Equine Rescue

Grim Horse Toll in South Dakota Blizzard

Source: HorseTalk

“The fate of former wild horses being held captive by BLM contractors in long term SD holding remains uncertain.  We will issue an update when information is made available.” ~ R.T.

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Medicine-Hat-8-676x450The horse toll from the major blizzard that struck South Dakota appears likely to number several hundred, with cattle losses from the storm likely to be in the tens of thousands.

Authorities are still trying to get a handle on cattle losses from the storm.

No official figures are available on horses losses, but individual news reports across the state point to ranchers losing significant numbers of animals.

One ranch alone reported the loss of 90 horses used at a summer camp while a sanctuary lost 50 foals and many older horses.

The western part of the state was hardest hit in the storm, from October 4 to 7, which brought bitterly cold winds and a heavy snow dumping.

Ranchers were being encouraged to document their losses.

In some cases, ranchers have lost up to half their cattle herds.

Agriculture is South Dakota’s main industry, generating over $US21 billion in annual economic activity and employing more than 122,000 South Dakotans…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story at HorseTalk

61 replies »

  1. This is so SAD…I feel so bad for these people and the loss of the Wild horses many foals, and so many cattle.
    Very unusual storm that hit when animals didn’t have their winter coats.

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  2. problem here..since when is So.Dakota on the Ocean? that’s an ocean and islands in the back ground ground, the dead horses are a fact! and God knows it’s a tradegy! horses are horses no matter where they died, but if your going to post about them, lets get the facts right…..

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    • Good grief, that is melting snow in the background with a treeline in the distance…you can see mountains behind. This is a verified photo and is not bogus. Why is energy being wasted on trying to bash instead of trying to help. It is quite so disturbing and disappointing. Our thoughts and prayer go out to those who are trying to help and to the horses who were lost.

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    • Might be a good idea to click on the photo and look at it enlarged before making such a silly comment. If you do, you will very clearly see snow, with grass poking up through it, poles and wires, trees and mountains in the background. Definitely not the ocean if you take a moment to look. If you’re going to post about something, let’s get the facts right…

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    • Hi Gale ..I dont usually reply on these blogs because people can be rude and I think that is a shame as we are all here as guests. I looked at the picture closely because you said it was a ocean and I see yellow grass and telephone/or power poles running across the back ground.This looks to be a muddy tree lined(far back) field w/snow still on the ground in places….please have a look again…I think you’ll see it is a field .I have found this to be a outstanding site for honest info…you have a wonderful day .Sincerely,
      Dolly

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      • Suzie, When did Ocean’s have fences and t-posts sticking up. If you look closely and correctly you will SEE it is not the OCEAN!! The trees in the back are not on Islands either there just off in the distance. It is very clear to see it is not an Ocean or Islands so before you slam someone get your Facts Straight!!!!

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  3. I could care less about the cattle or the ranchers. WHAT ABOUT THE HORSES? This ranchers have both insurance and their subsidies to live on. That will more than cover their losses. What about the horses?????

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    • Yes Terri It is all about the Horses here , I feel bad for the cattle themselves who were lost , but have nothing for the Ranchers , they will recover their losses , but the Horses wel will never recover , !!!!!!

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      • There have been some posts about karma-karma is not the problem here, it is stupidity-in the past 20 or so years to many people from the city have decided to make a “”career change”” and have decided that ranching is that career, they can buy a hundred cows put them on public land-buy a $75,000 dully pickup, $800 boots, a $500 cowboy hat, and walk around calling themselves ranchers(in reality they don’t know a cowboy from a cows a$$) when times are good-it’s great for them-times like this they want someone else to bail them out-simply because they did not do their due diligence-and because of their stupidity all these animals died and died horribly. My sister and brother live and were born in S.D., they have wood/pellet stoves and generators they lost power for 4 days and did not lose one animal-because they know bring them in close and with snow mobiles and atvs, tractors you can get to them. This storm was bad but not uncommon—-I say if you buy in MO. you better expect/prepare for a tornado-buy in FL. your better expect/prepare for a hurricane, buy in the Mountains expect/prepare for a forest fire, buy along a stream/river expect/prepare for a flood and if you buy in Montana, Wyonming, North/South Dakota you damn well better expect and prepare for a fricking blizzard and if you don’t do your homework don’t come begging and expect someone else to bail your a$$ out.
        Nature takes care of her own and if the horses and cows that were in this blizzard had been able to get to shelter and not been fenced in their instinks would have kicked in and many may have survived–even in nature it is suvival of the fittest.
        For they sake of all animals ranching and farming is not -a career change- it is serious businness because lives depend on you and are not their to bust your ego—-remenber this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRDaPEaDJ7E

