CO Gov. Polis Calls for a Halt to the State’s Next Roundup Following Death of 144 Wild Horses Cañon City Holding Facility

Move Applauded by AWHC

Cañon City, Colorado (May 20, 2022) – The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC), the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, commends yesterday’s action by Colorado Governor Jared Polis in directing Bureau of Land Management (BLM) state Acting Director Stephanie Connolly to halt Colorado’s next wild horse roundup in Piceance Basin, west of Meeker.

Polis’ directive comes as 144 federally-protected wild horses have died at the agency’s Cañon City holding facility in Colorado in recent weeks. 

The Cañon City disease outbreak among wild horses is believed to be the deadliest in recent BLM history. The identified contagion is Equine Influenza Virus (EIV), a virus that is routinely vaccinated against in the equine world and is included in the BLM’s vaccine regimen for captured animals. All 144 of the deceased wild horses originally came from the BLM West Douglas Herd Area – also in Colorado – and were either unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated against EIV, despite being rounded up in July/August of 2021 and in BLM’s care for nearly 10 months. 

In addition to asking the BLM to pause the Piceance Basin roundup, AWHC stands with Governor Polis in calling for further investigations into the BLM’s holding corrals, including biosecurity measures and vaccination protocols.

"Wild horses are safest in the wild. We share the Governor’s concern for the state of horses at the Cañon City facility, the stresses associated with helicopter roundups and the inadequacies of systems established for the benefit of wild horses,” said Scott Wilson, AWHC director of strategy, based in Denver.

"We cannot keep piling horses into that broken system. AWHC fully endorses the Governor’s call to halt the roundup proposed for Piceance East Douglas while more cost-effective and humane management alternatives, led by a fully resourced birth control program, are pursued. AWHC stands by to offer our support and in-field expertise of fertility control." 

The Cañon City disease outbreak and increased public attention has also led the U.S. Representatives Dina Titus (D-NV) and Steve Cohen (D-TN) to urge U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to investigate the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holding facilities and put a halt to wild horse and burro roundups. 

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.