Removal of young Pryor Mustangs excludes helicopter use
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO. The Billings Montana BLM Field Office decision to remove 15 – 20 young horses from the Pryor Mountains this summer has met with an outcry and a lawsuit filed by an East Coast animal rights group, but not from The Cloud Foundation (TCF). “There is much misinformation being circulated about this herd and this removal, and we decided to underscore the facts,” stated Linda Hanick, TCF Board Member and Manager of the Foundation’s large Facebook page. “If every herd were this well documented, all our wild horse herds in the West would be in much better shape.”
The Billings BLM Field Office Decision Record outlines Alternative A, the Plan which they chose based on public comments. TCF clarifies much of the misinformation being circulated about this removal decision:
• 15-20 horses will be removed using bait-traps set up near water sources later this summer.
• There will be no helicopter roundup.
• The BLM is NOT removing all the horses on the mountain.
• The herd will remain at a genetically viable level above 150 horses.
• Specific horses are targeted for removal to create the least impact on the herd.
• Horses from well-represented family lines are targeted first, so family lines and unique colors will be retained on the mountain.
• There are no livestock grazing leases in the wild horse range. This wild horse range was established in 1968, (prior to the 1971 Wild and Free Roaming Act), for exclusive use by wild horses and other wildlife.
• The population of this herd is not inflated nor unknown.
For over two decades, Ginger Kathrens, Founder and Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation (TCF) has documented and advocated for the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd on the Wyoming-Montana border. The herd has become famous, largely because of Cloud, an unusual pale, palomino stallion with an indomitable spirit, documented from the day of his birth by Kathrens’ who produced three award-winning documentaries about the charismatic stallion for the PBS Nature series.
Ginger would be the first to say that she and TCF have often had opposing views to the BLM when it comes to wild horse management on public land. But in recent years, TCF has begun working with the Billings BLM to develop an “on the range” management plan that does not include chasing the horses for miles down treacherous, rocky trails with a helicopter.
“Many BLM field offices do not take public comments into consideration,” states TCF Communications Director, Paula Todd King.. “If an animal rights group really wants to raise funds from the public and spend money on lawsuits to fight the BLM, there are many BLM offices far more deserving of effort, money and attention than the managers of the Pryor herd.”
“Our goal and the goal of the Billings BLM is to eliminate removals in the future,” Kathrens concludes. “We’re not quite there yet, and I’d rather see fewer than 15 young horses removed this time around, but I believe that the current management strategies are leading to a day when no young mustangs will be removed, and every single foal born wild, will live its life in precious freedom.”
The Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range consists of over 39,000 acres of desert, forests, and high mountain meadows. The major issue facing wild horses in the Pryors is a shortage of rangeland. The US Forest Service and National Park Service have withdrawn 2 prime grazing areas, which limits the number of wild horses that the existing range can support.