Wild Horse Advocates Appeal Court Decision: Forest Service Fence Threatens Ongoing Survival of Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd

Source: The Cloud Foundation, Front Range Equine Rescue and Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Historical and critical range fenced off by U.S. Forest Service endangers the herd’s genetic variability

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO. (April 23, 2014) On April 21, 2014, The Cloud Foundation (TCF), Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER) and noted equine photographer, Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) filed an appeal in District of Columbia Circuit Court to US District Court’s November 2013 dismissal of a lawsuit against the Custer National Forest (FS)  and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). “We brought the FS into the suit when they issued a call for bids to build the new fence in 2010,  states Ginger Kathrens, Founder and Executive Director of TCF.  “The fence threatens the survival of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd by eliminating thousands of acres of vital late summer and fall grazing.”

The two mile-long, six foot high fence across a subalpine meadow blocks wild horses from historic and critical high elevation grazing in the Pryor Mountains of Montana and mars an otherwise pristine landscape. The controversy over this artificial boundary began long before the fence was built in October of 2010.  TCF contends that the fence, which is on the boundary line between US Forest Service and BLM land, only exists because the FS refuses to manage horses in an area the herd has used since long before the FS and the BLM were created.

Range expansion is crucial since the Pryor herd is small, isolated and vulnerable to genetic decline. An August, 2013 report by leading equine geneticist, E. Gus Cothran, PhD, Texas A&M University warns of declining variability in the famed herd.  Analyzing the genetics of wild horses removed from the Pryor range last year, Cothran urged the BLM to “increase population size if range conditions allow.”

“The Pryor herd is one of the oldest in the West, is a unique genetic link to the Spanish Colonial horse, and is a closed herd (i.e. no access from an adjoining herd).  Although the herd appears to be strong with remarkable longevity there have been several cases of limited vision or blindness, hernias, and cryptorchidism. These physical defects could be a reflection of narrowing genetic variability,” states Kathrens who has followed the herd for 20 years, producing three PBS Nature documentaries about Cloud, a pale Palomino stallion who lives wild in the Pryors. “Obviously with fewer horses on the range, the chances increase that individuals will be more closely related than if the herd were larger.”

In the late 1990s and early 2000s herd numbers were in the low 200s.  TCF would like to see the herd managed at numbers even higher than these, but that is difficult based on the current acreage available for their use. TCF and their partners will be working to return the Sorenson Extension in the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (BCNRA). “This will be great for tourism, giving the public a greater chance to see wild horses in the Dryhead area of the range, including mares that might be in the core breeding population and have foals,” Kathrens adds. Wild horse viewing in the BCNRA has increased over the years and is an important economic driver for the nearby community of Lovell, WY.

“The BLM will be adding the Administrative Pastures at the very bottom of the mountain and we applaud them for this,” states Carol Walker. The 3,000 plus acres contained in the Administrative Pastures are not productive lands but they will allow for the herd to grow a little and they provide the best chance for wild horse bands to get out of deep snow higher on the range. “This was an area used extensively by Cloud’s father, Raven, and his band until the gates were shut a few years ago,” Walker adds.

“TCF has worked closely with the Billings BLM office over the past few years,” states Kathrens.  We are confident they have the best interests of the horses at heart and we are a willing volunteer for any efforts to benefit the horses.” TCF volunteered last year to help the BLM apply the fertility control vaccine PZP to mares to curtail population growth with the shared goal of preventing future removals.

“However, it is critical that the Forest Service take down the fence which keeps the herd from the highest quality pastures – pastures the herd had enjoyed for over 200 years,” stated Kathrens.  Unless they remove the fence, I fear that not only the genetic stability, but the ongoing survival of the Pryor Herd is at great risk which would be a tragic loss for the American public.”

“Every summer and fall until the fence was erected I observed and photographed the majority of the herd grazing in these beautiful, rich pastures,” Walker added. “Seeing the horses go down the trails their feet had made over many years and now being blocked at the fence, and gazing over it, not understanding why they could not go there anymore is heartbreaking. This fence must come down.”


 Notice of Appeal, April 21, 2014

 Judge Rules against The Cloud Foundation Lawsuit to Protect the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd.

 Genetic Analysis of the Pryor Mountains Wild horse Range, MT by E. Gus Cothran, August 2013

 The Cloud Foundation Legal Documents, Pryor Wild Horse Herd.



