Horse News

Wild Horse Advocates ask Judge to Stop Roundup of Montana Herd

Source: Multiple

“I have known each of these horses since they were tiny foals…I know all of their names,”

Pryor Mountain Stallions ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Wildlife advocates on Wednesday asked a federal judge in Montana to stop a planned mustang roundup they argue would destroy the genetic viability of a herd descended from the mounts of Spanish conquistadors.

The Bureau of Land Management beginning Sunday intends to remove 17 of the roughly 150 horses on the 59-square mile (154-square kilometer) Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range along the Montana-Wyoming border.

A lawsuit filed in federal court by Colorado filmmaker Ginger Kathrens and the Cloud Foundation, an advocacy group, said removing the horses would eliminate some of the Pryor herd’s unique genetic qualities, by eliminating animals with rare or unusual color patterns.

“I have known each of these horses since they were tiny foals…I know all of their names,” Kathrens said in an affidavit. “Their removal would be devastating.”

U.S. District Judge Susan Watters did not immediately rule on a request to temporarily halt the roundup.

The 17 horses would be baited into corrals with food and water and later put up for adoption.

Officials have maintained for years that the Pryor herd is too large for the arid, sparsely-vegetated range and have been overgrazing areas.

Delaying the roundup would lead to increased costs and, because of breeding, an even bigger problem for the range’s managers next year, said BLM wild horse specialist Jerrie Bertola.

If the population gets much larger, Bertola said, there’s more likelihood of fighting between animals and would be greater competition for forage, which could lead to some animals dying.

Created in 1968, the Pryor range was the second horse preserve in the nation. It was formed at a time when the capture and slaughter of wild horses for profit faced rising criticism, culminating three years later in the federal Wild and Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act.

17 replies »

  1. I’m not familiar with this area of Montana, but why doesn’t the BLM increase their range land? Last night I saw an interesting program highlighting preserving grasslands in Montana. I can’t remember the name of the organization but their mission is to create the largest preserved grassland area in the United States and restore it to what it was when Lewis and Clark made their trek to the Pacific Ocean. They are buying up large ranches that border the already set aside land. However there is controversary from ranchers who don’t want their land to be used for this purpose because their thought is they are the caretakers of their land and they make it better than it ever was and God has given them this purpose (Hmmmm)
    They said that 10,000 acres of grassland across the world are developed (not sure the time frame) but this area in Montana is only 1 of 4 areas in the world that is being preserved! Development over grasslands is dangerous for our world as it acts as a sponge that absorbs water. They gave the Houston metroplex as an example of what can happen when everything is concrete. Thousands of grassland praire has been concreted over which was detrimental in last year’s Hurricane Harvey’s devastation. They said it is only going to get worse as we concrete our land.
    It would be interesting if this non-profit would incorporate wild horses on their grasslands as they have with buffalo, pronghorn etc….

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have good questions and to answer would require many days/weeks/months but to help you understand I highly suggest you go back on this blog and read (or at least quickly scan through) the articles and especially the “white paper” and “Truths” that were published last year. I hope that helps you to understand.


  2. It’s not believable that bait trapping costs would be any higher next year than this year, and it’s also biological truth that whatever mares will foal next year are already pregnant, so any population increase is already in the works. In other words, the annual breeding season is about over now already.

    The “specialist’s” comment about increased fighting, reduced forage and the possibility of some horses dying ring hollow as well, as in recent years the USFS has fenced off significant portions of the traditional range these horses relied upon. And though harsh, natural selection pressures are what the original management was intended to be for all our wild horses, as the law clearly spelled out “minimal feasible” levels were to be used.

    This herd in particular has a worldwiide following, and therefore presents a terrific opportunity for the BLM to collaborate with the public to select and humanely remove ONLY those whose genes are already well represented. It’s also well published that the genetics of this particular small herd are already under threat of losing viability due to limited population size (just barely viable per Dr. Gus Cothran).

