I have seen discussion and talked to many of you regarding the newly released gather plan that will lead to the removal of a number of younger Pryor Mountain Wild Horses this summer. Obviously, there are a lot of feelings that emerge about such an action. Gathers are always difficult. This especially holds true here, in the Pryors, when we get to know individual horses as well as friends.
That said, I do believe that this gather must happen based on my interpretation of a series of events that have unfolded in recent years. In 2008, an oft-forgotten gather plan was released. Taking place just two years after a small bait-trap gather, this plan was quite similar to both the 2006 and 2012 ones in strategy and in magnitude. However, due to certain circumstances, the gather was unable to proceed. As should be expected, the herd grew in size; and just over a year later, a new and much more known gather plan was released. In 2009, gather operations were carried out with a helicopter and professional crew; and, in the end, more horses were removed than had been in any year since the modern Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range was finalized in 1971. Right now, the herd is in a situation very similar to that of 2008. Though we are only a few years removed from the last gather, the herd has again grown in size. This year is essentially the last opportunity for a less intrusive bait-trapping operation; by next year, the size of the herd and the need for a gather would be such that a helicopter gather would be the only feasible option. If this gather were to be stopped, I am absolutely certain that a helicopter gather comparable to that of 2009 will occur. There is no reason that this should happen.