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BLM Capture of Iconic Wild Horse Herd Sparks Controversy
[To take action, go to Freedom Interrupted - Cloud's Herd Caught In BLM Roundup]
From The Cloud Foundation, September 2009
Senator Landrieu, Congressman Grijalva Join Public in Calling for an Immediate End to the Mismanagement of the West’s Living Legends
Once wild and free, living in spectacular sub-alpine meadows designated by Congress as their home, 57 wild Mustangs now wait in dusty pens in the 90 degree heat. The BLM pens sit at the base of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range of Wyoming and Montana. The corrals offer no shade for the wild horses, now branded, with ropes and numbers around their necks. 19 year-old Conquistador is no longer a proud band stallion. He is number 5336. 21 year-old Grumpy Grulla is no longer a lead mare. She is number 5321.
The Pryor Mountain wild horses have been made world famous by the popular PBS Nature series that has followed the pale Palomino Stallion “Cloud,” throughout his lifetime. The third program will air this Fall in October, but many of the horses the world will meet next month are among those being put up for sale and adoption at the Britton Springs corrals in Lovell, WY on Sept. 26th. “They are losing what they value most – their freedom and their families,” says Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation.
“Despite a National outcry and letters from Congress demanding that the BLM halt these roundups until an acceptable long-term plan is made, we have yet to see them make a single concession to an outraged public. Somewhere along the line BLM forgot that these are the public’s horses on the public’s land.” Kathrens continues.
Great hopes for change lie in the Restore Our American Mustang Act (ROAM- §1579), now in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Advocates are planning a gathering, “Mustangs on the Hill,” in Washington D.C. on September 29th. Supporters of preserving our wild herds will fan out and meet with key Senate staffers and Senators. “The ROAM Act comes too late for thousands of horses, but we are hopeful that Congress can ride to the rescue for our wild horses,” states Arizona advocate, Julianne French. The Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 saved wild horses in the American West from complete destruction. Since then, the BLM, charged with their protection, has failed to follow the Act. Nearly 20 million acres have been taken away from the dedicated land set aside for America’s wild horses. Over 30,000 wild horses are held by the BLM at a cost of over $100,000 per day according to Ed Roberson, Department of Interior official. Advocates are demanding that the wild horses be returned to the rangelands that were stolen from them. Congressman Grijalva (D-AZ) called for a stop to all roundups and Senator Landrieu (D-LA) recently called for the management of wild horses to be taken away from the BLM altogether.
The American public is enamored with the mustang, one of the last symbols of freedom and the disappearing spirit of the American West. "Isn’t it time that the public finds out the truth, that this gross misconduct is not a result of managing for ‘healthy horses on healthy rangelands, but is an all out eradication of America’s wild horses?” questions advocate Monika Courtney. “Will hoof beats be replaced completely by oil and gas rigs and uranium mines as the old-guard BLM regime carries forth? BLM is betraying not only our horses, but our nation.” As one advocate stated, “The West will one day be about as wild as Wal-Mart.”
The small Spanish mustangs in the Pryor herd, descendents of the Lewis and Clark expedition horses and the original Crow war ponies, may not be aware that their highly contested roundup and subsequent removal has created a wave a protest from Thoroughbred racing forums to front porches in South Texas. “A whole new group of advocates concerned about our wild horses have come out against this roundup,” states Willis Lamm, a horse trainer noted for his work with BLM mustangs. “Moving forward with this roundup was a huge mistake on the part of the BLM.”
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