Piceance-East Douglas Script

Intro text

Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area Gather

Sept. 19 – 30, 2011

White River Field Office, Meeker Colorado



In fall 2011, the Bureau of Land Management gathered 276 wild horses from the Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area. The goal for the gather was to bring the population of wild horses down to a level the range can support.


The herd management area covers 190,000 acres within the White River Field Office near Meeker Colorado. Managing wild horses at an appropriate level keeps multiple uses balanced, and it keeps wild horses and rangelands healthy and productive for years to come.


The decision to gather these animals came after extensive public input and review of the best scientific information available. The wild horses in the Picenace-east Douglas area are thriving, and this was the 16th gather since 1980 to help keep this herd within the ideal population level, which keeps the wild horses healthy.


The gather is consistent with the provisions of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which mandates the BLM to remove excess wild horses in order to achieve a thriving, natural ecological balance in the area.


Wild horses are not native to North America and do not effective natural predators. As herds grow beyond what the range can support, the BLM removes excess horses using helicopters. Helicopters have generally proven to be more humane, effective and efficient than other types of gather methods. This is especially true when large numbers of animals need to be removed over wide areas of rugged terrain.


There were an estimated 25,300 wild horses and burros in the western United States in 1971, and those numbers rose to a peak of more than 60,000 before the BLM was authorized to use helicopters for gathers.


Wild horse gathers are conducted by experienced contractors. A veterinarian was also onsite during gather operations to examine the condition of the horses and treat any injured animals.


During the Piceance-east Douglas gather, no wild horses were seriously injured or killed as a result of the gather operations. A single horse was euthanized as a result of a preexisting, chronic injury.


As part of the gather process, horses are herded into a trap and later transported to a short-term holding corral.


A wild horse specialist selected 15 gathered horses to be released back into the Piceance-east Douglas area, where the population is now estimated to be at 135 horses.  The other gathered horses were taken to Canon City where they will be placed in the BLM’s adoption program or in long-term pastures.


Having too many wild horses on the range places an undue burden on the land and threatens the health of native wildlife and plants. Over populated ranges also place the horses themselves at risk - especially during the winter months when forage is scarce.


For more information about the Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area visit www.blm.gov/co and select Wild Horses under the “What We Do” tab. You may also call 970-878-3800.


Text: For more information visit www.blm.gov/co or call 970-878-3800.