’re taking it day-by-day and are continuing with the bait-trapping at this time,” Boyd said. “We will continue to assess the gather and the weather as we move forward.”

BLM and contractors Cattoor Livestock Roundup Co. are receiving help from the Sand Wash Basin Advocacy Team (SWAT) — the on range program of the Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary — to identify horses for removal and adoption of the young horses removed.

“We were there for one reason, for the horses,” said SWAT field manager Stella Trueblood. “The gather would happen with or without us. We are a bunch of determined, stubborn women who love the horses and felt it was our duty to be there for them.”

About 10 SWAT volunteers have been directly involved and are impressed with BLM’s work on the gather.

“I think it’s going very good. … It is very non-traumatic for the horses. It is a little bit more time consuming for the BLM and the contractor. They have been very good at working with us,” said SWAT program director Aleta Wolf.

Traps have been baited with hay near watering holes. Recent snow in the basin is providing an alternate source of water and means that horses no longer need to go to watering holes.

Trueblood said that on her last visit to the basin the horses were very spread out, posing a challenge to the operation.

“Weather is probably the only thing that can throw a wrench into it,” Trueblood said.

The contract goes through April, so if weather forces BLM to halt the operation they could resume in the spring.

Horses that have been removed and transported to Canon City arrived in good condition, have been separated into groups of studs, mares and mare-foal pairs in temporary quarantine, Trueblood said.

“We haven’t had any issues, they have been calm in the trailer and out of the trailer,” Trueblood said. “I understand that they are looking really good and have transported well. Once at 50, processing will start including gelding and vaccinations, etc.”

More information about adopting Sand Wash Basin horses is available from the SWAT Facebook page.