The Cloud Foundation Clarifies BLM Action to Remove Select Young Pryor Mustangs

Removal of young Pryor Mustangs excludes helicopter use

Ginger filming Cloud and Family, May 2014 ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
Ginger filming Cloud and Family, May 2014 ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

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.


  1. thank you for a honest, truth comment. yes I feel that Billings BLM is doing a good job here, I have Raven a big black mustang from there, he is so awesome!


  2. 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.

    Then what is the purpose of meddling, I wonder?


    • In 2011 the US Forest service fenced off the herd’s prime summer pasture and removed all the horses in that area. The small range will only support so many horses. No one wants to see horses removed but by removing only a small number at least good homes can be found for them. If people want to protest what is going on in the Pryors they should target the US Forest Service and Bighorn Canyon Recreation area for limiting the rangeland available to horses.


  3. This remark ( “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.”)—-seems in conflict to this assertion–

    “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.”

    Why the disparity? What other use might those 2 grazing areas be used for? If the range was established in 1968, why is it being diminished now? Why not explain this obvious contradiction?


    • The US Forest Service and National Park service withdrew 2 prime WILD HORSE Grazing areas. The forage on those parcels would support more horses which would in turn allow for a higher population. There is no disparity. The only competition in the Pryors is other wildlife.


  4. It is extremely disappointing that TCF not only refuses to stand up for the last Pryor mustangs but has become PR mouthpiece for the blm and applauds the enemy. It’s beyond disappointing, it’s appalling. TCF has exploited and profited from Cloud and the Pryor mustangs for decades and now as Cloud the stallion’s life is waning, TCF sold out to the enemy. Funny how money can change one’s ideology.
    I’d like to clarify the “east coast” animal rights group, Friends of Animals, has a wildlife law group based in Colorado – same state as TCF.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Cloud Foundation is a Colorado registered 501(c)3 nonprofit whose sole purpose is to continue working for all the wild horse herds in the West on public lands. It spends thousands of man-hours on public lands with wild herds every year, and the work of the Foundation continues strong.. The Executive Director works as a volunteer, taking no salary from the Foundation.


    • This was very apparent for a couple of years. If TCF thinks they will achieve anything for Cloud’s legacy by acquiescing, they are wrong. In addition, the USFWS cares not a thing about wildlife. They may as well be called the USFW Dis-service. Besides the director will block anyone if they disagree.


  5. While somewhat encouraged by this article about the Billings branch of the BLM, I also had same reaction as others here. Why were grazing areas removed by the BLM if the area is specifically kept for use by wild horses and other wildlife? Doesnt really make sense.


    • Grazing areas were in the US Forest Service and the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area–not part of the BLM managed lands. These 2 entities withdrew these 2 parcels from use for wild horses. The BLM had no part in this withdrawal. However, the loss of these 2 parcels shrunk their available grazing land on the BLM land–and that is what squeezes them on Pryor Mtn.


  6. Please don’t take the baby’s its not right to take them away from there family’s have a heart BLM and the GOV ARE YOU THAT COLD HEARTED please think what it would mean to loose one of you own the horses have feelings and they rember who is good to them and who is not and who wants to help and who does not so please in begging you stop and think


  7. Please don’t shoot the messenger, but, a commenter on another blog stated that the two prime grazing areas are National Park Service land (Dept of Interior) and USFS (Dept of Ag) and those two entities no longer want the responsibility of Wild Horses on those two grazing areas. I personally do not know how true that is. So, maybe letters/emails to each of those Bureaus/Departments would be worth citizens writing letters to voice their concerns and find out the reasons why. Or make phone calls. TCF has commented before that they are working on obtaining additional acreage for the PMHs.

    Personally, I hate the thought of more Pryor Mountain Wild Horses being forced to be adopted. But, TCF, on Facebook yesterday was trying to reassure commenters that ALL Pryor Mountain Wild Horses will be adopted and will not see any long-term holding facilities. I live in Montana and if I was able to take at least two youngsters I certainly would, but, I’m not in a position that I own my own home/land. I don’t even know people that can afford to adopt any horses in these tough financial times.

    I have never met the Billings BLM folks, but, if they are born & bred Montanans, they have good hearts and this probably pains them as much as it does Wild Horse Advocates. I’ve never met anyone from TCF either, but, I believe that they too have our Pryor Mountain Wild Horses’ best interests at heart. The Pryor Mountain Wild Horses Project should be a model to other states that past drastic measures need not happen. We need to give this project a chance to work.TCF has been working with Billings BLM to form respectful relationships these last few years since the last helicopter roundup. If Billings BLM didn’t care about the horses why would Jared immediately get on the phone and call Ginger about Cloud when he lost his mares? He knew Ginger needed to know so she could be there to tell Cloud’s story. Ginger wasted no time leaving CO for MT. That doesn’t sound like someone who doesn’t care. Change and differences do not happen overnight. If this removal was at all unavoidable, it wouldn’t even be happening. Advocates need to weather through this minor storm and stay United. There are other herds of Wild Horses in other states that are worse off. Please be mindful of what good work advocates have been doing these last couple of years with positive court decisions. Please keep the faith…..