 Media Contacts:

Paula Todd King

The Cloud Foundation



Terry Fitch

Wild Horse Freedom Federation



The Cloud Foundation (TCF) is a Colorado based 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wild horses and burros on our western public lands. 

Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) is a registered Texas based 501(c)3 non-profit which puts people between America’s wild equids and extinction. 

 Front Range Equine Rescue is a 501(c)3 non-profit working to end the abuse and neglect of horses through rescue and education. 


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LETTER: No authority for ‘Horse Haters’

Patricia Fazio’s letter to the editor of the Cody Enterprise

“…some of the 41 horses involved are remnants of the Foster Gulch-Dry Creek Herd Area which was zeroed out by the BLM in 1987″

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

To the editor:

Concerning the recent article and editorial about the Big Horn Basin horses bound for slaughter in Canada, there seems to be a misconception that the 37 horses purchased by Bovary Exports have already been slaughtered.


Not so. They are in a holding facility in Shelby, Mont., for 30 days, but the clock is ticking. The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign has hired an environmental attorney to assess the situation and see if any laws were violated by the agencies involved, and to negotiate with the buyer about potential release to horse rescues.

The BLM had the legal right to seek removal of these horses as non-permitted, unbranded strays. That said, the Cody BLM and Wyoming Livestock Board knew full well (or should have) that horse rescue groups have been ready, willing and able to take horses in this situation. Advertising in two small Big Horn County newspapers that these horses would be gathered and could be claimed by their owners is certainly inadequate public notice.

An anonymous tipster called the Cloud Foundation after the horses had already been sold at Worland Livestock Auction. Nice gesture, but too late.

I find it hard to fathom that the Wyoming Livestock Board’s brand inspector did not realize the horses offered for sale at Worland Livestock Auction would be picked up by killer-buyers. Horse feathers.

We have no proof, but there is a possibility that some of the 41 horses involved are remnants of the Foster Gulch-Dry Creek Herd Area which was zeroed out by the BLM in 1987. That old herd area is only one mile from where this herd was captured.

Wild horses are native to North America – fact not myth. The American Museum of Natural History and ancient DNA academics have the data to confirm this. Believe your own prejudices that horses are non-native or “feral,” but this only shows that you are behind in the best available science.

Domestication and human selection gave us sub-species (breeds), but Equus caballusis is still Equus caballus – the species that became extinct during the late Pleistocene’s megafaunal extinction and the same species that returned with the Spanish following Columbus’ second voyage in 1493.

The BLM should be removed from the national Wild Horse and Burro Program. They are the worst agency for the delicate task of managing and protecting a species historically disdained and routinely killed by the old U.S. Grazing Service as pests. The BLM was formed in 1946 when the U.S. Grazing Service and General Land Office merged.

Traditional horse haters should not be in charge of wild horses. We need another plan and a new agency, but only Congress can make that change.

(s) Patricia Fazio, Ph.D.,

Statewide Coordinator

Wyoming Wild Horse Coalition


Click (HERE) to comment directly at the Cody Enterprise


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Wild Horses and Burros are Just Meat to the Bureau of Land Management

OpEd by Alana Marie Burke as published in the Liberty Voice

“all of the horses were sold off to the slaughterhouse bidder in just a few hours”

photo by Carol Walker ~ Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Carol Walker ~ Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Apparently, the definition of “wild” is to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as the definition of “is” was to former president Bill Clinton. When Clinton was asked about whether he had engaged in sexual activity with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, he stated, “There is no improper relationship.” Later when caught in his web of lies, Clinton verbally scrambled claiming, “It depends on what your definition of “is” is.” The BLM just recently rounded up and sent to slaughter a herd of wild horses that they claim are not wild because they were “descended from strays” and thus are not officially “wild.” As it turned out, Clinton did have a sexual relationship with Lewinsky and in the BLM’s case, the definition of “not wild” is sketchy at best resulting in the horses being slaughtered for meat.

The BLM rounded up a herd of 41 horses in Wyoming that had been running free for several decades and the horses were sold to the highest bidder, a Canadian slaughterhouse called Bouvry Exports for less than $2,000. The BLM claims that the horses were not in fact “wild” and thus not deserving of the protection of the Wild-Free Roaming Horses and Burro Act – especially because this herd of horses did not have a permit to graze on federal land. Their lack of a permit to graze was no doubt unknown by the wild horses who were simply grazing on the fodder of the landscape they had freely roamed for years. The agency claims the horses were not wild but were instead “abandoned” because they were descendants of “stray rodeo horses” from the 1970s owned by a deceased contractor of rodeo livestock.

