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Famous Mustangs Torn From Their Home
From The Cloud Foundation, September 3, 2009
In the searing 90-plus degree heat the Montana’s only wild horse herd, are driven into corrals by a helicopter, forcibly removed from the rangeland they have occupied for hundreds of years. The Pryor wild horses and one palomino stallion in particular, Cloud, have been made world famous by the PBS Nature documentaries, the
third of which will air this fall.
Despite public outcry over their reasons for this action, and clear failures in NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) compliance, BLM is moving forward with the controversial helicopter roundup expected to last 4-10 days. "This unique little herd is being destroyed starting now," says Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation.
"70 horses and some foals are to be removed from their spectacular home in the wild and this will leave us with a non-viable herd.”
Dr. Gus Cothran, Ph.D. of Texas A&M University said today that this roundup "is overkill.” Critics of the removal say that it is clear that the BLM is refusing to listen to science and the wishes of the American public.
Legal efforts are continuing, but have so far not stopped this action. A Temporary Restraining Order request by The Cloud Foundation and Front Range Equine Rescue was denied in Federal District Court on September 2. BLM has contracted with the federally indicted Dave Cattoor to round up America’s most famous wild horse herd.
Wild horse advocates and biologists say that by going against their own environmental assessment for this removal, BLM is ignoring the unique genetics of this herd. The agency plans to take off all the wild horses who live permanently in the Custer National Forest – from the 21-year-old mare known as Grumpy Grulla, to Conquistador, the 19-year-old band stallion as well as young foals. According to local residents and historians, the wild horses are simply living the way they lived before the BLM or Forest Service were even established. "Removing an entire subpopulation is not the way to manage a small, precious and unique population of animals," continues Kathrens. "People enjoy seeing the horses in the Custer National Forest and extensive evidence exists that these horses have been in this area for centuries. It is vitally important that this range be legally expanded to allow this herd to grow to safe, genetically viable numbers.”
The BLM claims that it is necessary to remove 70 horses in order to “maintain a thriving natural ecological balance.” Don Glenn, Chief of the Wild Horse and Burro Program has been dispatched to the Lovell, Wyoming area due to the controversy surrounding this
roundup, unprecedented in size and scope for the Pryor Wild Horse Mountain Range.
Glenn asserts that much of the forage in the Pryors is either poisonous or non-nutritious.
“If the range was that poor than why do we have fat 20+ year old horses who look like they are half that age?” asks Golde Wallingford, owner of a Pryor Mountain Mustang.
“The BLM is feeding the American public lies and it is time for them to stop,” she continues. Wallingford, who traveled to the Pryors to protest this roundup, noted that the range is still green in late August after three years of above average precipitation
following a multi-year drought.
“Why are they removing nearly half the horses after the drought is over?” asks Howard Boggess, Crow Elder and Historian.
“Everything that is against the law for me they are planning to do to these horses.
The American public is enamored with the mustang, one of the last symbols of freedom and the disappearing spirit of the American West. "We are losing our wild horses on our public lands as a rogue government agency is left unchecked. Our government has promised it will listen to us. The public is crying out for these wild horses and their voices are getting louder. We need our new administration to start listening American mustangs will go the way of the buffalo," Kathrens concludes.
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