Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Action Alert: Your Help Needed to Protect the Pryor Mustangs

BLM Sets Sights on Cloud's Herd Once Again
Dear Cloud and Pryor Wild Horse Defenders;

The BLM is proposing another significant removal of wild horses on the Pryor Mountains. I know. Just when you thought it was safe... they’re back!

BLM’s recently released Environmental Assessment (EA) seeks to remove via bait trapping and potentially water trapping, 30 young Pryor mustangs, ages 1-3 years. Bait and/or water trapping could begin as early as mid-January. Comments are due by January 6, 2012. We urge you to comment and to support the NO Action Alternative, the only alternative that keeps a viable population of horses on the mountain.

Cloud's yearling daughter, Breeze, is just one of the
horses that could be removed in 2012

Here are the points we feel you may want to mention in your remarks. Make sure to use your own words.
  1. Making decisions on a 30 horse removal now could put the Pryor Wild Horse Herd in jeopary of a die-off. Natural mortality in the winter of 2011-2012 is an unknown. The number of foals to be born and survive in 2012 is also unknown.
  2. The population of the Pryor Wild Horse Herd is currently stable with only 150 animals one year of age or older. According to Gus Cothran, PhD, the foremost equine geneticist in the U.S., "A census population size of 150-200 is required to achieve the minimum effective population size (usually 1/4 to 1/3 of the of the total population)." Currently, the Pryor population is at this bare minimum level.
  3. In 2011 there was no population growth. Births equaled deaths—18 births versus 18 deaths.
  4. Removing 30 young horses in one year alone is risky, unnecessary and threatens the genetic viability of the herd, diminishing their ability to survive into the future.
  5. We urge BLM to wait and see what winter brings as far as mortality, and what the foal crop looks like in August of 2012. Late summer would be the time to assess herd growth and health as well as range health and decide on whether removals are really necessary.
  6. No details have been provided in this EA regarding the disposition of young horses once they are caught, other than their transport to the Britton Springs corrals at the base of the mountain. What then? Where and when would the young horses be available for adoption? These details need to be revealed to the public.
  7. There are no criteria cited which ensure that young horses with narrow genetic representation in the herd, unique or underrepresented colors and markings, and rigorous physical characteristics (i.e. size, health) would be retained on the range. Consideration must be given to these removal criteria to ensure that the "best" are left on the range in order for the herd to perpetuate itself into the future.
  8. Urge BLM to adopt the No Action Alternative.

Jasper (left) is the only male descendant of the stallion Starman, while Jewel (right) is a unique pale buckskin.
Both could be removed in 2012.

We are encouraging you to speak up on behalf of this small, isolated, genetically unique, world-famous herd. BLM will not accept emailed comments but feel free to send your comments via email to info@thecloudfoundation.org and please put in the subject line, "Pryor EA comments." We will print out your emails and mail them with our Foundation comments. Or you can send your letters directly to: 

Jim Sparks
Field Manager
BLM Billings Field Office
5001 Southgate Drive
Billings, MT 59101


Cloud's grandson, Echo, represents both unique coloration and rare bloodlines
being one of the only descendants of the late stallion, Mateo.

Thanks for speaking out to ensure that the Pryor herd and Cloud’s family line will continue into the future! Stay tuned for an update on our latest visit.

Happy Trails!
Ginger

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