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      • Geri, where DO you get your information? This ranch family has NEVER owned a $75,000 dully pickup, or any other vehicle that would cost that much. We pay an average of $110 for our boots, which are ‘work boots’, not cowboy boots. We do have cowboy boots, but don’t wear them as much as the others. We still ave. about $100 a pair for those. We have cowboy hats, they sure as hell didn’t cost $500, probably more like $39. But we don’t wear them, the guys were caps and the hats are more like dust collectors. I believe there are cowboys, and there are cowmen. My husband and 2 sons, ranchers that they are, are cowmen. And by the way, they do know the difference between a cowboy and a cows arse. They know everything about the cow, and about horses. Those people in SD, (I can’t speak for all of them, but I know some) do know how to treat animals. It has not been cold yet there, not enough to get winter coats growing. The cattle were turned out on summer range, which they would not be there as the weather turned colder. They would have been in closer to be able to get to. How about the rancher that just bought replacement heifers, when the snow started, he put them all in a huge steel building he had for protection. Good guy, right? Well the roof caved in and they all died. He had just purchased them for $2000 each. There are NO subsidies for loss of cattle, unless they step in and help them out this time. And by the way, he is not BEGGING for one tiny bit of help. He is devastated at how he is going to make it for his family. He isn’t on any BLM ground, like people seem to think all ranchers are. And don’t tell me I, as a rancher, have some stupid ego I’m trying to fill. For the ranchers that do it right, (not all horse owners do it right either) – I doubt the ‘normal’ human being could go thru what is demanded during the year of a ranch family.

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    • I have news for Terri and Arlene; and karma Geri. Most of those ranchers do NOT have insurance, and if they receive any ‘subsidies’ for their loss, it will be a first. You must be thinking of ‘farmers’ – they receive subsidies for the loss of their crops. Ranchers do not receive subsidies for their cattle, or horses (which WE all have) and they mostly are not just fly-by-nights that just decided one day to get into the ranching business. You have absolutely NO idea of how this storm hit, or the conditions of it. I am a rancher. And damn proud of it. We have horses, and love both the horses and cattle. We do not have insurance on the cattle, I don’t know that you can even get such a thing anymore. We used to have insurance on our bulls for lightning, but dropped that about 20 years ago, and hope they don’t get hit. Shame on you for thinking these ranchers’ loss will be covered. It will not. The government may step in on this one, since it was so drastic, but probably not enough. We ranch, we have horses. There are ranch people that probably shouldn’t have cattle, but aren’t there ‘horse people’ that probably shouldn’t have horses. It’s a damn shame that some people have no heart for the heartbreak those people are going through. It is NOT just about money and profit either. We do have a heart for every animal we own. Thank you R.T. for letting me have a voice. And thank you for always having the information available.

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      • Vicki~~~~I was not refering to any certain person-in any certain article-My family and now my brother and sister and their families have cattle in S.D. and have for over 60 years-no they do not get help from any agency and I never said that anyone did I simply said that too many people think they can become cattlemen-but when something like this happens, they can do the old woo is me card and expect someone else to bail them out-they did not take the time to learn in advance that S.D. weather is just a blizzard waiting to happen-cattle people in S.D. know as I stated before bring them in close-if they don’t know that they are negligent-and yes the ones I am talking about are the ones that should never have had cows in the first place-old timers like my dad know this, but no one takes the time to learn from them-and this is the consequence.
        And the boots remark is just because when we were kids and would go to the diner the old guys would look at those nice boots and wonder if they had ever stepped in a cowpie-I got my information from my sister who stated this is not the worst she has seen, the worst was 7 feet of snow and I was not trying to offend anyone-just saying that if people took the time to care and learn then when a situation like this happened it would not have the sad ending that this one did–I am sorry but this much loss could have been prevented, with planning and knowledge.

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      • Vicki, I am shocked and saddened by the complete ignorance of some people. This storm came during a time when the livestock was still out on summer turnout. They had not grown their full winter coats. No one expected the blizzard to be half as devastating as it ending up being. Hindsight is always 20/20. I feel terrible for the ranchers whose livelihood depends on their animals.

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  4. There are lots of people that love their horses and cattle….and are desperately sad that they died NOT just from a financial perspective. This was a tragedy for all concerned, animal and human. Whether or not we agree with the BLM and the holding pens filled with our wild herds, there are some people that care for and about their well being and are devastated at the losses. Imagine how they felt when they went out to check on them post storm….try not to be as heartless as the BLM!