Apparently having descended from “handled” horses, the herd in Wyoming that had been running free and procreating for decades was not quite wild enough and were just meat to the Bureau of Land Management. It would have been interesting to see an agent from the BLM try to saddle each rodeo descendent up for a little giddy-up just to see how domesticated these horses were before selling them to slaughter. That would have been a rodeo worth seeing. In this case, the definition of wild was conveniently in the eye of the beholder – that of a government agency ridding itself of pestilence not in the actual nature of the animals they rounded up…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the story in it’s entirety and to comment

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Right or Wrong, Controversy Surrounding Cliven Bundy Continues

Written by as published at St. George News

The court declared Bundy’s claims to be “without merit,” and that “suggestions to the contrary are entirely unavailing.”

Bundy-speak-1ST. GEORGE – It has been a week since the standoff between the Bureau of Land Management and the supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. Since then the 67-year-old rancher has been hailed as a hero and a villain. During this last week, Cliven Bundy has called for the disarmament of “federal bureaucracies” by county sheriffs; detractors have decried the supposed use of human shields during the standoff; dead cattle and destroyed infrastructure have been found on the ranch; and one of the nation’s most powerful Democrats has labeled Bundy supporters “domestic terrorists.”

There remain two very different opinions over what lies at the heart of the ongoing conflict between the BLM and Cliven Bundy.

  • The BLM maintains the rancher has illegally grazed his cattle on public land for 20 years and owes $1 million in grazing and trespass fees. To them, the rancher stands in violation of two federal  court orders and continues to engage in illegal activity on public lands. The BLM began to round up Bundy’s cattle on April 5, but ultimately ended operations due to “grave concern about the safety of employees and members of the public.”
  • Cliven Bundy has declared that the federal government has no authority to own lands within a state according to the Constitution, and thus chooses to not recognize the federal authority. Cliven Bundy and his supporters see this as a states’ rights issue and example of government overreach and overreaction. For them, the issue is much bigger than unpaid fees and cows.

Details of the April 12 standoff and a history of the Bundy-BLM conflict can be found here.

So who owns the land?

Map detailing the location of public lands (marked in red). | Image courtesy of Arewenotastate.com

According to two federal district court orders, the federal government owns the land. The BLM itself manages the land as an arm of the Department of the Interior.

In both court orders, the first from 1998 and the second from 2013, the court ruled that the federal government has jurisdiction over the land.

Despite using arguments of state sovereignty, the court declared Bundy’s claims to be “without merit,” and that “suggestions to the contrary are entirely unavailing.”

For their part, the Bundys have never claimed to own land beyond their 150-acre ranch in Bunkerville, Nev. However, they claim grazing and water rights to the land predate those of the BLM, said Ammon Bundy, a son of Cliven Bundy and family spokesman. As such, those claims should be honored, the Bundy family has said.

The Bundys argue the public land is state-owned – period. As for the federal government, Cliven Bundy refuses to recognize it in this capacity.

In the end, as much as states’ rights advocates argue otherwise, the federal government retains control of the public lands in the West. However, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Washington,  and Oregon are pursuing measures promoting the transfer of public lands over to state control.

The majority of the land overseen by the BLM is in the West. Nevada is over 80 percent public land, or, as argued by the BLM – over 80 percent of Nevada is owned by the federal government…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the story in it’s entirety and comment directly at the St. George News

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Millions of “Peeps” Set for Slaughter TODAY: Revisited

Feel Good Sunday” by R.T. Fitch

61st Birthday does not shield Peeps from Fears of Being Eaten

Click (HERE) to visit NBC Nightly News and to comment

Peeps Through History
Twinkie: Rest in Peeps
"Twinkie: Rest in Peeps, click (HERE) to see video

“Twinkie: Rest in Peeps, click (HERE) to see video

Despeepable Congress
Despeepable Congress: Click (HERE) to view Video

Despeepable Congress: Click (HERE) to view Video

Zero Peep Thirty
Zero Peep Thirty: Click (HERE) to view Video

Zero Peep Thirty: Click (HERE) to view Video

Peepius Maximus
Peepius Maximus: Click (HERE) to view Video

Peepius Maximus: Click (HERE) to view Video

Click (HERE) for more great Peep Shows a the Washington Post


It is important to be able to laugh at one’s self and from my end, I have plenty of material to work with ~ Keep the Faith

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Rustling Critters NOT a New Wrinkle for the BLM

OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~ president/co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The entire situation was a perfect storm for “STUPID”

originallandgrab.jpg medium

I have tried to stay away from commenting, opinionating or postulating on the BLM vs Bundy fiasco in Nevada last week because, initially, I felt the BLM was doing the right thing and such a concept totally rocked my perception of reality. I have never ever been on the same side of the fence with this out of control rogue agency …the sky must be falling and look, pigs are flying.