    It makes no sense to remove horses randomly at this time when winter will surely kill some off (especially foals) and more intelligent management is not only possible, but has public support. With thousands of horses already being warehoused from recent roundups, and the recent and sudden BLM policy change to allow people to buy truckloads of captive horses — no questions asked and no limits evidently — any horses removed now have little chance of any sort of promising future.

    Let’s not victimize innocent creatures whose stewardship we inherited, and whose lasting survival as wild animals is our responsibility. We can surely do better by them, and by ourselves, and must.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It would appear that there is a strong legal argument that could put a stop to this

    From PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility)

    All Decisions by Acting Park Service, BLM, and Fish & Wildlife Heads LEGALLY VOID

    There’s not even an “Acting” Director of the Bureau of Land Management: Brian Steed is just “Exercising Authority of the Director”
    From STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S HEART/ August 11, 2018

    The Bureau of Land Management doesn’t have a Director or an Acting Director. Brian Steed is the Deputy Director, Policy & Programs, but he is “Exercising Authority of the Director.” There are 8 “Acting” Directors under him.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Judge Rosemary M. Conyers

    IV. CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that the 2008 Gather Plan was “in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory right.” 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(C). 20 A prerequisite to removal under the Wild Horse Act is that BLM first determine that an overpopulation exists and that the wild free-roaming horses and burros slated for removal are “excess animals.”

    Click to access JudgeCollyerAugust5-2009Opinion.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Currently, the Pryor Herd is at the same population level as after the 2015 removal—152. That means there has been no population change in the last 3 yrs, so BLM could easily delay another month or two or even a year rather than hurrying up to meet “vacation” schedules. Despite the facts on population, BLM claims that the population is increasing by 8% annually. This is not true.
    The Cloud Foundation

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I find it ironic that the BLM is ” worried about the horses dying ” when so many of the horses & foals die in those hideous roundups or soon after .
    AS YOU CALL THE BLM in BIllings you will get the same canned answers that are supposed to appease the public . ” Theyll go to good homes we make sure ” ” there really is too many ” ” there are no cattle ,oil, or mining companies coming there ” ” no ranchers are allowed to take place in roundups ”
    The lady at the Billings BLM office, Jerry Said they don’t register any of our phone calls there &yet the BLM in Utah swears they do. She went on to say the horses would b shipped to a containment center which I’m not clear where that is .
    Afterward they’d be shipped somewhere else due to the weather but she was not sure where . How would we know those horses will be safe ? She didn’t know
    Was there a formal public Hearing ?Not sure
    When a discussion was brought up about how deadly and cruel the Helicopter Roundups were. At other HMAs she said ” that doesn’t happen , the photos are photo shopped. ” Get real !
    This is the information the BLM is giving people
    I encourage anyone when talking to the BLM to delve farther into their answers
    When you ask a question , So often They can’t answer or come up with some erroneous reply.
    Ad far as the Proposed roundupon Sept 2 I am praying there can be a moratorium . The BLM worries it will cost more to delay the roundup . Do they ever care about cost ?
    They create their own financial dilemmas but in the end we taxpayers pay for their mistakes and screwups.
    This herd is an historical herd that people have reverred for decades , They are descendents from the Spaniards horses .
    They are unique and irreplaceable . once gone they are gone forever .
    I have a sister. In Montana that had the great opportunity to see 3 of the Pryor herd wild horses while she was riding in,the area .
    She was amazed how they all deficated in same area and with their unshod hooves were able to keep way ahead of their own shod horses.
    They are a stunning herd of horses , descendants of the Cloud generation and People even know them by name!
    They should not be taken out due to ranching , oil or mining cos.
    What if they were Registered with the historical society as Historical Horses ?
    Wouldn’t that be able to protect them ?
    God help us If we can’t save our Greatest American Treasures , our symbols of peace and freedom …our beautiful wild horses .
    Pray we can stop this !


