COLORADO SPRINGS — The Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse round-up in northwest Colorado is underway months earlier than first planned.

In March, Governor Jared Polis called for a halt to planned roundups of wild horses this summer in the wake of 142 wild horse deaths at the Cañon City holding facility.

But BLM officials say the poor condition of horses and range conditions since the winter has moved this particular operation, in the Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area, up the timeline.

This goes against a letter Polis wrote to the acting director of Colorado’s BLM, Stephanie Connolly, in which he addressed the outbreak of disease among the wild horses and the outlook for future horses taken to the facility.

“Given the outbreak at the Cañon City facility, I have serious doubts that the proposed roundup in the Piceance Basin can or should go on as planned,” said Governor Polis. “The health and wellbeing of the horses should be the foundation of any proposed activity, and placing them in a confined setting susceptible to disease outbreaks does not seemingly fit that aim.”

Still, BLM plans to begin bait trap operations, which draw in the horses with food and water, on Thursday.

Officials there say the appropriate management level for wild horses in the Piceance-East Douglas area ranges from 135 – 235. The current population, they say, is close to 1,400.