COLORADO SPRINGS — After the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) moved forward with a July roundup of wild horses despite large scale pushback, Congressman Joe Neguse introduced an amendment that would end federal funding for roundups.

The Piceance Basin roundup was originally scheduled to occur in September, but the BLM pushed that date forward to July. The roundup began July 15, despite heavy criticism and calls from the public and lawmakers alike. Colorado Governor Jared Polis and First Gentleman Marlon Reis both called on the BLM to halt or delay the Piceance roundup, but their calls went unanswered.

The criticism came after more than 145 horses died at the Cañon City holding facility of an otherwise preventable flu virus outbreak starting in April of 2022. Following that incident, wild horse advocates have argued that helicopter roundups unnecessarily stress the horses and put them at an increased risk of serious injury or death.

So far, 512 horses have been captured from the Piceance Basin – 192 stallions, 225 mares, and 95 foals. According to a press release from the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC), the BLM is targeting the removal of 850 horses total.

Photos by WilsonAxpe Photography

Two horse deaths have been recorded as part of this roundup, on July 16 and 17, both cited as “pre-existing/chronic.”

This week, Congressman Joe Neguse, Chair of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, introduced an amendment to H.R. 8294, the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) Appropriations Minibus, aimed at “eliminating the use of federal funding for Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roundups of wild free-roaming horses and burros that use helicopters or fixed-wing air crafts.”

“I am deeply concerned about BLM moving forward with these roundups. We must reevaluate and reconsider the methods in which we manage these herds, ensuring that we are doing so cost-effectively and humanely,” said Congressman Neguse. 

While the amendment did not advance, the motion was applauded by the AWHC.