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  5. My only comment is that the photo is clearly not from SD. It shows an ocean in the background. It is a tad misleading. What is that photo posted with the story?

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    • Sigh…that is SNOW in the background and a treeline, behind you can see mountains. It IS a verified photo from the scene. Shame that the concern is not on the loss of the horses but instead on misconstruing a photo.

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      • R.T., guess people think the ocean has telephone lines in it. You are right, the concern is the loss of horses. Can’t believe people sometimes.

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      • Really, apparently people do not read the previous posts to understand that an ocean does not have telephone lines and poles. Apparently, they also do not realize that large amounts of snow when it melts pools to make lakes in any low spot. Snow, when it melts, makes water.

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    • All of you seeing the ocean, etc. If you had read Karen’s brief writing and that of the journalist, you would understand that the snow melted SO quickly after the storm left, due to rapidly rising temps, that the area became a quagmire of mud and standing water. Their tractor broke down in the muck. This is the legacy of our unstable atmosphere and weather patterns that scientists have been warning is our “new normal” Please read before letting your eyes tell you what you think you see..

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    • The sad thing is that the general public is JUST learning about this now! This happened two weeks ago! And, yes, that IS South Dakota. All of that snow melted very quickly, resulting in massive amounts of mud.

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  6. I agree with Maryann, to a point. Loss of any animal (or, human) life is sad & heart-breaking. But that’s where I stop. I’m sorry the cattle died, but, that was a better fate than what surely awaited them, regardless of how much the rancher cared about his or her, cattle. I am HAPPY they died before the ranchers could make any slaughter money from them. I am not “as heartless as the assinine BLM”, however, because THEY caused the wild horse problem in the first place. Nature does what nature does, that is why it’s called, “survival of the fittest”, to ensure stronger future generations of animals. Left alone, & on their own, with their God given instincts, more wild horses would have survived, though some would certainly have perished due to the surprise & harshness of the weather. Who knows? Maybe God is trying to tell us humans something, like leave His precious creatures, especially wild animals, alone, or, pay the consequences!? Wild horses & burros do not belong in holding pens, ever, for any reason, they belong where God put them, in the wild!

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    • It is sad you are HAPPY they died before the ranchers could make any slaughter money from them. Are you happy about how they suffered before they died? Is this just a spite of ranchers having cattle. I am so sick of hearing this. I ranch. I have cattle. I have horses. Our cows are not in some stupid pen somewhere in a feedlot, like I think some people believe all cattle are. Are cows are well taken care of, we sell them to grass finishers. They don’t see a feedlot. The people we sell them to have their own processor, (or killer as some would prefer to say). I might say that probably our cattle anyway, have a much better life than a great many, many horses. When we have to put a horse down, which by the way is like family to us, our vet makes a sleep time med, and we have them euthanized in a humane way. We give honor to our horses. And for your information, nature is damn hard on wild animals, as I’m sure you are aware.

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  7. I have been looking for information on our WILD HORSES captured by BLM and being held at two long-term facilities in South Dakota and with the exception of the very sad ISPMB article and some mention of ranch horses who died as a result of the blizzard, I have found no information.

    There are two BLM holding facilities in mid South Dakota:
    Mission Ridge 1000 capacity (1007 as of Aug.2013)
    Whitehorse 400 capacity (382 as of Aug 2013)

    I do know per previous FOIAs, that many of our Twin Peaks and Calico horses were sent there. If anyone has any information about our wild horses in SD – please share it.

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    • I agree. A couple of years ago an equine expert from NCSU giving a talk on the nature of the horse to a class I was taking told us that research indicates that the heaviness of a foals coat is determined within 24 to 48 hours of birth and is based on the temperature and precipitations.

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      • Yes very TRUE…….I adopted a PMU Foal out of Canada 10 years ago and he is the wooliest Horse still in the Winter. He almost looks like a Long HAIRED CAT!!! He’s a Paint and very cute furry but when spring comes boy does he shed.

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  8. Even more tragic is that these Wild Horses should NEVER have
    been removed from their Legal Herd Management Areas in the Western states,
    where they have adapted through generations. This article was written in 2009. How many more of our Wild Horses and Burros have disappeared from our public lands since then?

    http://americanherds.blogspot….
    What’s Left?

    As the united call to stop BLMs unchecked assault on the American mustang & burro
    continues to gain momentum, with over 180 organizations and celebrities now
    supporting a moratorium to halt any further removals until key issues can be
    resolved, here’s one more reason to demand a “cease and desist” until a full
    scale investigation can be conducted on the Wild Horse & Burro Program to
    determine what’s really left out on the range.

