September 2, 2009 – Answers to Questions

There’s been a few questions that have been brought up here lately, so I will just answer them here.

Question: 4720.1 Removal of excess animals…..does this mean that all old sick or lame animals will de destroyed. (e) remaining excess animals for which no adoption demand by qualified individuals exist shall be destroyed in accordance with subpart 4730 of this part. ( any older animal not adopted will be destroyed?) Please explain this section. Does this mean any older horse not adopted will be destroyed rather than returned to the range?

First off, let’s address what would happen to and sick or injured animals that could possibly be gathered. According to the Standard Operating Procedures (Appendix II in the 2009 Gather EA starting on page 47), “The Contractor shall restrain sick or injured animals if treatment is necessary. The COR/PI (Contracting Officer’s Representative/Project Inspector) will determine if injured animals must be destroyed and provide for destruction of such animals. The Contractor may be required to humanely euthanize animals in the field and to dispose of the carcasses as directed by the COR/PI.” This quote is from Section i. starting on page 48 of the 2009 Gather EA. There’s no way to sugar-coat this – It is definitely possible that sick or injured animals that are gathered could be put down. Let’s just give the horses all of our thoughts and prayers so that this doesn’t happen.

Second off, what happens to the horses that don’t get adopted? According to the BLM’s “Questions and Answers About the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd Gather” document, “Any horses not adopted or sold will transported to the BLM’s Elm Creek, Nebraska, holding facility where they will be rested before being sent to another adoption event or to long-term holding, as appropriate.” According to a BLM web site (click here for it), “The primary role of the Elm Creek Center is to provide wild horses and burros a resting location on their way to adoption homes in the Midwest to the East Coast. The Elm Creek Center supports the National, Eastern States and Nebraska regions by providing healthy wild horses and burros for their adoptions.” Let’s hope that between the adoption event here and future adoption events at which Pryor horses are present, each and every one of them can find a good home. If you are interested in adopting a Pryor horse, please visit the National Wild Horse Adoption Day web site to learn more. Also, to me it sounds like any horses not adopted here will be traveling to the Midwest and the East; and so this would be a good opportunity for interested adopters in these more distant locations to give a Pryor horse a good home.

Question: Just how many acres are accessible to the Pryor Mt.horses? Are cattle allowed in this area?

At this time, the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range is about 38,000 acres in area. This many acres is equal to just over 59 square miles. As I’ve mentioned in previous writings, not all 38,000 acres has plentiful resources; and the herd isn’t necessarily using all 38,000 acres of the PMWHR at this time. As for livestock grazing in the Pryors, there really isn’t any. Certain ranchers are allowed to trail their cattle through a part of the PMWHR that is mostly in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. As I’ve posted in previous writings, livestock sometimes drifts into the PMWHR. Beyond this, no cattle are allowed to graze within the PMWHR.

Question: What I have trouble with is the means in which the BLM undertakes these gathers–helicopters, long-distance stressful herding of young foals, etc. Wouldn’t carefully pinpointed bait traps up on the mtn. be a better way to get the desired horses and let the others loose? The proposed BLM method just seems like a lot of trauma, drama, and expense to accomplish the same purpose.

Bait-trapping is definitely a method of gathering horses that can have less potential for risk than helicopter gathers. From the upper meadows, where many horses currently are, to Britton Springs, it is approximately 13 miles over an approximate elevation change of 4000 feet. This is also very rugged country. The 2009 Gather EA discusses how helicopters will be used to move horses to Britton Springs or to “temporary traps of portable panels.” From what I understand, these traps will be set up in areas that are far from Britton Springs. The horses will be moved short distances by the helicopter to these traps. At this point, horses that are scheduled to be removed will be transported to Britton Springs similar to the 2006 gather. Other horses will have samples for genetic analysis taken, and fertility control will be applied here as appropriate. After that, these horses can be let go. The EA states that “treated mares and stallions identified for retention would be released either, during, or after gather operations.” All of this can be found on page 10 of the document. I also noticed the word “expense” in this question. In a recent Billings Gazette article, it is stated that it is costing $7000 a day to pay the contractor while they wait to start their operations. But back to the gather methods, I am hoping that horses that are in areas that from which Britton Springs is geographically difficult to reach can be gathered with these temporary traps and then transported to Britton Springs.

I hope that these answers work well in answering the great questions that have been asked. I have provided quotes from BLM documents, and I have done by best to give some of my thoughts on these. Please let me know if there are any other questions you’d like answered!

Published in: on September 2, 2009 at 9:54 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. Matt, I can’t help wondering about something. Is the BLM not allowing ANY concerned observers, like you, your father, or other members of the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Assoc., to be present during these manuevers? If they are doing their best to accomplish this with as much regard for the horses as possible, I would think they would want a few witnesses to the fact that they are going by the rules set forth for the animals’ treatment.
    Thanks. Linda

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