Massive Removal from Clouds Herd

October 22, 2009

When I found out that the BLM (Bureau of Land Management, government agency that is supposed to ‘manage’ wild horses in the US) was planning a massive removal of the beloved wild horse herd that I follow and photograph, my heart cried out that it must not happen! And following my heart, I got busy writing letter after letter to try to stop this round up. Along with thousands of other people whose hearts were just as shattered as mine, the BLM turned a deaf ear to the outcry. They moved forward with the destructive round up, citing that the land could not sustain the number of wild horses that it held. This had me shaking my head in disbelief. Having been on the Pryor Mountain wild horse range in Montana many times over the past several years, I started to wonder if the BLM had taken the wrong road to the mountain to make these determinations. The Pryor Mountain wild horses enjoy lush summer grazing atop their beautiful home.

Shaman on his mountain top home

Shaman on his mountain top home

The amount of precipitation the mountain range has received in the past 3 years is incredibly high. This gives the snow-fed water holes an abundance of water, not only for the wild horses, but also for the other wildlife that call the Pryors their home. The BLM is stating that the horses will starve to death if they are not removed from their mountain home. I have yet to see a starving horse in all of the years I have visited the Pryors. These horses are incredibly healthy. Another interesting tale the BLM has told is that many of the young foals have died over the summer months due to lack of nutrition in their mother’s milk. If they ever bothered to actually go up on the mountain to watch and observe these wild horses, they would have seen that predation by mountain lions has played the major part in the deaths of these young ones.

Chance's band

Chance's band

Despite the thousands of letters, emails and phone calls from around the world protesting this round up, the BLM went ahead and conducted their ‘gather’. Out of 182 horses, they ripped 57 wild horses from their families and the only home they have ever known. Many of Cloud’s family were permanently removed from the only home they have ever known: Image, Ember, Rain, Arrow and Sage. Sadly, an entire subpopulation of Pryor wild horses were removed as well. They had been using the Custer National Forest as their home long before Wild Horse and Burro Act was put into motion in 1971.

Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress
assembled, That Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols
of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the
Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing
fromthe American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be
protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered
in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.

Even though wild horses were documented as being on Forest Service land the day the Wild Horse and Burro Act was put into motion in 1971, the Forest Service does not want anything to do with the beautiful horses that call that land their home. Even though the BLM had stated they would only remove a few of these horses, they ended up removing ALL of them from the Custer Forest Service land.

Cloud and his daughter Firestorm mutual grooming

Cloud and his daughter Firestorm mutual grooming

Thanks to the Cloud Foundation and supporters from all over the world, the entire group of Forest Service horses were adopted as a group and are on a ranch very close to their mountain home. It is my hope that someday they will be let back onto their mountain top home – to freedom.


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