    This is my two cents through the tears.


  8. Too bad TCF has become a tool for the BLM to remove young horses from their families! They can try to justify and candy coat it all they want to, but it’s becoming exceedingly apparent that the health and welfare of the Pryor herd is no longer a priority to them. The BLM has new best buddies while the wild horses are being destroyed! Reduction of the allocated land is just okay with TCF, but none of BLMs so called management of wild horses and burros is alright with true advocates like FOA! What’s in it for TCF, I wonder? So sad you are a betrayal to the horses you have made so much money on, while claiming to protect! Do you and BLM party together or what? Shame on you!

    You use the same tactics as the anti animal rights groups, when you play the “East Coast” card on FOA, btw. First of all, FOA has existed longer than you and has more than one location. Secondly, advocates exist across this country and no matter where we are, we are Americans, with a voice and as much right to defend our beloved wild ones as you have to defend the BLM! News flash, the Pryor Herd and Cloud don’t belong to TCF or BLM, they belong to America and all of us. They belong to their families!! Hands off!!


  9. I don’t know why a wild horse being adopted is such a positive thing. There’s no telling what will happen to these horses once they leave their home. They may end up in a good home, they may be mistreated, they may end up sold. It’s a myth that should not keep being perpetuated.

    I’m shocked at the tone also, that we should be grateful that the horses aren’t being run down by helicopters! We’re not. It stinks and does not reflect the original intention of the Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

    And speaking of which, as far as “East Coast” animal rights group goes, the Horses are considered a ‘National’ treasure, and in the interest of the people of the entire country, as the Act is written.

    I suspect that uranium mines or other such thing is truly behind this.


  10. This might help answer some questions for those who are new to this:

    From the Cloud Foundation

    SCOPING NOTICE comments for removal of excess wild horses in the Pryor Mountains


    Please negotiate for rangeland expansion with the BCNRA and the USFS. Limitations on acreage for the Pryor herd remain a threat to the existence of a healthy, thriving population. Also, we ask that you look into range expansion onto Demijohn Flat, creating a natural bridge over Crooked Creek. This area was recommended for inclusion in the range in Ron Hall’s initial assessment of the herd in his 1973-74 Report. Again, volunteers and outside contractors could participate in such an exciting project.

    We also request that you immediately open the Administrative Pastures and take down all the Administrative fencing, using adaptive management as a justification. Volunteers would be readily available to assist with fence removal. We also request you identify and remove exclosures not currently being used for range monitoring, using volunteer assistance to accomplish this task.

    We also suggest that you meet with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, requesting a review of mountain lion hunting in the PMWHR. Reducing tags for lions could result in natural management.


  11. The Pryor Mtn wild horse population is at an at risk level and these young horses should not be removed. PZPing of the mares will insure a decline in vitality and has many deleterious effects. We must continue our fight for more habitat and restoration of the Custer Nat. Forest highland, and not be misled by the so-often insincere promises of BLM! We should be going for more habitat and more truly viable population number, not participating in the domestication of the wild horses. This is contrary to the core intent of the WFHBA! And it is not right!


  12. Stop the Fencing in of Cloud’s wild horse herd

    The Forest Service plans to build a two-mile-long fence that would prevent the Cloud’s herd from lands they’ve used for centuries. The horse graze on these wide, sub-alpine pastures in mid-summer through the fall but these lands have never been recognized as the horses’ rightful range. The fence would cut off historic horse trails they have used for over 250 years- and waste taxpayer dollars while scarring a valued natural and scenic ecosystem and further jeopardizing this herd.


  13. There is no authority for BLM’s “herd management areas” under WFRHBA

    The BLM has authorized itself to divide herd areas into “herd management areas”, something not authorized by WFRHBA. 43 CFR 4710.3-1. In this way, with no statutory authority at all, BLM has limited wild horses and burros’ access to thousands of acres that were historically their herd areas. This is done without thought about the horses’ seasonal migration patterns or available resources. The BLM then removes wild horses and burros from the artificially created “herd management areas” on the basis there is insufficient forage, water or habitat! BLM also targets them for removal if they cross the artificial boundaries into their original herd areas.

    While BLM has authorized itself to create divide herd areas into Herd Management Areas, its own regulations provide that “management of wild horses and burros shall be undertaken with the objective of limiting the animals’ distribution to herd areas, 43 C.F.R. § 4710.4.”Herd area” is defined by regulation as “the geographic area identified as having been used by a herd as its habitat in 1971,” 43 C.F.R. §4710.4.


  14. BLM regulation 43 CFR 4700.0-1 outlines the purpose of BLM regulations in regards to wild free roaming horses and burros … It would be anomalous to infer that by authorizing the custodian of the wild free roaming horses and burros to “manage” them, Congress intended to permit the animals’ custodian to subvert the primary policy of the statute by capturing and removing from the wild the very animals that Congress sought to protect from being captured and removed from the wild!


