Wild horses in Colorado now have more protections after the state passed legislation called the Colorado Wild Horse Project.
SB23-275 establishes a nonprofit, state-owned corporate entity tasked with managing and operating programs to benefit wild horses and support wild horse management with efforts that are "highly effective, highly efficient, and worthy of fostering."
To fund the program, Colorado's state treasurer is transferring $1.5 million from the general fund to the Wild Horse Project fund. The goal is to find long-term solutions for wild horses that are removed from federal horse management areas or held in federal facilities.
The bill also calls for a wild horse stewardship program to help manage range health and infrastructure, as well as a wild horse fertility control program to manage population.
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Colorado House Majority Leader, Rep. Monica Duran (D) and House Minority Leader, Rep. Mike Lynch (R) were among the bill's sponsors, along with Sens. Joann Ginal and Perry Will.
They wrote in the bill that "Colorado has the opportunity to serve the diverse interests of livestock owners, wildlife, and range health by supporting responsible wild horse management, stabilizing herd numbers and ending the unsustainable cycle of population growth followed by removal of wild horses from the range."
The Colorado Wild Horse project reportedly comes after 145 horses died in a holding facility last year.
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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has a federal Wild Horse and Burro Program, which aims to manage and protect wild horses and burros on 26.9 million acres of public lands across 10 Western states. However, the nonprofit In Defense of Animals has claimed the BLM "practices cruel and egregious methods of removing wild horses from public land."
In a statement, In Defense of Animals Senior Campaigner Ginger Sedak said she hopes this bill will create a leading example for how the rest of the country can "rebalance the rights of mustangs and burros to live on our public lands."
Meanwhile, another advocacy group, Friends of Animals, has concerns about wild horses being drugged for fertility control and claims the BLM caters to cattle and sheep ranchers.
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