    Since 2001, BLM has reported removing over 80,000 wild horses and burros at an
    average of 10,000 animals per year. Despite these aggressive efforts, they
    continue to report little to no impact has been made on reining in their
    “excess” populations, a nebulous term BLM continues to define and an even more
    elusive goal they never seem able to achieve.

    Until Congress demands an independent count of the populations BLM has been reporting, both on and off the range, the evidence continues to mount that “What’s Left?” has reached critical levels of concern.

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  9. The pictures are heart-breaking. What an awful loss for Karen and for all of us. What they all went thru is beyond belief. And this happened to an organization that knows what the weather can do. Can we find out exactly how the horses in the LTH in SD make out? Or will the BLM ever tell us the truth?

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  10. Regarding the standing water issue, here are Karen’s words—
    “The water was beginning to run off the hill in torrents streaming down the pasture into the gelding pasture where it began to collect. At one time, there was three feet of water covering parts of the pasture. We had only experienced this once before in 2010 when 16 tornadoes touched down in our area. “

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  11. When I was a teenager a rancher friend once asked me if I knew what made a good cowboy. I was thinking along the lines of riding, roping, etc. when I told him I could not think of any one thing. He told me, “A good cowboy can move a cow from point A to point B and she will have gained weight when she gets there.” He treated any and everything in his life in such a manner…..family, friends, livestock, equipment, wildlife….everything. Too many people have a vision of a cowboy being a rough and tumble sort. Even President Bush was criticized as having cowboy economics or cowboy diplomacy. Sadly, those criticizing him are ignorant of what it means to be a good cowboy. Respectfully, Larry Christesson

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    • Larry, for my sons and husband; thank you. I wouldn’t even want them to read the comments about the bad and stupid ranchers….some people just have no clue.

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  12. RT and others, why on earth is there NO information on the status of the horses held by the BLM in SD? We have some eyewitness news from Nevada, and supposedly there are staff still working to feed all the captives wherever they are during the government “inversion.”

    If they were free they could try to escape the storm, but since we have confined them we’ve made them completely dependent. It breaks me to see so many photos of the blizzard showing animals who died in the barbed wire, trying to move out of harm’s way.

    Surely someone has been to the two SD facilities by now? If not, are any of those 1,400 horses still alive???? Can’t someone fly over and and least check for signs of food and water? Anyone???

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  13. http://www.ktvq.com/news/montanans-rally-to-help-after-devastating-blizzard-hits-south-dakota-ranchers/?fb_action_ids=10201531027696136&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_ref=.UlyE-8wn8f8.like&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582#_

    Montanans rally to help after devastating blizzard hits South Dakota ranchers
    BOZEMAN – A Bozeman non-profit is asking for donations to help South Dakota ranchers recover from an early October blizzard.

    The blizzard dumped as much as four feet of snow in some areas, and killed at least 20,000 head of livestock.

    Kerry White of Citizens For Balance Use (CBU) explained, “We don’t know if the government is going to step in or if they have any ability or desire to do that, so what we’re looking at is good neighbor policy.”

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  14. If the wild horses had been left in the wild where they should have been most of them would have survived. From the photos they had no shelter at all. In the wild they would found shelter under trees, in canyons. They would have known where to go.

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  15. SD….one of the Dakotas, states known throughout history as having some of the most hellish weather settlers and ranchers ever knew. And yet, folks with grit still manage to eke out a living there! No faint hearts ranching THERE! Y’all need to quit pitchin’ fits about what SHOULDA been done!!! I live in sunny SoCal, and I’ve had to endure frostbit fingers and toes attempting to do right by my horses in freakish weather! NO ONE was sittin’ by a cozy fire warming their toes, sippin’ hot cider when this blew through, I can guaran-damn-tee you THAT! Ranchers and farmers are pretty heroic when it comes to their livestock, and this was a hard enough lesson without blame needing to be assigned! You don’t think these folk are kickin themselves hard ENOUGH??? Sorry for your losses SD.

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    • Shirley, I’m from Nebraska; but not too far away from the devastation. We caught just the south edge of that thing. You are so right what you say. I can’t speak for farmers, but I know the ranchers were busting their butts trying to do what they could. One problem, (which I don’t think some people understand)…just what can you do in a blizzard? If you’ve never been in one, snow and sleet flying with 60 mile per hour winds – do they have any idea what distance visibility is? I’ve been in those,,,you can see as far as 6′ in front of you; and I am not exaggerating. So if the situation was like that; and cattle and horses were out on a summer pasture; or think of the ravines that are up there, the animals would be trapped from 10′ – 12′ snow drifts; it would be impossible. Thanks for your comments. You are so correct. I can’t imagine finally being able to get to the animals, and see the death.

