Colorado Wild Horse Project Clears Both Chambers and Advances to Governor’s Desk to be Signed into Law
DENVER (May 8, 2023) – The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) applauds Colorado lawmakers, particularly its bill sponsors, for today officially passing the Colorado Wild Horse Project, SB23-275 which includes $1.5 million for on-range and off-range conservation efforts.
The bill is supported by AWHC and other wild horse protection and environmental groups because it amplifies a humane and cost-effective alternative to the inhumane roundups that have reduced Colorado wild horse herds over the last several years.
SB23-275 adds meaningful state resources to support the work of existing – but traditionally underfunded – local wild horse volunteer groups focused on sustaining wild horse populations through robust fertility control and stewardship programs.
These volunteer groups provide a crucial conservation service in administering immunocontraceptive vaccines, which are given to female horses via remote darting with an air rifle. The immunocontraceptive vaccine PZP (Porcine Zona Pellucida) is a proven method for lowering population growth rates and, when successfully applied to 70 - 80 percent of breeding-age mares, will result in stabilizing and reducing wild horse populations.
By scaling up this form of effective fertility control, it is hoped that more wild horses will remain in the wild and the need for ongoing helicopter roundups will be reduced. (Less than one percent of the BLM’s federal wild horse budget was allocated towards fertility control in 2021.)
“This bill, soon to be law, signals a new, collaborative approach for humane management of federally-protected wild horses in the West and offers a national model for other Western states for humane and cost-effective management and protection of wild horses.
“We are thankful to the bill sponsors, House Majority Leader Monica Duran, House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, Senator Joann Ginal, and Senator Perry Will, for coming together and recognizing there is a better way to care for and protect Colorado’s majestic wild horse herds. We also commend Colorado Governor Polis and First Gentleman Marlon Reis for their consistent leadership on the conservation of our state’s wild horses and support for this legislative effort,” said Suzanne Roy, AWHC Executive Director.
There are currently 1,400 wild horses on Colorado’s federal lands. Colorado’s recent history of traumatic and record-breaking helicopter roundups saw more than 1,800 horses removed from the wild in 2021 and 2022.
“The bill also creates a broad stakeholder working group to explore humane options for the placement of wild horses that have been removed from the range, including support for adoption programs and exploration of a wild horse sanctuary or preserve,” said AWHC’s Colorado-based Head of Strategy Scott Wilson, who testified on behalf of the bill.
Throughout the bill committee hearings, SB-275 drew testimony from numerous wild horse and animal welfare advocates. Additionally, bill sponsors Majority Leader Monica Duran and Minority Leader Mike Lynch (pictured below) offered remarks when the bill cleared House Agriculture, Water & Natural Resources on Wednesday of this week.
Said Minority Leader Mike Lynch:
“...Our goal in the Colorado Wild Horse Project is to elevate the effectiveness of the fertility control program with HMAs (herd management areas) in Colorado. Our hope is that we are able to see the same level of success of vaccination and [reduced] birth rates as has been achieved in the Virginia Range in Nevada.”
Said Majority Leader Monica Duran:
“… In Colorado, we love our horses. They are central to our state’s history and culture. We are home to four federal herd management areas and over 1,000 wild horses… After the two helicopter roundups that occurred in our state, there was an outcry. And this bill is an answer to that outcry.”
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.