Posts tagged ‘cody’

October 26, 2009

Wild Horse Population Numbers

The Numbers:

Around 1900 there were about 2 million horses running free.   

Millions were shot, poisoned, slaughtered, and considered as pests by western Ranchers.

In the 1950’s (when Wild Horse Annie first brought horses to the national spotlight), there were only about 25,000 left in the wild.

In 1971, The Wild Horse & Burro Act was passed, and there were about 54,000 horses in the wild.   It was a long, hard battle for Horse Advocates to get this passed, but the law set aside 54 million acres for wild horses. – the initial public land where these horses were already established.

Now in 2009, there are approx. 32,000 horses in the wild.  Some say fewer, and want an actual census of horses and land to be done by a third party.

The BLM plans to remove 12,000 horses between Sept 2009-Oct 2010. 

If they conduct these expensive roundups in the next 12 months, that will leave about 20,000 horses in the wild – about 1/2 of the horses than when the Law was initially passed in 1971!  

The BLM is greatly reducing Wild Horses to near-extinction, and very quickly too. 

Since the 1971 Law was passed, 25 million acres (about 50%) have been quietly taken away from the wild horses.   Because of these little known BLM actions, the BLM tries to claim that these current (smaller and fewer) Ranges are overpopulated, and the land is ‘degrading’.  They claim that round-ups are for the safety of the horses – to prevent starvation. 

That is simply a lie from the BLM to convince the average American that round-ups are needed. 

There are 3 million cattle, 100:1 ratio of cattle to wild horses on public land. 

The horses are being mis-managed and driven to extinction, one horse range at a time, all across the great American West.

Please contact your State Senators, Congressmen, and the Obama Administration, to support the ROAM ACT and the Wild Horses.  Give them back the land that should be theirs in the first place.

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October 14, 2009

So sad … McCullough’s Round Up

Bridger - McCullough Peaks Wild Stallion

Bridger - McCullough Peaks Wild Stallion - one of my favorites!

Bridger, McCullough Peaks Stallion

Bridger, McCullough Peaks Stallion - he is beautiful! My fav!

Title 'The Chase' McCullough Peaks

Title 'The Chase' McCullough Peaks - The little Pinto is fiesty!

McCullough Peaks in black & white.  A fast summer storm approaching.

McCullough Peaks in black & white. A fast summer storm approaching.

McCullough Peaks, one of my favorite places to visit while in Wyoming!  My two young children, husband, and I have visited this Range several times since my first visit in 2004.   My children, then aged 6 years and 9, both had a wonderful time -eventhough we were in the ‘middle of nowhere’ – they never have been ‘bored’ like kids often get after several hours.  It is such a wonderful experience to take the next generation into the Wild Horse Ranges!  My kids have even said they like it better than Yellowstone at times! WOW!

I am thankful that we have had the chance to visit, but I am so nervous & worried for the horses.  Which ones will the BLM take away?  Bridger my favorite?

Sadly, I cannot be there during the round-up.  Before BLM released these round-ups, I had already booked these dates.

This round-up is unnecessary right now and its so sad that the BLM are removing 122 horses!

Whenever we visit, we are lucky if we see about 40-50 head.

Right now the BLM is the Wild Horses greatest enemy with these large round-ups.

September 18, 2009

Pryor Roundup Sept 3-9, 2009

The costs of the recent Wild Horse roundup on Pryor Mountain….

The BLM rounded up most of the Wild Horses, processed, and will put about 57 Pryor horses (+3 foals) through their adoption program on Sept 26, 2009 leaving only around 120 horses on approx. 32,000 acres.

The helicopter roundup started on Sept 3rd, and many horse bands (families) were driven 10+ miles (one way) from the grassy meadows at the top of the mountain (elevation 8700 ft) to the lower desert elevations, captured, & penned at the Britton Springs Corral where they were processed one at a time.  Some of the horses that had been designated to be removed were not captured because the roundup ended early.  However, others that had already been captured will be taking their place.

A newborn foal at the top of the mountain, and footsore horses are just a few reasons why the roundup ended earlier then planned.  But I have to wonder if the BLM received a phone call from a higher authority to stop because of the intense media coverage and public outrage.

BLM Goals:
Genetic specialists say for safe genetics, a properly managed herd should be closer to 200 head, meanwhile the BLM wants less than 100 head on Pryor and the other Wild Horse Herd Ranges.   Did the BLM authorize and pay for the study yet are ignoring the results?

