Horse News


Press Release from The Cloud Foundation

BLM decision threatens future of Pryor Mustang herd

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – The Bureau of Land Management in Billings, Montana has launched an attack on the wild horses of the Pryor Mountains on the Montana-Wyoming border.

After a lengthy comment and review period, the BLM Billings Field Office has disregarded public comment and scientific analysis. The office has decided to reduce the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd by removing seventeen animals.

“The Pryor herd is already genetically threatened,” said Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation and Humane Advocate on the BLM’s National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board. “Renowned equine geneticists have already noted a genetic decline in this herd. To reduce the size of this herd when the population is already declining naturally is counterintuitive, inhumane, and unnecessary.”

Indeed, equine geneticist Dr. Gus Cothran stated in an August 2013 genetic analysis of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range that “Genetic variability of this herd in general … has been in decline. This is likely due to the population size that has been maintained in recent years.”

The “appropriate management level,” or the number of animals the BLM determines is “appropriate” for each individual herd, has been set at 90-120 animals for the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. Dr. Cothran has long stated that populations must be maintained at 150-200 animals in order to preserve genetic viability. Additionally, the Billings Field Office neglected to increase the AML when the range was expanded to include the Administrative Pastures, increasing the amount of forage available to the herd.

The planned roundup and removal of 17 animals in the Pryor Mountain herd will dip the population number below genetic viability, threatening the longevity and sustainability of the herd.

“This is a direct assault on the health and viability of this herd,” said Lisa Friday, Director of Communications for The Cloud Foundation. “Hundreds of people commented to remind this office that these horses are already in genetic danger, and clearly the field office is not concerned about it.”

The Cloud Foundation made efforts to meet with the Billings Field Office prior to the release of a decision record regarding this roundup. “We came out of the BLM meeting in Billings thinking it went well,” said Linda Hanick, Board Member and Social Media Manager for The Cloud Foundation. “They seemed receptive and listened to our recommendations, and we had some good discussions. But when the decision record came out, it was obvious they had already made their minds up.”

Official management documents require the BLM Billings Field Office to manage the herd in a way that preserves rare colors and genetic lines. The office has several animals on their list for removal who represent rare colors and genetic lines, showing an official disregard for those management decrees.

Removal of any horses that are buckskin, chestnut, sorrel and palomino could result in the loss of these colors in the future as reported by foremost color geneticist, Dr. Phillip Sponenberg, in his Report on Pryor Mountain Mustangs in October of 1994. Dr. Sponenberg also acknowledges that color variation is one reason that this particular herd is popular with the public. “These are everyone’s horses (since we all pay taxes), and need to be managed so that future everyone’s can enjoy this historic and unique resource,” Dr. Sponenberg said.

BLM Billings Field Office’s decision threatens the most historically, genetically, and economically important wild horse herd in the American west. The horses in these mountains have been there for hundreds of years. They are descendants of the Crow Indian ponies, and are direct descendants of the genetically significant Spanish colonial horses.

“People from all over the world come on tours with me,” said Nancy Cerroni of the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center. “Their faces light up when they see these beautiful Spanish horses on top of this spectacular mountain.”

Cerroni leads tours for the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center, based in Lovell, WY, to show people the herd out on the range. She is also responsible for maintaining records on each Pryor mustang and worries genetics will be lost because of the size of this removal. “This could be extremely detrimental to the health and survival of this unique herd,” Cerroni said.

The Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range herd has garnered an international audience after the three Cloud documentaries, filmed and directed by Ginger Kathrens, aired on PBS’s Nature series. The films followed the life of a Pryor Mountain wild horse name Cloud, and illustrated the rich social structure on which wild horses depend for survival.

“A removal of this size is a disaster for such a small herd,” Kathrens said. “Not only will genetic viability be threatened, but removing so many members of such a small herd will threaten the social structure of this herd. These wild horses deserve to remain with their families, in their family bands, on their home range.”

