The following statement was sent out by Ginger Kathrens and
The Cloud Foundation
CLOUD ALERT - SAVE THE PRYOR HERD
February 6, 2008
Friends of Cloud and his herd:
In January we spent four wonderful days with the wild horses, even though we couldn't get close enough to many of them because of snow. We did see Cloud and his family from across Big Coulee looking grand in the snow. They were on an inaccessable island, rimmed by cliffs on three sides. When it started to snow, little Shadow, Cloud and Aztec's September foal, began racing around the junipers. We were thrilled to see that, at least so far, winter has not stolen her exuberance. She certainly has her father's personality.
From Tillet Ridge we also glassed across Big Coulee and spotted Flint up on Sykes Ridge with older bachelors. This compact grullo step-son of Cloud looked to be in great shape, but again, this was through spotting scopes. Down in the desert, Bolder was with his family and everyone looked great. We saw Shaman far up on Sykes ridge, so perhaps he has given up on winning his mares back from Cloud's dynamic, dark palomino son.
Since we've been back home in Colorado, it has been cold in the Pryors with high winds and a huge snowfall that left a foot of snow even in the desert lowlands. I imagine that by now Cloud and his family have dropped down off their island stronghold into an area with less snow.
Before we went up to track the horses, we had good meetings in Billings, Montana with staff from both Senators Baucus and Tester's offices who expressed interest in our cause since they had heard from so many of you!! Many thanks for helping raise awareness about the threats to Cloud and the Pryor Wild Horse Herd.
We also had a cordial meeting with BLM managers in Billings in which we discussed the future of the Pryor Herd. I felt we were setting the stage for a respectful and productive relationship between the Cloud Foundation and BLM. And then, just one month later, we received the AP newspaper article which is attached. (see below)
In this article, BLM indicates that they plan to drastically reduce the herd to only 92 animals. We were totally blindsided by this announcement. What this means is that the herd would be reduced to non-sustainable levels, far below the minimum 150 to maintain their genetic viability.
What this also means is that by this fall, 80 horses could lose their freedom and their families, including Cloud and his band.
In our meeting, BLM told us there are "too many old horses" on the range. What an irony! Infertility drugs were first given to mares over 13 years of age for "humanitarian reasons" and to "extend the lives" of older mares. Now, these very mares might be removed from their home, losing everything they have long held dear - their families and their freedom.
It is quite true that the Pryor horses do live a long-time, even longer than when I first came on the scene in 1994. It is not unusual for a mare or a stallion to live into their 20s. One former band stallion (my horse Trace's grandfather) lived to be nearly 27. Obviously, the Pryor horses are still genetically strong and the range is healthy or the horses would not be living longer than they did 14 years ago. And the huge surviving foal crop of 2007 (34 foals which is the largest since 1981) is a testament to the health and vigor of the horses.
However, the over-hunting of mountain lions has created an unbalanced predator-prey relationship. That is why we are asking that the Pryor Mountains be closed to mountain lion hunting to try to promote a natural balance, allowing nature to call the shots, not humans.
This is the situation in a nutshell and we desperately need everyone to speak loud and clear....and repeatedly to see if BLM will listen and respond to our wishes for our horses on our public lands.
Here is what you can do to make a difference. E-mail the following people:
Go to: http://www.doi.gov/ click on contact us to reach Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne
BLM Director Jim Caswell: James_Caswell@blm.gov
Field Manager Jim Sparks: Jim_Sparks@blm.gov
Wild Horse Specialist Jared Bybee: Jared_Bybee@blm.gov
Go to: http://www.baucus.senate.gov/ click on contact us, choose environment, to contact Senator Baucus
Go to: http://www.tester.senate.gov/ click on contact us, choose environment to contact Senator Tester
Please tell all these decision makers in your own words that:
- You do not approve of such a drastic removal, especially any removal of older horses.
- Horses over 10 years of age could be sold to slaughter as these older animals are no longer protected due to the passage of the Burns Rider that weakened the Wild Horse and Burro Act.
- The removal of any lead mares and band stallions will destroy the social fabric of the bands.
- The adoption demand for older horses is non-existent.
- The genetic viability of the herd will be damaged, perhaps irreparably.
- The BLM is charged with managing for a self-sustaining populaton and this violates their mandate.
- The Pryor Wild Horse herd is a unique Spanish herd.
- Instead of this horrible plan, BLM should work to expand the range and focus tax dollars on range improvement.
- BLM should work with Montana Fish, Game, and Parks to stop the killing of mountain lions in the Pryors.
- And BLM should start paying attention to the public! Please don't destroy Cloud's herd!
Thanks so much for all your support and your involvement. It is so vital to the future survival of these wonderful animals.
Volunteer Executive Director
The Cloud Foundation
Click Here to read the February 4, 2008 Associated Press article, BLM Recommends Reducing Wild Horse Herd.
Click Here to read Gingers comments and submission to the BLM Billings Montana Field Office about their management of the Pryor Wild Horse Herds just one month ago. (Note: Comments shown before were of an older evaluation.)
Click Here to sign up for the Cloud Foundations Email List to receive the very latest news on Cloud and his family and the Pryor Wild Horse Herds.