Here we have a mealy mouthed, welfare rancher who carries vagrancy to a new level by not only grazing his private cattle on public land, your acreage, but he has refused to pay the teeny-weeny, token grazing fees for the past twenty, yes count them 20, years; bum, thief, slacker.

(We like real land tax paying ranchers, some are my neighbors and good friends, but it’s the vermin that suckle off the public land’s teat that pisses us off)

But true to form (they just can’t help themselves) the BLM shows their backside immediately by swooping in like a bunch of Nazi storm troopers waving deadly force while stealing the deadbeat’s cows. (Been there done that, not the cow part but the overkill of armed personnel…it wasn’t pretty and not required. <2010 Twin Peaks Wild Horse Roundup: My wife Terry, a female advocate, a female reporter for the NY Times and lil ole me surrounded by dozens of big, bad, armed BLM Rangers. Me and the 3 women were, evidently, pretty threatening. Hell, I didn’t even cuss…back to the Bundy thingy>.)

And if the entire BLM/Bundy circus wasn’t dopey enough, a whole bunch of people with horses and guns showed up to support Bundy the Bum. Now I am all for protesting the overreaching and violent tactics of the bullying BLM but couldn’t these people have picked a little better poster child than a land parasite like Bundy? Where were all these irate citizens when the BLM constantly and consistently STOLE our protected and public owned wild horses and burros from their rightful range? Huh, where were they then?

Anyway, I felt that this story was a tale of total losers with no one winning and once again, animals being used as the pawns who always suffer at the hands of morally bankrupt BLM. The entire situation was a perfect storm for “STUPID”.

But now my attention is a tad more focused as there have been a multitude of stories surface as to “why” the BLM turned to cattle rustling instead of managing the situation via litigation like anyone with a 5th grade education would have done.

As advocates for the proper management of wild horses and burros ON the range we have always been suspect of what moves and motivates the BLM to strip our wild horses from their families and homes. Grazing, water, extraction, the list goes on and on but it appears there may be some legitimate evidence as to what drives the BLM and the political underhanded deals that motivate the BLM to act in such a “un”-American fashion.

So instead of ungracefully ramming my infuriated and disgusted opinion down your weary optic nerves I am, instead, going to allow a LARGE group of others the opportunity to speak via the links listed below.

They all make for good reading but I believe the bigger picture to all of this is that the public is finally beginning to learn what we wild equine advocates have known for a long time and that is that the BLM has long been out of control and a Congressional investigation is long, long overdue.

I live for the day when I can witness several select employees of the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro program (past and present) handcuffed and lead into court for sentencing. Not only will millions of tax paying Americans be cheering for the good lady with the scales but the lost spirits of hundreds of thousands of tortured equine souls will be at peace as justice will finally be served.

Now wouldn’t that be a pretty picture?

Keep the faith.

















Google “BLM Bundy” for more

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Connecticut House: Horses are NOT “Inherently Vicious”

Connecticut politicians move to legislate the truth about equines

Recent press reports indicate that the members of Connecticut’s House of Representatives want to make it perfectly clear that they don’t believe horses are inherently vicious; a definitive response to a recent Connecticut state court ruling.

By a unanimous vote of 138-0, the House on Thursday passed legislation clarifying Connecticut law by saying domesticated horses are not wild animals and therefore are not inherently dangerous.

Last month, the Connecticut Supreme court upheld an Appellate Court ruling in a case involving a little boy bitten in 2006 by a horse named Scuppy in Milford. The ruling said a horse belongs to “a species naturally inclined to do mischief or be vicious.”

Rep. Debralee Hovey, a horse enthusiast, said the ruling put a billion-dollar industry at risk due to increased insurance premiums and legal liabilities.

The bill now moves to the Senate.

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