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But the park has denied a request by The Journal to report on and document the roundup process.


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Mesa Verde National Park has begun bait-trapping for wild horses as part of a long-term effort to habituate them for eventual capture, removal and adoption. The horses compete with elk, deer and bears for grazing and water resources. Last year, the park announced a decision for a phased, low-stress approach to gathering and removing the horses within five years.

The project has been delayed because of restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, horses are being lured to strategic areas with water troughs, then salt licks and hay. As they habituate to the bait, sections of corral fences are positioned, and trained professionals stand nearby to get them used to people. Eventually, a remote-triggered gate will close, trapping them.

When captured, a second phase of removal and training begins to gentle the horses for adoption. Officials say the more gentle bait-trapping approach is calmer than herding with cowboys and helicopters, which stresses the horses and makes them more difficult to tame and adopt.

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The park consulted with Tim McGaffic, an expert in low-stress roundup techniques. Last year, techniques were developed for the bait-trapping. The park has also partnered with the National Mustang Association Colorado Chapter to assist with the adoption process. Park officials report the initial baiting process has gone well, said Nancy Schaufele, a spokeswoman for the National Mustang Association Colorado Chapter.

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During the pause period, the park will continue to monitor the horses and build the necessary structures for the gather, officials said. Baiting and acclimation to humans will continue throughout summer. The Colorado Chapter of the National Mustang Association has agreed to take possession and title to all the gathered horses for adoption or placement in sanctuaries. Once captured in pens, horses will be fed, watered and monitored.

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Before being adopted, the horses will be transported to the Mustang Camp in New Mexico to be gentled by professional trainer Patricia Barlow-Irick. The horses will be trained to be touched, groomed, haltered and loaded, and be ready for saddle training. Low-stress habituation and trapping methods limit human-induced flight responses and improve their transition to domestic life, according to a YouTube video on the National Mustang Association Colorado Chapter Facebook .

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Fundraising for the project slowed because of coronavirus restrictions that prevent large social events. For more information and to donate, visit www. That law identifies specific public lands in the West where wild horses are managed long term, and Mesa Verde National Park is not one of them. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use Privacy Policy. Summary: No precipitation throughout the week.

Log In. Low-stress roundup technique begins for Mesa Verde horses. By Jim Mimiaga. Saturday, Jun. Mustangs respond to baiting; gathering lies ahead. A wild horse in Mesa Verde National Park gets used to drinking water from a trough used as bait for eventual capture and removal for adoption. Free-roaming horses at Mesa Verde National Park enjoy salt licks put out as bait to eventually capture them.

Courtesy of National Mustang Association.

Our mission: ensure their long term protection and humane management

Low-stress trapping methods involve luring wild horses with water, hay and salt licks, and slowly building a corral around them. Eventually, a remote-controlled gate is triggered shut.

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