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      • Livestock/Horses are Range/Pasture Animals Do these people think they can just open up there House and roll in 200 head of Cattle and bed down for the Night!!! Come On People have some Compassion. Disasters like this happen all the time and we can only Hope for the Best outcome. This one had death sentence all over it when it rolled in. Ranchers did what they could. They didn’t just go curl up in front of there fireplaces and have a Glass of Wine and ride it out. They sat looking out there windows with no sleep praying all would be OK in the end and wonder what could they have maybe done otherwise!!!!! I have 3 Horses on Pasture and No Barn and live in Sunny Calif. but it could happen here too. We have gotten snap freezes and I then Blanket my Babies and once I put there shipping Boots on there legs. There feet are still on the ground. And if it’s Raining/Snowing then the shipping boots don’t do squat!!! There is shelter from Tree’s but half the time they stand in the freezing Rain and ride it out. Butts to the Wind. I just feed them good so they stay warm and hope for the best. Bringing them in the house is not an Option but if push came to shove I might. Ranchers in SD didn’t have this Option. Lighten up folks and stop criticizing from your recliner’s!!!!

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    • It seems to me that part of the problem may have been that the horses are foaling later possible as a result of PZP or not. I know Karen is doing formal studies and I do not know the details, but one of the factors in the first year survival rate is if the foal is born in the natural season (spring to early summer). This is nature’s way of giving the horse the best chance to survive.

      This was a WET snow. A horse’s coat is not as effective when it is both cold and WET. These horses as were the cattle and the ranchers caught in a rare event. There was one similar to this in my childhood when we had an early October snow. The weight of the snow felled large trees creating a child’s best jungle ever(after the snow metered and before the trees were removed. Because there was no apparent loss of life where I lived, I remember it pleasantly, but these events happen.

      Reports from this area said that some of the best prepared were the worst hit, and some of the least prepared were spared. This is the way these events work. There is no rhyme or reason. They occur to remind us, I think, that we are not in control nor should we be.

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      • Exactly, it was much Worse than Predicted and very Cold and Wet. A Rancher/Owner can only do so much then it’s in God’s Hands. Up there one day a Storm then Sunshine. They also said the Horses/Cattle got very Dissoriented in the Fierce Blowing Snow and Ended up miles away!!! Nature was the only one in Control and Nature was very CRUEL!!!!

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  16. Jeese, I made a mistake, no, I didn’t enlarge the picture, another mistake..I didn’t mean to start a “range war” on here, besides, this is about the HORSES! whether to natural causes, mother nature or slaughter, they’re gone! I’m so sorry this has happened to them and may it NEVER happens again!!…and for whomever wanted to know, I’m from Maine and live on the coast…

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  17. This is about the horses, but it is so much more. This is a human tragedy as well. Every cow that died must have suffered terribly from the cold, wet, white, fear.

    We always ask, “What about the horses?” We need to make some friends with the ranchers, farmers, and locals where the horses are—farmers and ranchers love to help others out with their tractors and other equipment. I know that there are some evil people working against our wild horses, but maybe if we could get them to realize that the wild horses and burros are on the land because their presence is important to the American people, and let they know that the American people share their concerns, we’d get a lot further with our advocacy for wild horses.

    The ranchers and farmers face the same enemy that the wild horses and burros do. The very same groups that have sat on national advisory councils to get rid of wild horses want rid of cattle grazing as well—and they are getting their ducks in a row as they remove our wild horses and place the others at risk.

    Whether you realize this or not, groups like the Sierra Club, TNC, the IUCN pose a much greater threat to our wild horses than some of the corporations we want to imagine are behind this. Rethink your paradigm.

    Pray for the ranchers, the cattle, and the horses, Send help if you can.

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    • Amen let’s put our Energy into helping and not Harming these Beautiful Animal’s!!! God put them here for a Reason and Harming them was not the Reason!!! Praying for all God’s Creation’s. Have you HUGGED your HORSE TODAY!!!!

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  18. first of all, the place that lost 90 horses is a breeder. they run a little camp on the side but mostly a breeder. second, what the hell is a sanctuary doing with 50 foals. quit breeding! and yes I am from SD and know what I’m talking about.

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