American Wild Horse Campaign Responds to Ecological Assessment on Piceance-East Douglas HMA

Ecologist Report: “BLM’s justification for an accelerated roundups are not supported by evidence”  

Meeker, Colo. (July 11, 2022) – Today, the American Wild Horse Campaign responds to a new report released by Delia Malone, an expert land ecologist. The report, “Wild Horses of the Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area: An Ecological Assessment of Herd and Habitat Condition,” comes in advance of a large-scale helicopter roundup scheduled to start as early as July 15 in the Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area (HMA).

The upcoming Piceance helicopter roundup was originally scheduled to occur in September 2022. Yet the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) cited the “poor condition of the horses and range conditions coming out of the winter” as justification for accelerating the roundup to July. The BLM has also cited damage by wild horses to a federally protected plant species, Physaria congesta. 

Malone’s report directly challenges the BLM’s assertions.

Malone’s report cites: “Field observations from this reconnaissance provide no evidence to support the BLM’s claims of wild horse malnourishment or damage to Physaria congesta or its habitat. Instead, field assessments document that upland habitats provide ample forage to support the Piceance-East Douglas wild horse population. Field reconnaissance also identified domestic livestock as a primary cause of riparian habitat degradation.”

More so, her conclusion reads: “BLM’s justification for an accelerated roundup are not supported by evidence. Instead, evidence suggests that wild horses are living sustainably with the land and that any land degradation is primarily due to domestic livestock and extractive energy development.”

“Malone’s report provides evidence to support the Governor’s request for the BLM to pause the July helicopter roundup and instead seek more collaborative, humane approaches to the management of wild horse and burro populations,” said Scott Wilson, AWHC spokesperson based in Colorado.

“It is wholly irresponsible to continue to unnecessarily remove wild horses from public lands as populations in holding facilities swell, disease runs rampant, and abuse is documented at each roundup operation. The system is broken, and wild horses must be managed where they are safest – in the wild.”

“Just as problematic, July is still foaling season. Young foals and pregnant mares should not be chased by helicopters, particularly in the summer heat. We’re hopeful Malone’s report will lead to further evaluation of the Piceance HMA and delay the scheduled July roundup.”

AWHC sent a legal letter urging the BLM to conduct supplemental environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Malone’s newest findings support AWHC’s calls for further analysis and renews the organization’s calls to delay the upcoming roundup.

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.