What did this one roundup cost us?
It may run as high as $150,000 according to Jim Sparks, BLM Field Manager.  (Billings Gazette)    Usually, each roundup only runs around $60,000.

Yet because the BLM refused to change their plans, and they fought hard against the huge public outcry, petitions, flooding of callers, even letters from senators, & lawsuits… it may cost us something like $150,000!

Citizens are still wanting the BLM … to play a better role and properly mange the horses.

We taxpayers, are in a pickle!  We foot the gov’t bills while they refuse to listen to us, and the BLM again depends on the public to adopt these horses, because they may starve in the wild on our public lands!  (Starvation & poor range conditions are the BLM’s biggest excuse for so many roundups)

So according to the BLM, you and I should adopt these poor, unfortunate, almost starving, & overpopulated horses and pay for their lifetime of care.

But wait a minute…
Although I do not live on or near any of the Wild Horse Ranges, I have always been around horses, and I personally have never seen a starving wild horse because of poor range conditions while photographing them. I have seen thin horses due to injuries & old age, but that is how Mother Nature works when you are living wild and free.

Many people claim that the Pryor Mountain Range is in better condition in 2009 than the last several years.

But lets remind the public that horses have died while in the direct care of the BLM!  I can recall one time reading about when the BLM ‘forgot’ about a small herd they had put in a ‘holding area’ that had NO WATER!

The number of adoptions is way down, (was their program ever really successful?) yet higher than normal roundups have been reported in the last few years and many more are planned.  Even 100% elimination for some areas.

Why 100% elimination and large removals?  Hmmm, does greed, gas & oil, even cattle, or just plain bad judgement ring a bell?

Doesn’t this horrible cycle really make you mad, even if you are not a true fan of Wild Horses, and do not appreciate their beauty and the fact that they are living symbols of America’s Wild West and History?

In 1900 there were 2 million wild horses roaming and now there is around 25,000. (some say more like 15,000)

The whole issue and my story here is not just about the horses… its the poor management skills of millions of acres of public land, abuse of power, greed, the over- spending of taxpayers’ money, & not listening to the public outcry.   And now they have authorities at the roundups allowing the public extremely poor & limited access, or no access at all, during roundup activities – on our public lands!  So we too are loosing our freedoms with the BLM!

The BLM is a disaster! A regular business could never survive or exist if they worked like the BLM.

The BLM hires and depends on a contractor to ‘do the dirty work’ and conduct round ups.

There are two helicopter contractors in the US and one of them is Cattoor.

Oh, did I mention that the hired contractor David Cattoor, (Cattoor Livestock Roundup), is a 1992 convicted felon for illegally capturing horses in one state, trucking over state lines, & selling them to a slaughter in Texas? He’s been in the business since 1971, so he knew what he was doing in 1992.

It pays well to be a horse contractor for the gov’t, because Cattoor has reported more than 12 MILLION dollars earned from 2000-2007 and the BLM is his primary customer.  Some say he has earned 20 Million+ rounding up horses.   Really?

Oh, did I mention that felons arn’t supposed to get jobs working for the federal gov’t?

I just do not understand why he has been able to earn so much money from the government if he is a convicted felon.

For the few days that the Cattoor Contractors & Wranglers were ‘just sitting around’ because of the court delay on the roundup, they collected a cool $7,000 per day.

Yes, they even rounded up Cloud, the most famous living Wild Mustang Stallion, despite a huge international uproar.

When many of the horses were released a day or so later, they were still limping & footsore, even the famous Cloud.  Isn’t there a better way to work together on this?

Because of the high media attention (most documented in history) on this recent Pryor Mountain roundup, the amount of injury & round-up related deaths was way lower than the usual.   So what exactly does that say?



Conquistador (Stallion) in 2008

Since Pryor Horses are famous, they will probably all be adopted, (even the older ones like Conquistador, who is 19), instead of being held in the long term holding facility that is already holding 33,000+ head. Well, I hope they will be adopted!

Long Term Holding Costs:
The program’s direct costs for holding animals off the range increased from $7 million in 2000 to $21 million in 2007.  For 2008, these costs could account for 74 percent of the program’s budget.

Now for some good news!

Ginger Kathrens’ third Cloud PBS Movie Series,  “Cloud, Challenge of the Stallions” airs Oct 25, 2009 on PBS!

The movie will be fabulous!  But sadly I already know how upset I will be when I again see many of the horses in the movie, as I know that they have already been rounded up and are forever gone from the mountain.

Visit www.thecloudfoundation.org for more info

Cloud’s Image & Ember, (Cloud’s grandchildren) both 2008 foals were removed.

