Return to Freedom Urges Haaland to Change Wild Horse Roundup Plan

LOMPOC, Calif., Aug. 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation, a national nonprofit advocacy organization, today called on Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to step in and make changes to a planned wild horse helicopter roundup on the Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area in Colorado.

“With the private sector struggling with hay availability, prices, wildfires and drought, this is not the right time for the Bureau of Land Management to target these smaller wild horse populations — especially those that are easily trackable, with very young foals on the ground, and that have had a more than five-year investment in a fertility control program,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom.

“This is an opportunity to highlight an important partnership between nonprofits and the BLM, and to show how appropriate compromise can be done effectively even when climate and range conditions must and should be prioritized.”

Last year, volunteers darted 300 mares on the Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area with safe, proven and humane fertility control. This has been a significant investment of time and resources. The mares in the program should be returned to their home range.

The Bureau of Land Management plans to permanently remove 733 of the estimated 896 wild horses from Colorado’s beloved Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area herd in a helicopter roundup set to run Sept. 1-27. 

While RTF recognizes the concerns about forage, photos and videos taken this month show the horses looking healthy and recent rains have alleviated concerns about lack of water.

Specifically, RTF is urging that the BLM:

  • Reduce the number of wild horses to be removed; work with volunteer organizations to remove fewer horses based on predicted outcomes which could be achieved with increasing and/or continued darting;
  • Booster and release, if captured, any of the 300 mares that last year were treated with fertility control and maintain accurate, transparent data;
  • Ensure that all mares rereleased are at least started on the PZP fertility control vaccine so in future they would only need a booster (note: a percentage will not respond to the vaccine);
  • Replace plans for a helicopter gather with a bait-and-trap gather because of concerns about horses and foals, in particular, being run over rough terrain and keeping family band structures intact;
  • Focus removals on adoptable horses between the ages of 2-5 years old to increase successful adoptions to well-screened adopters, allowing older mature horses to live out their lives on the range.

Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation (RTF) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to wild horse preservation through sanctuary, education, conservation, and advocacy since 1998. It also operates the American Wild Horse Sanctuary at three California locations, caring for 500 wild horses and burros. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates about wild horses and burros on the range and at our sanctuary.

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SOURCE Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation

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