National Wild Horse Protection Organization Calls for Halt to “Emergency” Roundup of Colorado’s Largest Wild Horse Herd

Action comes as Governor and First Gentleman advocate for humane management of state’s iconic wild herds.

BLM Wild Horse Roundup on Public Lands. Photo by American Wild Horse Campaign.

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC), the nation’s largest wild horse protection organization, today called on the Interior Department and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to halt the pending massive helicopter roundup of wild horses in the Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area (HMA)  in northwestern Colorado, charging that the justification for the capture operation–drought emergency–is invalidated by current conditions in the area.

AWHC’s appeal for a halt to the roundup comes days after Colorado’s First Gentleman, Marlon Reis, urged concerned citizens to contact Congress in opposition to wild horse roundups. The Governor and First Gentleman of Colorado have written numerous letters to the Department of the Interior and the BLM, and the Governor met with BLM leadership last week seeking a partnership for more humane management of the state’s wild herds.

“This drastic action to use helicopters to capture 783 federally-protected wild horses in Colorado’s Sand Wash Basin will decimate the state’s most high profile and popular wild horse herd,” said Colorado native Ellie Phipps Price, President of the AWHC Board of Directors and member of the Denver legacy Phipps family. “The agency is galloping ahead with this roundup under an emergency drought designation that is completely unjustified. Emergency drought conditions simply do not exist on the Sand Wash range, where horses are in good body condition and summer monsoon rains have replenished water resources and revitalized vegetation growth.”

“We’re calling on the Interior Department and BLM to halt the emergency roundup to allow time to work with AWHC and local stakeholders on a compromise plan that will achieve the mutual goal of protecting the horses and their habitat preserving this herd as an important ecotourism resource for Colorado,” Phipps Price concluded.


Yesterday morning, AWHC sent a formal letter this morning to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Acting BLM Director Nada Culver demanding an immediate halt to the roundup.  AWHC also filed a formal notice of appeal with the Interior Board of Land Appeals of the BLM’s August 17, 2021, Decision Record authorizing a ten-year plan to reduce the Sand Wash population limit to the low “Appropriate” Management Level of just 163 horses. The emergency designation has allowed BLM to accelerate this plan and bypass the public appeal process of that decision.

AWHC is adding a national voice to the requests made to local stakeholders, led by the Sand Wash Advocacy Team (SWAT), which implements a humane fertility control program in the HMA. The advocates are seeking the following actions:

  • Postpone the roundup and cancel the emergency drought declaration.

  • Increase the number of wild horses allowed to live on the range to at least 383 — the high end of the population limit established by BLM for the area.

  • Utilize less traumatic bait trapping methods as an alternative to a helicopter roundup for any removals that do occur.

About the American Wild Horse Campaign
The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, with more than 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse and burros in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. In addition to advocating for the protection and preservation of America’s wild herds, AWHC implements the largest wild horse fertility control program in the world through a partnership with the State of Nevada for wild horses that live in the Virginia Range near Reno.