Save Cloud and His Wild Herd


http://www.pbs. org/wnet/ nature/episodes/ cloud-wild- stallion- of-the-rockies/ introduction/ 29/

http://www.pbs. org/wnet/ nature/uncategor ized/roundups- why-are-they- conducted/ 64/






Dear Friends of Cloud, his family and herd;


The BLM has issued the Draft Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP) and the Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) calling for a drastic population reduction that would take the herd down to an unsustainable level. The plan calls for just 90-120 adult horses one year and older to remain in their homeland.


The HMAP, if adopted, will dictate the management of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses for a minimum of  5-10 years. In reality, this current plan could be in effect for 20 years or more (the last HMAP amendment was signed in 1992). By that time the Pryor horses as we know them will be just a memory.


Removals of wild horses will concentrate on these groups in rank order:

1. Wild horses of any age that don%u2019t look Spanish. 

2. Wild horses that are no longer reproducing that have already contributed to the gene pool by successfully reproducing. Ironically, infertility drugs continue to be administered to older mares to keep them from reproducing. The BLM reason given for infertility application on these mares was to increase their life span. Now, BLM is saying there are %u201Ctoo many old horses%u201D and they must go. 

3. Wild horses under five years old.

4. Wild horses older than 11 years. (Cloud and Velvet and most of the band stallions and lead mares fall in this category.) 

5. Horses between 5-10 years of age. 

This list includes every wild horse currently living on the Pryors.  All are potential targets for removal. 

The BLM removals disregard the social structure and stability of the families on the mountain. Any horse could be removed regardless of the key roles they play as band stallions or lead mares. Most of these leaders have reproduced and are over 10 years of age, making them prime targets for removal. 

Why such a drastic plan? BLM claims that portions of the range are in a declining condition. They rely on two studies for this claim: the NRCS study conducted 2001-2002 during the worst drought in many decades; and a BLM assessment conducted in 2007. However, no raw data has been made available from the 2007 assessment to the public. And so, the public must take BLM conclusions at face value with no proof of current declining range conditions.  


It is hard to believe the BLM assessment considering the current conditions in Southern Montana and Northern Wyoming . I have never seen it greener. Long time local residents tell us that it has not looked as beautiful in decades. Many told us they have never seen the range looking this great.  

Now is the time to unite and speak out loud and clear on behalf of these beautiful animals and their spectacular homeland. We will not allow the BLM to ravage the herd as they have others in the West. Please tell all your friends to help us. Send this to your address book. Not just horse fans or Cloud fans but all people who value freedom and beauty should be concerned with this cruel and destructive plan.

Jared Bybee,
State Wild Horse and Burro Specialist
BLM-Billings Field Office,
5001 Southgate Drive
Billings, MT 59101

MT-U.S. Senator Max Baucus

511 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510

Mt-U.S. Senator Jon Tester

204 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510

BLM Director Jim Caswell

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne

BLM Draft HMAP and Preliminary EA June 2008

  1. Maintain a population of at least 150 adult horses (2 years and older). The proposed Animal Management Level of 90-120 (adult horses defined as one year and older) will result in a loss of genetic viability and the herd%u2019s unique Spanish markers.
  2. Some coat colors on the Pryors are already at risk of being lost: blue roan, true black, red dun, sorrel and sabino. Further reductions will make it harder for these colors to persist in the herd.  A narrowing color palette reflects the narrowing of the gene pool even at current population levels.
  3. This draft HMAP pays no attention to the importance of wild horse society and stability. It allows for the removal of band stallions and lead mares. These herd leaders are usually in over 10 category and have contributed to the gene pool by successfully reproducing as nature intended. And, the HMAP cruelly targets the oldest horses for removal, including ten stallions and mares over twenty. (click here for a picture gallery of these wonderful seniors.)
  4. The herd should be managed as naturally as possible, with limited removals. The current plan creates a sort of Pryor breeding farm on our public lands.
  5. The BLM should ask the appropriate wildlife agencies to eliminate or reduce mountain lion hunting in the Pryors to encourage a natural predator-prey balance.
  6. BLM should prioritize working with the Custer National Forest to expand the horse range to include historical horse use areas. The Custer National Forest lands are important year-round habitat and expansion would reduce pressure on the designated horse range and allow for a genetically viable herd.
  7. The Wild Horse and Burro Act (WHB Act) was passed by Congress in 1971 to protect free roaming wild horses. The proposed rebuilding of the Forest Service boundary fence atop the mountain is designed to restrict the free roaming ability of the horses into their historic range. We oppose spending our tax dollars in this way.
  8. No wild horses should be removed this year based on the current horse market and poor economy. There are too many horses on the market and people are even giving away trained saddle horses. We are very concerned that these wild, untrained horses will not find good homes. The safest place for a wild horses is on the range, especially now.
  9. Under the Burn%u2019s amendment, which modified the WHB Act, older horses (over 10) are required to be sold rather than adopted out. This could %u201Cfast-track%u201D many of the Pryor horses to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico if they fall into the wrong hands. 
  10. Based on the WHB Act, no horses shall be removed when they do not pose a threat to themselves or their environment. The range is currently in excellent condition and such a large-scale removal is uncalled for. In the 14 years Ginger has been going to the Pryors, the range is currently in the best condition for this time of year that she has ever seen. Long time residents of the area have said that this is the best condition the range has ever been in. %u201CIt ain%u2019t ever gonna look better than this,%u201D said one life-long resident of Lovell, WY who is in his seventies.
  11. We oppose bringing in horses from other herd areas as a way to insure genetic viability- the herd should be managed at genetically viable levels so that augmentation is not necessary. And, the BLM proposal to bringing untitled Pryor horses back onto the range when genetic problems arise is not a realistic option.
  12. We support range improvements including reseeding with native species and the treatment of noxious weeds, but would like to see these efforts put in place before removals occur. After an appropriate period of time has elapsed to assess whether these improvements are working, then and only then should a discussion of removals or revising the AML upward be considered.


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