The debate over rounding up Colorado's wild horses is at center stage after 85 horses have died at Cañon City Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Facility from an "unknown yet highly contagious" disease outbreak.
The outbreak began on April 23 at the facility that holds over 2,500 horses. The horses impacted were gathered from the West Douglas Herd Area.
Standing a few hundred yards from the BLM holding facility Thursday, I couldn’t help but feel horrible for the hundreds of horses that may have been exposed to what BLM officials are calling an "unknown deadly disease.”
There are clearly two sides to this issue. For me, it seems like there's more questions than answers at this point and from the messages we’ve received in our inbox, it’s clear wild horse roundups in Colorado are not new and have been a source of widespread heated debate in our state.
I’m already looking into several angles to this story to help you better understand the different perspectives thanks to the different opinions you’ve shared on what should be done. You can submit 'Your Opinion' at this link or the form below to be featured in this story and Denver7 newscasts.
Horses, 'a historic treasure of the US'
These horses should be seen as a historic treasure of the US and treated accordingly.
'This is a tragic situation for all involved'
This is a tragic situation for ALL involved. My personal belief is that any use of public lands by other than wildlife should be done in such a manner that the BLM can recoup some of the costs involved with actually managing the land. To me, this equates to cattle ranchers not getting free graze or roaming for their herds. A reasonable per head charge should be attributed to the rancher at the time the cattle is sold. Additionally, I do understand that they are trying to maintain safe and healthy wild horse and burro populations. People need to understand that there is no easy solution to this.
'Wild lands should be reserved for native wildlife'
Wild lands should be reserved for native wildlife such as pronghorn and desert bighorn sheep. I understand it is not possible to remove all non-native animals from wilderness areas. Given the size of these mammals, it seems like complete removal would be possible. For enthusiasts of the mustang, private herds could be maintained on private land.
'There has to be a better way'
There has to be a better way than putting wild horses in holding pens. Thousands of these horses are being held, 50,000 approximately, in various states. Cattlemen, sheep men and mining interests are the key to these problems. I believe they want the horses gone so they can have “free” access to the land.
'Tragic evidence of a broken system'
Eight-five wild horse deaths in three days is tragic evidence of a broken system. Wild horses are federally protected wildlife, not livestock. US taxpayers are already funding the confinement of 60,000k wild horses with another 19,000 to be added this year. Don’t take the horses off their land. Take off the sheep and cattle which outnumber horses by 30 to 1. They’re unfairly competing. Wild horses do no harm where they belong - in the wild. Cramming these animals into confined holding facilities is clearly putting them in harm’s way.
'Feral invasive horses deserve no protection'
Feral invasive horses deserve no protection. They should all be removed from the range to protect our native flora and fauna.
'Let them be wild!!'
Wild horses are an important part of the ecosystem on the range. Horses, by their nature, are travelers - they eat and move on for water or other rangeland, they spread seed in their manure, so they are preserving the range. If they need water they find it - dig for it or move to find it. The horses in the BLM holding pens cannot travel. When the horses from the range are gathered they are fit and healthy - they become depressed in holding, having lost their freedom and their families. Part 2 of the problem is the roundups themselves - which cost millions, soon billions, of taxpayer dollars. Our horses are chased by helicopters into overcrowded traps, families are split up, foals are run to their death - they are terrified! Why are we leasing public lands which are destroyed by sheep and cattle. If I want to raise 5 horses, I have to buy my own property. Why don’t they? Let them be wild!!
'A wakeup call to look into deeper issues'
While a tragedy, it is also a wake up call to look into deeper issues going on beyond the public eye. This is being used as justification for removing the horses off of their federally protected land and replace them with livestock at the expense of the taxpayers. When you get right down to it, it is fraud.
'This story is very important'
The Bureau of Land Management, Colorado, is supposed to be providing daily updates on these horses. They are not. This story is very important because more taxpayers oppose these roundups and seeping these horses kicked off their legal land by sheep and cattle. Is it strangles? What are they doing or not doing? This is OUT of control. We want our horses free and alive.
'Leave our wild horses where they belong'
This is a disgrace, the BLM needs to be held accountable for their actions. In my opinion they are so infiltrated with welfare ranchers and others that want all of our wild horses and burros gone for grazing their cattle and sheep. This needs national attention. These horses were healthy until the brave helicopter cowboys rounded them up. We want our wild horses free and on the land designated for them. The welfare ranchers and Gas & Oil Companies want the land for themselves for greed. Perfectly healthy horses now are dying from a disease that they got by being kept in overcrowded bureaucratic conditions. We want answers. Where is Deb Haaland? You wanted opinions here it is, leave our wild horses where they belong.
Editor's Note: Denver7 360 | In-Depth explores multiple sides of the topics that matter most to Coloradans, bringing in different perspectives so you can make up your own mind about the issues. To comment on this or other 360 In-Depth stories, email us at 360@TheDenverChannel.com or use this form. See more 360 | In-Depth stories here.