BLM removes more than 200 wild horses in opening days of Piceance-East Douglas helicopter operations

This photo posted at shows a 3-year-old sorrel gelding that is eligible for adoption. The BLM has rounded up more than 200 wild horses from the Piceance-East Douglas Herd management area west of Meeker and will eventually make many of those horses eligible for adoption as well.
Bureau of Land Management

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the number of horses that the Bureau of Land Management hopes to gather. BLM Spokesperson Chris Maestas said they hope to gather 1,050 horses, with 750 of them being removed.

As of Saturday, July 16, the Bureau of Land Management had rounded up 235 wild horses from the Piceance-East Douglas management area in western Colorado.

So far, the BLM’s cull includes 106 mares, 87 stallions and 42 foals, according to the agency. The BLM’s White River Field Office began rounding up the wild horses with helicopters on Friday, July 15.

The Bureau of Land Management started gathering wild horses in the Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area on, June 16. The agency plans to gather 1,050 horses, with 750 of those being removed from the range, and others returned after receiving birth control.

The latest wild horse roundup, which is forecast to become the largest in state history, has been divided into two stages. Bait and water trap operations began in mid-June and removed 18 wild horses. Drive-trap gather operations, which use horseback riders before the helicopters, started up late last week.

According to the BLM, the roundup will help slow population growth, maintain population size within the BLM’s appropriate management level, which the agency has put between 135 and 235 horses.

The agency says that by reducing the number of wild horses, it will help sustain a healthy population, which can be expected to grow by approximately 20% each year.

The BLM has reported one death among the horses due to a pre-existing or chronic condition. Horse advocates have criticized the wild horse roundups, especially after more than 140 horses died in a BLM holding facility in Cañon City earlier this year.

Horses removed from the Piceance-East Douglas management area will be made available for adoption once they’ve been processed.

Wild horses up for adoption are listed online at, which offers opportunities to purchase the animals and have them delivered to a location near the buyer.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.