The Bureau of Land Management confirmed today that Cloud, a wild horse beloved by millions of fans of the PBS series “Nature” is injured.
Horseback Magazine asked Billings, Montana Field Manager Jim Sparks if the agency sent someone up Pryor Mountain to determine the number of horses still injured after a roundup held over Labor Day week.
“He did videotape Cloud and several of the foals that were sore footed,” he said “including the one in the you-tube video. All appear to be normal. None appear to be limping or lame. Cloud does have what appears to be a cut above the hoof on one of his feet.”
Cloud was observed licking his right leg late last week by Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker Ginger Kathrens . She had shot video of the horse limping immediately after his release more than two weeks before..
The observations of Kathrens and the video shot by her are in conflict with a veterinary report filed by BLM Veterinarian Brent Thomson between September 3, and September 9. The report was release to Horseback Magazine after a Freedom of Information Act Request was filed. The veterinary report follows:
Sept. 3, 2009
Britton Springs , Wyo N44.99495 W108.34940 Elevation 4178’
Weather- warm clear with temps into the 90’s
9 am briefing: Jim Sparks
Objectives: capture horse till 70 “removable” horses are caught
fertility control to be given to some of the released horses
collect genetic materials (hair samples)
The day’s gather consisted of the capture of several small groups of horses. All groups of horses were examined within minutes of capture for signs of heat stress or excessive exertion from being captured in the heat. No sign of heat stress or exertion were observed. The horses went into pens with water upon arrival at the capture facility.
Fourteen head were captured over the course of the day. These animals were
all off of the southern tip of the range which is located in Wyoming. All animals were prepped in a quiet, humane and orderly manner, which included hair collection, fertility control as warranted and marking with paint for those animals to be returned to the range. I took the opportunity to look at each horse closely and found them generally to be in good flesh and with the overall appearance of good health. The animals then went to pens with food and water for the evening. The hay was grass hay that was clean of weeds, mold free and fed in adequate amounts. The pens were not overcrowded and the animals had settled in within minutes and were eating the hay. A three year old mare that is quite thin and her foal will be kept in and fed for several weeks to build her up for winter.
September 4, 2009 Britton Springs
Sunny and clear, temps into the 90’s
The horses held overnight looked good this morning and had eaten much of the hay put out for them. Today’s horses will come from The Dryhead and Mustang Flats to the east of Britton Springs. Many fewer people (private citizens) were here today. Several local forest fires are burning but the air quality remains good and shouldn’t be a factor in today’s gather By mid morning about 20 horses were captured, once again all looked good and no signs of heat related stress. About 10 head were left to capture but the helicopter could not find them after penning the first bunch. Because the day
was warming up those horses were not pursued. The 20 head were prepped quietly and quickly and other than the horses slated for adoption the remainder were trailered back to The Dryhead area. Almost all of the horses were in good shape (BCS 4+/5) and had no gather related injuries. None of the mares injected with PZP had any visible injection site blemishes. Again all of the animals in the corral were well fed and watered.
Tomorrow’s gather will be Commissary Ridge with the plan to remove all of the horses there as they are outside the PMWHR and on Forest Service land.
September 5, 2009 Commissary Ridge N45.16792 W108.42366 Elevation 7270’
Sunny with light haze, temps into the 80’s on the mountain
Panels and jute fence wings were set up on Commissary Ridge and horses
were gathered by helicopter quickly into the trap with minimal stress. I estimate 24 horses were gathered over three hours and trailered down to Britton Springs. On the way down one of the trailers hauling horses had one set of wheels slide off of the road. The trailer was stuck for about 30 minutes.
When the trailer was freed and arrived at Britton Springs I watched the horses unload and carefully checked for injury. I saw none. The first group of adoption horses were then prepped which entails a blood draw for Coggins, vaccination against the common horse diseases and freeze branding. Dr. Lyle Bischoff from Lovell, WY did the EIA testing. 35 horses were processed by 6 pm. During the processing two horses jumped out of the side of the chute but neither incurred any injuries or escaped. The preparation crew worked quietly and efficiently with minimal stress on the horses or the workers. We’ve been changing the way we process the horses here, with help from our workers compensation law firm, we are making sure it is safer for all involved. All of the horses were well fed and watered in pens of proper size. None of the previously injected mares had any visible injection site lumps.
