The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) last week began the effort to gather up to 50 wild horses from the Sand Wash Herd Management Area in northwestern Colorado using a technique called bait-trapping.

Wild horses will be attracted to corrals using bait over a series of days or weeks. While confined in a corral, BLM will work with its partner group the Sand Wash Advocacy Team (SWAT) to identify horses to be removed and placed into an adoption program. Many of the mares that are not removed will be treated with a contraceptive called PZP, which delays fertilization, and released back to the range.

People traveling in Sand Wash Basin over the next month could see activity and temporary fencing related to the bait-trapping effort.

Most of the wild horses removed from the range will be placed in the Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary (GEMS) training and adoption program.

The BLM says it manages the area for up to 362 wild horses, but the current population exceeds 600, a number that poses a serious risk to the area’s ecological balance, the agency says. Treating mares and removing some young horses should help check the growth of the Sand Wash Herd.

“The BLM is committed to maintaining a healthy wild horse population in Sand Wash over the long-term,” said BLM Little Snake Field Manager Bruce Sillitoe. “This small gather and fertility treatment will help keep wild horses and their habitat healthy.”

The BLM works closely with its partner groups GEMS and SWAT to manage the Sand Wash Herd Management Area in northwestern Colorado.