November 18, 2009 – Fence Removal Project

I am very interested in and highly supportive of projects that improve the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. A while back, I found something that I thought was really in need of being done; there is a fence running through the PMWHR that I felt should be removed. Recall in my previous blog post about the evolution of the PMWHR that the original Range did not include any Forest Service land. The boundary back then basically looked like this:

Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range, 1968

Notice how the original boundary went right along that southeastern corner of the Forest Service (green) land. This was apparently fenced. Today, there is Forest Service land in the PMWHR.

Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range, 2009

Even though this area is in the PMWHR now, there are still portions of that fence from the original PMWHR boundary present along the BLM-Forest Service boundary. The fence in this area I am most concerned with is that section running along the east-west boundary line. This fence cuts through the Burnt Timber area, which is a very large area of the PMWHR. This is an area that is underutilized by the horses, and so it is an area where we’d like to see more horse use. The fence doesn’t totally split Burnt Timber into two areas; there are some areas, especially the canyons there, that the horses are able to get through the fence at. However, it would be a lot easier for the horses to move up and down the ridges of Burnt Timber if the fence wasn’t there.

I started talking with the BLM and Forest Service, and this summer the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center entered into a volunteer agreement with the two agencies to start removing the fence. Accessing the fence is pretty difficult, and I figure this is a big reason why the fence is still here today. However, we have figured out ways to best get to the fence and get it down; and my dad and I started this on November 11. There are two main ridges that the fence goes through that I’d like to see access opened up in; and we started with the west ridge, which is the bigger of the two. This is what the fence looked like before we started (feel free to click on the fence images to see larger versions of them):

After a few hours, though, we’d gotten the wire and a lot of posts out; and it looked like this:

In this first day of work, we were able to get almost 20% of the fence running through the west ridge opened up for the horses. We’ll just continue to do this, and pretty soon we’ll have it all opened up. In my blog post on AML, I asked the question of how AML can be raised. Making it easier for horses to live in underutilized areas is one way to do this. This is because it allows for a better distribution of the horses which can lead to better range conditions. I’ll discuss more specifics on living in this area in a future post.

It was fun to find some horses while we were out working on the fence. This is an area that sorrel roan stallion Tecumseh often spends time in this time of year.

Often I am just looking at them through a spotting scope, but it was nice being able to see them up close. Tecumseh’s foal, Jacinta, surprised me. When she was first born, she was looking like a bay to us.

We thought she might end up looking kind of like her dam Rosebud.

Even in September, we were still describing Jacinta as a bay.

Now, though, she is looking like she could end up being dun.

It’s interesting to see the progression of the colors of foals through their first couple years of life. It looks like Jacinta could turn out looking like her older half-sister Helenium.

Bay roan Beulah is the fifth member of Tecumseh’s harem.

Baja and his harem were nearby them, and I also found Lakota and Starman’s harems nearby. We have still been having very nice weather here, and so I’ve been able to spend some good time on the PMWHR seeing how the horses are. I look forward to going back out to work on the fence more so that the horses living in the Burnt Timber area have an easier time moving around in there this winter.

Published in: on November 18, 2009 at 4:55 pm  Comments (14)  

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14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you for removing that fence. I worried about it when we were there. LOVE your pictures.

  2. Matt, Wonderful! That looks like it will give them quite a bit of land to utilize. How much acreage do you estimate?
    The horses look in good condition. Is that Rosebud who is a little on the lean side? Any idea what her age is? I’m just curious how the “older” horses hold up. We just had to put down our 31 yr old and it was very difficult to keep weight on him through winter. We really had to push the feed. We’re in Idaho with a lot of snow too! Thanks for the good work you do.

    • It’s hard to estimate raw acreage for this as there are indirect ways in which the horses can and do access these areas. But this will make it a lot easier for the lands west of Burnt Timber Canyon to be better utilized. There is actually another area west of the area we’re working in, on the northwestern boundary of the PMWHR, that we’re curious about seeing more use in too. The canyon separating the fenced ridges from this other ridge complex is quite deep, but there would have had to have been horse use there in 1971 for the area to have been added to the PMWHR. Rosebud was born in 1992. She does look a little skinny this year, but they are living in a pretty grassy area with good shelter. The oldest horse on the range now is Beauty, she was born in 1987.

  3. Very good idea to remove this fence. Having done that kind of job before, I know it’s a very difficult work. Thanks.

    • It really is time consuming and sometimes frustrating pulling off the stays and rolling wire. Over time there has been a lot of internal fencing removed in the range by the BLM, HSUS, and others. It will be great when there is none left up there.