September 6, 2009 Commissary Ridge and Britton Springs
Sunshine and temps in the 80’s on the mountain, 90’s at Britton Springs The
five more horses on Commissary Ridge were gathered by 8:30 am and hauled to Britton Springs. The portable trap was dismantled and the crew moved down to Britton Springs. The helicopter started gathering the west side of Pryor Mtn. and brought in 2 groups totaling about 31 head. By 2 pm the temperature was sufficiently warm that gathering operations for the day were ceased. The animals were sorted and the release horses were sampled for genetic testing and administered fertility control as needed. No adoption horse prepping was done. Once again the BLM crew worked efficiently and had no horse escapes or untoward incidents of any kind. The animals were handled humanely and showed no undue stress upon release from the chute. The fertility control mares remain free of visible injection site reactions. All of the animals had adequate pen space and ample food and water. The thin three year old mare and her foal that were sorted off on day 1 are doing well. The mare now has a visible udder and the foal seems to be getting more milk.
September 7, 2009 Britton Springs Cooler with clouds, temps into the low 80’
It was too windy to fly until late morning. Approximately thirty six head captured today, including “Cloud” and his harem. We prepped 12 head for adoption, released 11 head from the pens and PZP injected several mares. Everything in the trap looked good and well fed. About 5:30 pm one of the mares (Brumby) from the last group in began to show symptoms reminiscent of tying up. She was treated with Banamine and began to show improvement within 15 minutes. Within two hours she was nearly normal. Just after I left for the evening, one of Cloud’s mares started getting colicky. It about 6:30 pm when they crew called me on the cell phone. I turned around and returned to Britton Springs. Due to her wild nature, I could only do a cursory examination. She was definitely colicky and she was treated with Banamine and Torbugesic and returned to her pen. She was standing quietly when I left. I will be back at Britton Springs at 7 am to check on our patients and get ready for the days work.
September 8, 2009 Britton Springs Temps in the low to mid 80’s Only 15 head in two bunches were captured today. The last bunch came in with
several sore footed animals. Because of this and many other factors Jared Bybee ended the capture portion of this operation. The total capture was up to around 146 head which was considered close enough to the target to make this the last capture day. We worked the animals through the chutes collecting hair samples and marking them for release. Two foals were quite sore footed. They were out of young mares that did not appear to be milking well and also had some degree of stress from the trip in and going through the chute. I had concerns about potential stress and hydration issues and I made the decision to postpone treatment till morning when they had recovered some. I walked through all the pens and with the exception of the foals everything looked good. No injection site blemishes were present and the colic horse and the possible tying up horse both looked good. All of the pens had adequate feed and water without any overcrowding.
September 9, 2009 Britton Springs
Clear and warm temps into the upper 80’s I treated the two foals with sore feet with Banamine about 8 am. We caught them in the pen to minimize stress. By 9 am they were much improved and I visited with Dr. Lyle Bischoff about further treatment. We prepped the remaining horses for adoption and I once again walked through the pens to look at the horses that still remained as many were turned out over the course of the day. No injection site reactions were noted and all of the horses had plenty of food and water. This was my first gather and I was very impressed with the quality of the work of all of the BLM staff and capture crew around me. They
performed safely and efficiently the task of capturing and handling these horses without experiencing a single horse death or serious injury. The people were knowledgeable and answered all of my questions and responded to any concerns I had. I was pleased to see the outstanding effort to handle all of the horses humanely which I am certain is standard operating procedure. Again, as this was my first gather, I did not know what to expect
as far as the use of the helicopter. What I saw was the animals moving slowly at either a walk or a trot guided by the helicopter till the last several hundred yards and the pace was increased to a gallop till the animals passed through the outer gate into the capture pens. I always looked over the animals within minutes of their capture and even with temperatures in the 90’s I never saw what I considered sweated up, tired horses that had been run a long ways. The most common scenario was the animals mildly sweated along their necks and many went to eating and drinking within minutes of their arrival at Britton Springs. The last groups captured had traveled the farthest and had recovery time of about 20-30 minutes.
I was a bit surprised at all the people that were allowed into the horse working
chute area. To me it seemed to interfere with the flow of things. I suppose the extra people made extra noise and their presence agitated the horses further, made it more difficult for the prep crew to concentrate on their jobs and we always had to stop to wait for people in the alley ways to clear out so we could move horses. One morning we prepped a group of horses at 7 am, before so many people had arrived and it was the smoothest and least stressful of all of times I saw horses prepped. I know when we are working bison we don’t allow people even in the area till after we are done. The crew is better able to focus on their jobs, we aren’t stumbling over people and the safety issues aren’t magnified by extra numbers of people. There are the occasional media days but the media are escorted everywhere in small groups and not allowed to interfere with operations by close up filming or asking questions of the crew while working.
(Note: The “extra people” in the “processing” area were not the third party
Humane Observer, Elyse Gardner, as she was never allowed that close nor were they any of the peaceful “protesters” or members of the Cloud Foundation. These people were kept at a considerable distance and totally out of the area – R.T.)