    • The law states the intent of Congress and the will of the American people that our wild horses be managed on the range in a humane and minimally intrusive manner that preserves their wild and free-roaming behavior. BLM policies are plans and decisions and statements that have been made by the BLM and associates – nothing more. Any policy established must be within the outline of the umbrella of the law it is required to follow. A policy or regulation or plan is nothing more than a strategy and is illegal if it does not follow the laws of the United States


  15. Here again – it seems it’s become more important to bash people of disparate belief than to save the LIVES of wild horses or burros.

    Disregarding the ‘legalities’, which the BLM has been interpreting with the same magic formula used to estimate populations, the salient facts are these horses will be removed – but not by helicopter. They will be adopted – not sent to a feed lot or a grass heap on foreign soil. They are the sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and grandchildren of the most famous wild horse on the planet. It’s truly unfortunate that we can’t seem to make more stallions and mares as famous as Cloud, but they should be, and we’re trying.

    Ginger Kathrens and RT Fitch are nobody’s shills. They don’t speak to or about BLM with reverence. They speak to them as equals. And compromise is NOT capitulation. We cannot effect changes in policies or procedures without a dialogue with the BLM. I’m not talking about dating them or having them over for tea. I’m talking simple, non-inflammatory conversation.

    We are coached to believe in absolutes, that everyone with a dissenting opinion must be an enemy or somehow evil. I’m against birth control or spaying or neutering of wild horses because no one can state with any certainty how many wild horses or burros actually exist in a particular area. We can’t, either. Overall, there are too few advocates to effectively monitor HMAs – especially the large ones – and there are too few field agents willing or able. So what do we do? Our first priority is to keep them on their ranges. Lacking that, we keep them alive, by whatever means necessary.

    You may fire when ready.


    • Lisa, good reply. I too believe the horses should be left in their herd areas – BUT obviously, they ARE going to be removed – no matter how anyone feels – that will happen! Its far better for them to be bait-trapped and adopted, rather than with a helicopter roundup & removal to LTH!!!!!!!!!! I would think that the Pryor Mountain horses – with all the publicity they have had from TCH over the years – would certainly be well known & WANTED. Sadly, very few of the herds have had that advantage – simply because as Lisa said – inability to monitor the HMAs effectively.
      Ginger Kathrens has never been anything but an advocate for Cloud’s herd and the other herds on the Pryors. In this instance, it sounds like the BLM agent onsite has also become one! Think about it – how often has this happened?
      One last thing – do we all (advocates) really want to make this a reason to bicker & complain BETWEEN us?


      • Regarding the removed grazing areas – READ the whole article above! Its not the BLM that’s doing that. Sounds like we should all be getting after the US Forest Service and the Park Service – the two parties that are responsible.


  16. Congress still does nothing about DOI/BLM breaking the 1971 WFRH&B Act. It has not even passed the SAFE Act yet.


  17. Domesticating, or trying to domesticate, a wild animal takes something away from them. It may look good to us, because we only see it from our narrow point of view. We claim they’ll be removed from danger, kept fed, but even if this were the truth, taking away another creature’s freedom, which we humans have even done to each other, is not good treatment.

    What happens if one of these horses does not end up in a good home, we read all the time about people who don’t care for their horses, adopt and hoard them so they end up starving, or when people’s situations change and they can no longer afford to keep them, so they sell them, abandon them, neglect them, or even send them to slaughter. Or in the worst case scenario, a dishonest kill buyer masquerading as a ‘good home’.

    What does the BLM do to ensure these animals don’t end up in a worse state of affairs? Or is it once they are off the ranges, they are forgotten? I wish this myth of adoption would go away.

    I’d rather see the Administration and its agencies stand up for the country’s wildlife, instead of compromising and capitulating out of fear of what ‘might’ happen and negotiating from a position of weakness right at the start. We’re seeing this with all of the environmental and wildlife laws that many people have fought for years to establish. It is unacceptable to the American people.


  18. There are no grazing allotments on the Pryor Mtn. Wild Horse Range. There are several private ranches on adjoining property to the range, however.


  19. This is a radio program from 2012 that might help fill in more history on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range for those who are new to this

    TS Radio: Wyoming activists vs the BLM

    Jerri Tillett joins us from Wyoming along with Nikki Spotted Eagle, and Cathy Bryarly, to discuss the malfeasance of the Bureau of Land (mis)Management (BLM) and the deceptive practices used by the agency in favor of invested stakeholders in the BLM. All three women have worked tirelessly to expose the deceptive practices of the BLM in their area.

    Jerri Tillett and Nikki Spoted Eagle have spent more than twenty years documenting the harm done by the BLM especially to the wild horse herds in Wyoming. This has culminated in the filing in the US District Court in Billings, Montana a case attempting to halt any further eradication of the wild horse herds in that area. Filing as a pro se, her case is docketed as CB-12-87-BLG-RFC/ Billings District.

    Cathy Bryarly has concluded a three year investigation into the BLM and has documented numerous instances of deceptive practices and lack of accountability within the BLM in her area.

    At issue here is the lack of accountability by a federal agency. Numerous lawsuits against the BLM highlight the lack of transparency, malfeasance and the continued deceptions used against the public and in the courts to implement unlawful plans by the agency.


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