  4. YES! Now that’s what I’ve been talking about…”boots on the ground”, all year round!

    THANK YOU for all you do for the horses, Matt, both directly and indirectly!

    Wish I could be there to help with the fence removal project. You know I AM in spirit. Kudos to your dad, too. I’m sure you guys have to cover some TOUGH country to get to that area, and even if you had pictures of the terrain, they’d only begin to tell the tale.

    Counting wildlife is surely an important but vexing issue in modern management. I’m sure the input from consistent “spotters” is about the most accurate there is. It’s especially important to have someone familiar with the individuals—like you and other members of the PMWM Assoc.

    I’m not sure what methods were employed for counting the black bear population in our area in Wis., but it turned out to be about 50% under the actual population last year. At the same time, counting the number of deer tracks in a given area over a given period of time as a basis for estimating herd size could have contributed to a count of deer that was higher than actual—a small number of the same deer could have made most of the tracks… The difficulty with tallying the numbers of these critters is compounded by the lack of readily distinguishable characteristics.

    Anyway, keep up the good work, and I really appreciate your informative posts. The more facts we have, the better, to back up our opinions.

    Glad to see most of the horses looking pretty round and furry.

    Linda D

    • It’s good to hear from you, Linda! These fences really are back there quite a ways in a rugged area, but it’s a great area for horses to be living in. As I learned more about it, wildlife population estimation really does seem to be a tricky task. It seems like the techniques being researched by USGS acknowledge the uncertainty in estimation and then seek to find ways in which things like statistics can be used to correct for this uncertainty to produce as accurate an estimate as possible. Well, thanks for all of your support!

  5. Hi Matt,Tom & Tracker,
    Thanks for all your hard work on behalf of the horses!!!! Good to see Tracker again! I see he’s still roaming the range.

    • Donna,
      Good to hear from you! Tracker did have a fun time playing around there while we worked on the fence. I received your letter in the mail too, thank you very much for that.

  6. Way to go Matt and Tom, and Tracker!
    I just came in from fixing fences, as we have had some brutal winds through these parts. Took out big aspens, of course landing them on my fence!
    Just when the ol’ chainsaw started to go blunt, but now that it’s adjusted and sharpened, my back is complaining about all the sawing!
    Anyway, wish I could be there to help you two guys. Taking down fences is just as hard, if not harder, than putting them up. Barbed wire always takes a bite or two out of my face as I try coiling it! Like a biting snake!
    Great to see you are opening up some under-used portions for the horses. Every bit of extra grazing helps.
    And wonderful to see the fuzzy horses. I love Tecumseh, and great to see him looking so robust.
    I made some 8 x 10 enlargements of my photos from the herd, and framed and sold them at a Christmas farmers market. They were the first to go!
    Glad to see you are having the same good weather we are. Makes up for the early snow that came in October.
    Every day without snow saves me money on hay, as my crew are now grazing on their winter pasture, which is up to their bellies.
    Big hi to your dad and to Tracker!
    Tell your dad I am sending him a photo of Tracker behind the wheel.
    I’ll send it to the centre.
    And a HUGE thanks to you both for caring so much about the wild ones! Bless all of those who are lending a helping hand.
    Take care,
    And keep up the informative postings. These are wonderful for understanding the whole story of management with limited resources.
    Wendy D

  7. When was Beulah born? Was she born in 2001 or in 2002?

    • Thank-you for your question and your interest in the Pryor Mountain Mustangs. Beulah was born in 2001. Her Mom is Phoenix and Teton is her Father. I hope this answers your question.

      • When she was a yearling, did her mother gave birth to a palomino filly or a bay filly?

  8. Jonathan, CASSIDY #2209, was the 2nd
    Diamond-Phoenix* daughter, born in 2002m
    She’s described as Bay Roan, with ‘frosted’,
    2-tone M&T (sometimes looks very Light,
    sometimes fairly Dark body color).
    I believe she was ~1st mare that STILES-98 could
    Claim as his very Own! 😦
    & she is mom of SUMMER-2008, with
    MATEO as sire. (Not Sure of SUMMER’s ‘blm name’–maybe INCA ?).
    Unfortunately, ALL 3 of this Brand-New family were torn from
    Home, in 2009 Round-up!! 😦 (& sold for a pittance).
    I don’t know where CASSIDY went, but have often
    Wondered if, perhaps she had a ‘Stiles-foal’ the next Spring!? {anybody know ?}
    The 3rd Diamond-Phoenix* daughter of 2003, is DOVE, who’s occasionally described
    Palomino, but is light Buckskin, I think.

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