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BLM Colorado Featured Partnership

Darting Team helps BLM Colorado Keep Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Herd Healthy

Just outside of Grand Junction, Colorado, we work closely with the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range Fertility Control Darting Team to keep the Little Bookcliffs wild horse population at ideal levels. The volunteer advocates began working with the BLM in the early 1980s. Now, more than 30 years later and 100 members strong, the volunteers provide critical assistance in the BLM’s goal of sustaining healthy horses on healthy rangelands. 

Wild horses travel in bands throughout the Little Bookcliffs wild horse area. BLM photo.
Wild horses travel in bands throughout the Little Bookcliffs wild horse area. BLM photo.

Nationally, wild horse herds can grow by nearly 25 percent each year, but the Little Bookcliffs herd growth has been as low as 8 percent per year since we began working with the darting team. Between 30 and 40 foals were born each year before we introduced fertility control in 2002; now, due to the team’s efforts, eight to 17 foals are born annually.

BLM Colorado State Director Ruth Welch joins members of the Little Book Cliffs Darting Team to view horses at the Little Bookcliffs. BLM photo.
BLM Colorado State Director Ruth Welch joins members of the Little Book Cliffs Darting Team to view horses at the Little Bookcliffs. BLM photo.

Team members help keep the herd’s population at a sustainable rate by giving the mares a type of birth control through a darting method, which takes time and practice in the 36,000-acre range. Anyone applying birth control must be professionally trained first. The group maintains a detailed genetic history for each horse in the herd area, allowing them to work with the BLM to make deliberate and planned decisions for fertility control. The BLM cannot recognize the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range Fertility Control Darting Team enough for the time, dedication, vision and passion they have devoted to the horses of the Little Bookcliffs.

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