Colorado’s largest wild horse roundup in history ends with 864 captured animals, and plans for ongoing fertility control

This brings the number of wild horses captured in Colorado in the past year to about 2,000

Jennifer Brown
The Colorado Sun
Wild horses at the East Cañon Correctional Complex on October 13, 2021, in Cañon City.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

MEEKER — The third large-scale helicopter roundup of Colorado mustangs within a year ended Tuesday in dusty sagebrush country on the far western edge of the state, part of a massive effort by federal land managers to thin the wild horse population across the West.

Wranglers and a helicopter pilot herded and trapped 864 stallions, mares and foals during the past few weeks, with a plan to permanently remove about 750 horses from the rangeland near the Utah border. 

That will bring the number of wild horses removed from Colorado since last summer to about 2,000. 

The end of the roundup closes the latest tumultuous chapter of a decades-old battle between wild horse lovers and federal land managers. This one included attempted interventions by the governor and a Colorado congressman, as well as accusations that young fillies and colts were stampeded in the heat, and that wranglers accidentally ran horses into a dilapidated barbed wire fence hidden in thick sagebrush.

A mustang advocacy group’s photography captured a horse, hooves up, tumbling over the fence. A BLM spokesman told The Colorado Sun that while those hazards are typically found and flagged before the helicopter flies, this 40-foot section of fence was missed in the brush. A veterinarian treated the horse’s cuts, but the animal was not seriously injured. 


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