    Liked by 1 person

    • So all the photos of roundups we see are “photo shopped”? I would imagine all those well-fed, healthy horses they are rounding up are “photo shopped” too! And the pictures of the cows standing around a water source with every blade of grass gone? Those too?
      I think the BLM needs to change its stock answers – those dont work.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. YET another link that has “disappeared” from the BLM website

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Co. (Sept. 16, 2013) – For over thirty years, the genetics of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd have been tracked by foremost equine geneticist, E. Gus Cothran. His first revelations linking the herd to the horses of the Spanish Conquistadors and Old World Iberian Horses were cause for celebration among local supporters of the herd who long believed that the primitive physical appearance of some Pryor horses were indicators of their Spanish ancestry. Cothran also indicated in earlier reports that the genetic diversity of the herd was good.

    But Cothran’s newest report issued on August 22, 2013 reveals a herd at risk of losing genetic variability. Cothran states that “compared to past sampling of this herd, variability levels for all measures has been in decline.” He further states that the expression of the Spanish heritage is “stronger than seen recently,” but we could be seeing “the very beginning of evidence of inbreeding.”

    Click to access Pryor_MNTS%202012%20Genetic%20Report.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

    • Louie, bring up that link & put Resource Note No. 27 in the search space – that will bring up one part of Gus Cochran’s report – I didnt continue to look for the rest – but maybe you can find it.

      Liked by 1 person


    (3) Avail yourself of options provided by Section 4 and 6 of the WFHAB in order to secure truly long-term-viable habitat for a truly long-term-viable wild horse population that is not subject to inbreeding and decline. Section 4 allows private landowners whose properties lie adjacent to the Pryor Mountain wild horse refuge to maintain wild, free-roaming horses on their private lands or on land leased from the government provided they protect them from harassment and have not willfully removed or enticed them from public lands. This is an outstanding opportunity for the public to help in preserving and protecting the wild horse herds at healthy population levels, i.e. to complement federal Herd Areas (BLM) and Territories (USFS). Section 6 of the WFHBA authorizes cooperative agreement with landowners and state and local governments to better accomplish the goals of the WFHBA. This allows for providing complete and unimpeded habitat for long-term viable wild horse populations. BLM should invoke Section 6 to establish cooperative agreements with both the National Parks Service (USDI, same as BLM) re: McCullough Peak national monument (which I believe already has such an agreement) and Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, as well as the Custer National Forest (USDA) in order to expand available habitat for the Pryor mustangs. As concerns the Custer National Forest, the USFS officials should not be allowed to get away with the fence they have erected and that restricts the wild horses’ traditional access to summer grazing meadows. This is on the west side of East Pryor Mountain and consists of a two-mile long buck and pole fence. This area was occupied by the wild horses in 1971 and should be a recognized legal area for them, as was documented by Dr. Ron Hall who did his study of the Pryor Mountain wild horses. It is also a prime public viewing area with great scenic visits, as I recall from my visit there in June of 2003. By erecting this fence, Custer National Forest officials defied their mandate to protect and preserve wild horses under the WFHAB; this is subject of an ongoing legal suit. BLM officials must insist this fence be taken down!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I hope these horses remain on our public lands and range forever. They are a vital part of our ecosystem. Wild horses reseed the grass lands naturally as it remains whole through their digestive tract. Please let them be and just use PZP when needed. Please and thank you. ❤️🙏



    Judge blocks Wyoming, Idaho grizzly hunts days before they were set to begin
    MATT VOLZ Associated Pres
    Aug 30, 2018

    MISSOULA, Mont. – A judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the opening of the first grizzly bear hunts in the Rocky Mountains in more than 40 years, as he considers whether the government was wrong to lift federal protections on the animals.
    U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen’s order came just two days before Idaho and Wyoming prepared to open the first grizzly bear hunting seasons in the Lower 48 states since 1974.
    The order will remain in effect 14 days.
    “The threat of death to individual bears posed by the scheduled hunts is sufficient” to justify a delay in the states’ hunting seasons, Christensen wrote in the order.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hopefully more judges will realize their job is to PREVENT our wildlife & its habitat from being eradicated in this manner. The scary thing is that the Pres has brought in many new federal judges – whether they do the right thing – that remains to be seen!

      Liked by 1 person

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