22 replies »

  1. This is sickening news. The BLM is the worst agency ever and it’s evident they hate animals and are hell bent on destroying innocent lives. There is just no end! This is so wrong!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We just stopped the BLM from tearing apart our fish springs wild horse herd here in nevada . I went to almost every protest and participated to the fullest without breaking the law I hope the Turds at BLM get the same heat they got here in nevada. GOOD LUCK

    Liked by 2 people

  3. These horses deserve to live their lives wild and free. The BLM is a traitor to our wild horse heritage….and our country’s love of these magnificent creatures. God help us when our government turns against our values.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Three months ago, i moved from Helena, MT to Billings to be closer to the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses.Who does that? Obvious someone who loves them. I guess I will be making an effort to visit the office every week so that they put names and faces of those that love these precious Wild Horses. I was dreading this decision. I have an ache in my stomach and my heart hurts just thinking of which little ones will lose their precious lives. I have grown to love them, watch them, photograph them. know many of them by sight & name, and enjoy the drama, the “Payton Place” that the mountain has experienced this summer. This is a very very sad day indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The BLM office is only a few blocks out of my way on my route home. I typically haven’t ventured far and explore Billings yet. I’ve been dealing with unfinished business in Helena every weekend these last 3 months. I got there and the office was CLOSED at 4:30.That’s the govt for you! I was dressed in a black business suit, white tuxedo shirt with my rhinestone bollo tie and heels. Not your typical western attire here. I will have to leave work an hour early on Thursday to get there to try to talk with someone to answer a few questions.Gives me a chance to update my personal business card with my new address. I doubt they will expect an Advanced Certified Paralegal in Land Use to show up at their door. I’m sure my registered mail won’t be forwarded to me as I also sent a comment concerning the EA. I’m planning to go to the Pryors in a couple of weekends for a quick weekend trip and then spend an extended Labor Day weekend up there. I will be taking lots of pictures of the horses that are to be removed in order to preserve and treasure them.

      Liked by 1 person


      On Sunday November 22nd, as on the previous Friday (as reported in the Denver Post and 5280 Denver’s Magazine), a plane and banner message critical of Secretary Salazar will be flying over Denver, prior to the Denver Broncos game.
      Frustrated and angry over continued Wild Horse round-ups, the message sponsors are working toward a conversation on the real issues on our public lands discussed in this press release.


  5. Federal protections sought for mustangs in Montana mountains
    By Matthew Brown The Associated Press

    Updated: April 05, 2018
    Billings, Montana

    Animal rights advocates announced a lawsuit against the federal government on Wednesday in a bid to make a Montana mustang population the first group of wild horses to be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

    Attorneys for Friends of Animals argued in the lawsuit that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated federal law by failing to act on a petition filed last June seeking protections for the animals. The petition was rejected on a technicality because the group submitted it to the federal agency without first notifying Montana officials as was required.
    The Connecticut-based advocacy group said that requirement violates federal law. It asked U.S. District Judge Susan Watters to force federal officials to act on the petition within 60 days.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Just received a registered letter and supporting documentation from DOI, BLM Billings MT as to why they’re rounding up all these beautiful horses. Same old, same old reasons emphasizing that PL 92-195 says that the Secretary of Interior shall determine appropriate mgmt levels of wild free roaming horses and burros on public lands and whether they are to be removed or sterilized…. Thanks Trump for picking Zinke.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m thinking that I also got a registered letter yesterday – wasnt home so mailman will bring it back today. Honestly, dont see the point of the BLM/DOI going to that expense just to tell us we dont have a voice!
      On another subject – I know most here are aware of Chilly Pepper Miracle Mustang Rescue – they were involved with the ISPMB rescue of 7-800 horses a couple years ago – spent most of the winter up there (and it was a rough one) getting horses out of there & into a safe place. Things are really tough for them right now – its an extremely busy time getting foals (& sometimes adult horses) from kill pens & giving them the care they need & finding homes for them. Palomino is having a really hard time physically doing what has to be done (has had multiple surgeries on her leg-using a cane or wheelchair now). If anyone or anyone you all know, has a question as to where to donate – this would be the place! I’m sure they could use experienced volunteer help too. But I’m guessing thats hard to come by. Really wish I was younger & closer – but that isnt the case.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a horror show, once again!! Insanity at it’s best. The government & the BLM are taking this opportunity to get rid of the precious ones. The public focus is on Agolf Trump, (aka Hitler & his henchmen), which takes the focus away from the issues at hand with the wild horses & burros. Thank you to everyone who responded here. Keep posting to give us the faith & courage to fight against “Big Brother” (our government.)
    They think that we will just stand back & not speak up for them. WRONG!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, where the public is focused IS a big problem – prevents the important messages from getting out there! Any time something actually of importance comes up – more tweets (or twits, as the case may be) and the media cannot stay away! I do wonder that if it were possible for the “media” to just focus on the actual real important subjects, such as climate change, or the pollution of our air & water, the slaughtering & eradication of our wildlife and loss of the natural world – maybe the unimportant petty things would shrivel up & blow away! (I know – not going to happen)
      I think our government is beginning to realize we arent standing back & waiting anymore!!! Which is a good thing!

