Posts tagged ‘desert’

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 25, 2009

McCullough update

After a one-day delay because of muddy conditions, the McCullough Peaks Round-up is over. 

The BLM claims that the 110,000 acre conditions are becoming ‘degraded’.   I just do not believe that.    In fact, in late 2004 (just after my very first visit), the BLM removed around 400 horses from McCullough!   So the land can support many more.

The horses, unless they are old or injured,  are in healthy condition, and even fat, as having built up much of their reserves for the harsh Wyoming winters.   The horses will eat just about anything including sage,  a fast spreading, and poor nutrient plant that cattle will not eat.

The water reservoirs are still holding water too after the summer.

I am still trying to find out if one of my personal favorite horses, Bridger, was removed.  (see his photos below)

I am happy to announce that no horses were killed or injured during this particular round-up.  Cattoor was the contractor.  Small foals & their Mothers were separated from the other adults to prevent injury to the foals.  That is much better results than in the past many years of round-ups.  Perhaps since the Public is paying more attention to Round-ups we will continue to see fewer injuries or deaths during these stressful ordeals.

The BLM did not remove all 122 horses as they had planned.  

193 horses were captured by helicopter over several days.   93 horses were removed, leaving only 120 head on McCullough Peaks (110,000 acres).   Many of the returned mares were also darted with the birth control drug PZP, so we’ll see fewer births in the next few years.

Studies show that at least 150 head are needed for safe genetics, so now the amazing McCullough Peaks Range is below safe Genetics Levels – like so many other ranges.

The 93 removed horses have been shipped to Rock Springs until next Spring.   Stallions will be gelded, all are freeze branded, and some may even be ‘gentled’ at a top-dollar expense.   – a taxpayers expense for the next 6 months.

So far, plans for their adoption will be in the Spring of 2010, perhaps the horses will be shipped back near Cody Wyoming for the adoption.  

Meanwhile the Market, for all horses, is down, and its very low for Wild Horses.  There are very few people who can house, train, and care for a Wild Animal. 

 

Only approx. 3,000 were adopted last year, and nearly 12,000 horses are planned to be removed this fiscal year.   So the round-ups are being conducted at an amazingly fast, unprecedented,  and very costly pace.

The McCullough Peaks Range is a favorite for many of the local citizens of Cody, Powell, Lovell,  as well as travelers to the Yellowstone Area.  These Wild Horses can be easily viewed along or just off of the Highway.  The local citizens too  are voicing their concerns, but it seems to be going to a silent BLM ear.

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.

October 11, 2009

New Wild Horse Gift Store

Black Tee from Wild Horse Gift Store

Black Tee from Wild Horse Gift Store

Wild Horse Gift Store
Wild Horse Gift Store
Wild Horse Gift Store
Wild Horse Gift Store
Our lil’  Wild Horse Gift Store  is re-opened, and we will be adding more horse images soon from the McCullough Peaks & Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Ranges.  Partial profit proceeds will be donated to TCF to continue helping the Wild Horses.
September 24, 2009

Pryor Horse Auction Photos

The BLM’s photos of the horses up for auction & sale on Sept 26, 2009 near Lovell Wyoming

http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/mt/field_offices/billings/adoption.Par.71138.File.dat/adoptionlist.pdf

 

UPDATE  09/27/09
from TCF

All 57 either adopted or sold to good homes!

4 bands of Forest Service horses, 15 total including Floyd and Conquistador and his mare will be kept together at a ranch near their homeland.

Ember and Image get to stay together, have a great home, also adopted into great homes were Arrow, Rain, Helena Montana, Stiles, Cassidy, the lame foal with his mom, who is looking better, and Ginger got Sax.

Conquistador had the record bid – $2500

Huge thanks to all the Freedom Fund donars and all the supporters who made this possible – this is a big win…. TCF

On a sad note, Ginger and others visited the horses on Pryor Mountain, and they are reporting that many of the horses are still foot-sore and lame… even Cloud, the most famous living Wild Stallion.   It was difficult to watch them even walk over to the watering hole.

It is so sad what this roundup has done to these horses.  The BLM has over 31,000 horses it is holding and could be sold, yet they just had to torment this herd to gather 57 more horses at a huge taxpayer’s expense.

