Tuesday, September 1, 2009



BILLINGS, MONTANA- AUGUST 31, 2009: The Pryor Mountain Wild Horses, perhaps best known from the popular Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies PBS Nature series, have two more days of freedom before an unprecedented round up could begin. The Pryors roundup has been delayed for two days to allow Judge Sullivan of the Federal District Court to hear the case brought against the BLM by The Cloud Foundation and Front Range Equine Rescue.

The Bureau of Land Management, responsible for managing wild horses on public lands in the United States, plans to round up all the horses in Montana’s only remaining wild herd and remove 70 horses plus four or more foals. This will leave a non-viable herd of only 120 horses according to respected equine geneticist, Gus Cothran, Ph.D., of Texas A&M University. The Pryor Mountain wild horses are a unique Spanish herd renowned for their primitive markings, historical connections, and spectacular habitat.

BLM is dispatching National Wild Horse and Burro Program staff for this round up, perhaps because they expect trouble from humane advocates who are currently being prevented from observing this roundup. “Never before in my experience have plans been so vague and operations so secret in the Pryors,” says Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation.” The BLM will be closing down roads to the mountain top where the majority of the herd spends their days grazing peacefully in their subalpine meadows. Young foals, only days old will be driven by helicopters and are in serious danger of being hurt or killed. Billings BLM Field Manager Jim Sparks told one advocate that they would expect a loss of 2% or six horses as a result of this operation.

The BLM has always had signs posted at the entrances to the horse range that tell the public to ‘report violations of harassment, death or removals.’ “Why are they above the law?” Asks Crow Tribe Historian and Elder, Howard Boggess. “Everything that is against the law for me they are planning to do to these horses. This is a very sad thing as far as I’m concerned. The horses have lived here for over 200 years. Even under the harassment of the BLM they’ve survived since 1971.”

The BLM claims that it is necessary to remove 70 horses in order to “maintain a thriving ecological balance.” However, the range is still green in late August following three years of above average precipitation after a multi-year drought. The horses are fat, preparing to go into winter. “Why are they removing nearly half the horses after the drought is over? I’ve told them [the BLM] if you take these 70 horses you’ve destroyed the bloodline, the gene pool will no longer be there,” continues Boggess. “Their whole goal is to get rid of the horses.”

“What they are proposing to do is criminal— people locally and all across the Nation worked so hard to save these horses from eradication in 1968,” explains Kathrens. “This range was specially designated for wild horses, the first of its kind in the nation. This is their refuge and it is about to be invaded.”

The BLM plans to remove 17 horses over ten years old and by BLM’s Standard Operating Procedures, “old, sick or lame horses shall be destroyed.” “When they take out the old horses they remove the ones that know the way to the water, the good grass, the way around the canyon - they’re taking out all of the knowledge of the herd,” Boggess explains. “It is really sad to sit there and look at the horses and think that in the next ten days they’ll be taken off this range and they’ll never see it again.”

This case is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, September 2nd, and thousands of people around the United States and the world await the decision of Judge Sullivan which will decide the fate of the unique and beloved Pryor Wild Horse Herd.

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My Best Bud Dakota

My Best Bud Dakota