      Liked by 1 person

      • What are we doing anyway….?? i feel helpless How can we stop the round ups // Is it money for lawsuits or what / Please explain


  8. Our National treasure, the Treasure being thrown away. The Horse is a sacred animal. All who seek to harm these precious lives that made the American Nation are fools.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “In the Senate Committee report accompanying the bill that became law the Senate noted, “The committee wishes to emphasize that the management of the wild free-roaming horses and burros be kept to a minimum both from the aspect of reducing costs of such a program as well as to deter the possibility of ‘zoo like’ developments.” S. Rep. 92-242, 92nd Cong., 1st Sess. 1971 at 2152. “AN INTENSIVE MANAGEMENT PROGRAM OF BREEDING, branding, and physical care would DESTROY the very concept that this legislation seeks to preserve . . . leaving the animals alone to fend for themselves and placing primary emphasis on protecting the animals from continued slaughter and harassment by man.”


  10. Why was there a hearing if none of the suggestions were adopted? Must we eradicate this beautiful mustang herd or can we save it for future generations?

    Liked by 1 person


    This Is Not A Democracy

    November 11, 2008

    Comments to the BLM Wild Horse Advisory Board

    I have respectfully submitted a series of questions in addition to my public comments on the situation to be addressed at the November 17, 2008 meeting. These are questions that directly relate to the discussion, and as a part owner of America’s federal lands, I would like addressed.

    Although to be quite candid, BLM District Manager Jim Sparks may have already answered most of these questions when he made a statement at a public hearing in Billings, Mt. in September of 2008. When asked why further gatherings were being planned despite the fact that copious amounts of objective information had been supplied that refuted any immediate need for further gatherings in addition to a vast majority of public comments that opposed such action, he stated and I quote:

    “This is not a Democracy”
    This is a direct quote from the BLM!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. For many Wild Horse & Burro advocates…”this is where the fight started”
    I think that NBC did show up at the roundup. Those who were there might have more information.

    While Cloud was running for his life, BLM employees were awash with double-time pay
    by R.T. Fitch
    September 2009

    Mustangate; Yet another chapter

    t was bad enough that the round up, conveniently, occurred while our elected representatives were in recess but the fact that the bulk of it took place across and over the Labor Day weekend adds even greater lack of transparency to the ill-conceived operation.

    Several minor talking points would be that large portions of Federal Recreation areas were closed off before, during and after one of the biggest holiday weekends of the year (not to forget that hunting season started only days earlier)

    Secondly, it was almost impossible to contact major news agencies, animal welfare advocates and law makers over the federal holiday and finally…drum roll please:
    The BLM agents were paid double-time on Labor Day and over-time on Sunday, the day before, and YOU the American public got to pick up the bill on this boondoggle.

    Liked by 1 person

Care to make a comment?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.