I have had the privilege of photographing and ‘hanging out’ with these beautiful horses.  If you ever get the chance, please visit a wild horse herd – before they are all gone.

-Kathy Weigand

August 25, 2009

Getting to know the horses

** Copied from my Mustang Page that was written in 2006 ***

As a child, I was fortunate enough to have been raised on a farm with animals including horses, and I have always admired their strength and beauty.

When I was around ten years old, I was thumbing through a magazine, which included a short story and photos of some wild Mustangs, and I wished that I could see them in the wild.

My first true photographic encounter with Wyoming’s Wild Mustangs was in July 2004 during a visit to Cody Wyoming. We found the McCullough Peaks Range, around 40 (aka the Wild Bunch) all in seemingly good health, during our first visit.  It was a collection of families with various mixed colors (paints, palomino, sorrel, bay, buckskin, dun, roan…) and markings. They kept a very watchful eye on us at all times, never completely letting their guard down.

We immediately felt their amazing wild spirit.  What a fun day!  We watched the different family members interact… young foals would periodically nurse, sometimes a pair of friendly horses would ‘groom’ each other, and occasionally a few yearlings would playfully kick up their heels. We watched these horses for several hours in the quite desert, while also keeping an eye on the western sky.   Storm clouds rolled in all around and rain was falling on the distant hills, so we packed up our gear and headed back to Cody.  It was a short yet wonderful encounter!

In July of 2006 we returned to the McCullough Peaks Range. Ahhh, another beautiful Wyoming sunset! We paused on a ridge to watch the sunset over the high desert canyons and rolling hills. Other wildlife moved around us including antelope, rabbits, and a burrowing owl! In the distance we could hear a coyote barking while we watched the sun slip behind the hills. Although we only managed to find a handful of horses on that day, we enjoyed the peaceful desert evening, and it was a nice ending to an adventurous day.

Our next day trip to the McCullough Peaks would produce more horses.  Like our 2004 visit, several bands of horses had gathered together creating a large group of forty or so. We were spellbound by their presence, and my camera stayed busy! Thank goodness for long lenses.

We watched them until the horses finally moved on.

We kept going back to McCullough, but for our much anticipated last ‘horse day trip’ we cruised to Lovell Wyoming and up Pryor Mountain, which is just over the Montana border.  While heading up Pryor Mountain early in the morning, (approx. 8700 ft. elevation, 4×4 ) the roads were rough at times with ruts and washboard, but the area was filled with pretty rock outcroppings, tree clusters, meadows, and grand overlooks. As we rounded a curve, the landscape suddenly opened up to some beautiful mountain meadows, and we were thrilled to see several bands of horses right there in the open meadows!

As we rolled to a stop not too far from Penn’s Cabin along the Sykes Ridge Road (a very difficult road, 4×4 only – best with atv or jeep), a gorgeous black stallion (Raven) stood just a few feet away grazing, seemingly unmindful of our human presence.  He was a beauty!  This older stallion did not have any mares, and he stood alone. His shiny black coat was loaded with scars from head to hoof. The stallion kept busy grazing on the summer mountain grass, always watching, yet thoughtfully ignoring us ‘tourists’. Now at 18 years old, Raven has lost his mares and family to the younger and stronger band stallions (we understand that he lost them in the summer of 2005), but he is still a magnificent animal.

* NOTE *
Raven has passed on. (Winter 2007-08?) I will miss him much!  At least he lived and died FREE!

The Pryor Mountain Mustangs are very unique wild horses. They have the genetic DNA link to the Spanish Conquistador’s horses, which are a special part of America’s History!

We couldn’t believe that many of the wild horses on this mountain were fairly approachable, as we ‘stepped’ into their world. (ALWAYS KEEP A SAFE DISTANCE!)

We wanted to absorb as much as possible from each horse, and we quietly observed all of the wild horses around us. Most of the animals were steadily grazing, but several young stallions, or bachelor stallions, were running about chasing each other, their sure-footed pounding hooves could be easily heard hitting the rocky ground.

Like hawks, the band stallions were busy keeping watch over their families, making sure that no other stallion moved in too close.

We ‘absorbed’ all the horse activities that we could!  The horse ‘action’ was all around us!  What a special place!

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The wild horses and their scenic mountain home were magical – in a world of their own.

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Again, we began watching the late summer afternoon sky, as dark storm clouds and fierce lightening quickly approached the mountain.

We knew that we had to go… and that was very difficult for us.

~Kathy Weigand