Wild horses living in a portion of the Cañon City off-range holding corrals are seen from a distance in this photo taken in June 2021. Photo by Meg Frederick.
We must continue to call for better care of the more than 60,000 captured wild horses and burros now living in government off-range holding facilities or leased pastures. Of those, more than 21,000 were living in corrals that are too often overcrowded and lack shelter, as of March 2023.
An alarming number of deaths underscored during the spring of 2022 only underscored Return to Freedom’s concerns about conditions in off-range holding:
A total of 145 wild horses died at the Bureau of Land Management's crowded Cañon City (Colo.) corrals died from a preventable equine flu outbreak. A review has found 13 violations of BLM policy -- including failing to vaccinate the affected wild horses, which arrived at the corrals months earlier.
There were 2,550 wild horses living in the off-ranging holding corrals when the outbreak began at the East Cañon City Prison Complex, according to BLM.
In the months before the deaths, Cañon City faced allegations of mistreatment, including of underweight horses standing in mud and muck. Because inmates care for and train horses for adoption there, the Cañon City corrals remain largely out of the public eye.
The BLM intends continue to add to the number of wild horses and burros in off-range holding by focussing on their capture and removal instead of properly and robustly implementing proven, safe and humane fertility control on the range that could slow population growth, reduce the frequency and size of removals, and eventually end them as the agency’s primary management tool.
The emphasis on removals is all the more irresponsible because BLM lacks the infrastructure, staff and contracts to run its program -- much less properly protect and care for captured wild horses and burros.
Please join us in urging Congress to take demand that steps are taken to reduce the chances of further tragedy in holding facilities by moving wild horses and burros to more natural, cost-effective pastures as quickly as possible and by implementing a fertility control program that can lead to on-range management and the closure of off-range holding.