From the Cloud Foundation
LOVELL, WY- August 28, 2009: In response to the destructive removal planned for America’s most famous wild horse herd, the Cloud Foundation and Front Range Equine Rescue have filed a lawsuit and a request for an injunction in Federal Court in Washington, DC. The Pryor Herd gained worldwide fame largely due to the popular PBS NATURE Documentaries about the Pryor Stallion, Cloud. The appellants’ aim is to prohibit the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from rounding up all the horses in the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range and removing 70. This roundup, unprecedented in size and scope, is slated to begin September 1, 2009 according to the recently released BLM Decision Record. This would be the largest removal in the 32-year history of this specially designated wild horse range. The helicopter drive-trapping operation would be shrouded in a cloak of secrecy as BLM proposes to close the entire public lands area to humane observers and the general public except “on a case by case basis”.
Advocates in this case argue that the removal of 70 horses will leave this unique and historical herd genetically non-viable and unable to sustain themselves into the future. According to noted equine geneticist, Gus Cothran, Ph.D. of Texas A&M University, “… a census population of 150-200 is required to achieve the minimum effective population size…. The [Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd] has been one of the most important and visible herds within the BLM Wild Horse Program and it is important that it stays viable.”
BLM is circumventing Congress’ wishes that wild horses be protected in the American West. The House just passed the Restore Our American Mustangs (ROAM) act and the Senate will review this bill (now S.1579) when they return from recess in September. “Is BLM just trying to do as much irrevocable damage to America's wild horses as fast as they can before the Senate can act?” asks Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation.
“Right now there are twelve entire herds being eliminated from 1.4 million acres in Eastern Nevada because these lands are suddenly not appropriate for wild horses,” Kathrens continues. “However, no action has been made to reduce cattle grazing in these areas.” There are no grazing permits in the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range and reasons for holding an unprecedented removal this year are not clear. The range and adjacent lands are in excellent condition following three years of drought-breaking precipitation.
Cloud and the wild horses of Montana’s Pryor Mountains are world famous but fame and an outcry from the American public does not seem to impact BLM plans. There are currently only 190 wild horses (one year and older) living in the spectacular Pryor Mountains. In order to remove 70 the BLM must take older horses who could be sold directly to killer buyers or destroyed on the spot according to their codes of federal regulation.
The Pryor Mountain wild horses are descendants of the Lewis and Clark horses who were stolen by the Crow Indians in the early 1800's. George Reed, Secretary of Cultural Education for the Crow Tribe Executive Branch, wrote in 2006: “We advocate preserving our heritage, culture and language, and these Pryor wild horses are part of our culture.” Lakota and Northern Cheyenne Tribal Leaders will gather in response to the BLM’s destructive actions on Saturday, August 29th. This ride “Honoring Freedom: The Ride to Save America’s Wild Horses” will start in the lowlands and culminate in ceremonies at the Dryhead Overlook atop the mountain.
BLM Director Bob Abbey has had his office reroute calls to the BLM hotline due to the number of complaints he’s received on this issue. “Nothing has changed for the wild horses with this new administration” Kathrens says, “except it has gotten worse”.
For More Information contact:
The Cloud Foundation