September 22, 2009

Why are Pryor Horses Important?

They are beautiful and we love to watch or read stories about them… but why are Pryor Mountain Horses so different?

Let’s go back in time to before the conquistadors’ arrived in America…

It was said by Roman authorities that the Spanish horses were the  world’s best;  though after the time of the Romans innumerable crosses with brood stock from other countries,  has made the homogeneous Spanish horse group of whatever type exceedingly rare.  One circumstance, however, the occupation of the Americas  significantly furthered the preservation of the purity of blood of the indigenous Colonial Spanish horse.

These small Spanish horses with its Iberian breeding could sustain the cold and humidity of winter in the Iberian woods along the rivers,  were accustomed to the north wind; the dryness of summer with its south wind from estrammadura, Alentejo, and Andaluz;  having endured temperatures from well below zero to 104 degrees Fahrenheit in the sun of open country, without shade or shelter;  having lived only on plants that were few and rotten in the winter,  straw dry in the summer, have undergone intestinal worms, parasites, and flies that kill Arabian and English horses;  and having worked hard and patiently in the hands of man;  in all seasons, with all weights;  they furnished the Spaniards with their best instrument for the occupation of the Americas.

While extinct on their native homeland, and the Carribean, and although rare,  there is still to be found,  in this America of the North, small numbers of the ancient Colonial Spanish horse…

 Although horses evolved and are native in North America, (fossil records prove they are a native species!) when Spanish soldiers invaded in the 1500s, horses had been extinct in the Americas for thousands of years. 

When re-introduced, the Spanish horses must have seemed like monsters to the Native Americans.  The Spanish made the most of this advantage by spreading rumors that horses were magical beasts. 

Spanish Conquistadors

Spanish Conquistadors

 

The Incas were not allowed to ride horses for centuries after the Spanish occupation began. The Spaniards wanted to keep the power of horses for themselves—and with good reason. When Native peoples acquired horses in Chile, Argentina and across the US Great Plains, they quickly became superior riders and used them to fight off the European invaders for years.

  

 

Now lets skip to the year 1806…

The Lewis & Clark Expedition (1803-1806)

In 1806, the Expedition was on its way back home from the Oregon Coast.  By summer they had entered the Yellowstone/Montana area.  They had picked up Spanish horses from the Natives along the way…

Clark had seen smoke when they were traveling down the Yellowstone Valley and thought it was from Crow villages.  Clark had prepared a speech to give to the Crow.  He never met with the Crow to give this talk. 

During the night of July 21, 1806, twenty-four (about 1/2) of their horses where stolen.  When the camp awoke that morning they searched for the missing horses and did not find them.  The next day tracks were found going east and moving fast, Clark then surmised that the Crow had taken the horses.   (The Crow captured horses as a feat of honor.  One of the four things a person had to do to become a Crow Chief was to Capture a horse from within an enemy’s camp.  They did not consider horse thievery a dishonorable thing to do.)

East of the Yellowstone Valley lays the Arrowhead Mountains, known for its flint rock.  Within these mountains is the Pryor Mountain area, named after Sergeant Pryor.

Clark had canoes built and parted with Sergeant Pryor on July 23rd.   That prior evening, Pryor met with Clark at the mouth of the Clarks Fork River and told Clark he needed more help to drive the remaining horses as they wanted to chase buffalo and he could not control them.  The next morning Pryor and three men left with the horses to take them to the Mandan.  On the second night out from the Rochejhone River,  Pryor camped on a dry creek and awoke in the morning to find that all the horses were missing. After a search, he concluded that the Crow Indians had captured the remainder of the horses that were to be taken to the Mandan.  He then traveled down this dry creek to the Yellowstone River just below Pompeys Pillar and concluded that Clark had already gone down river.

When Clark had re-visited the pillar he noted that there was Indian art on the rock near where he carved his name.  

Lewis & Clark were  in Crow Country and they had lost about 50 horses.

No one knows just exactly how or when the Spanish Wild Horses began living on the Pryor Mountain area, it is however, a very likely possibility they are  of the Lewis & Clark Expedition Horses!

 The Pryor Horses still show many traits of the old Spanish breeding including;  zebra-like stripes on the legs, across the shoulders, or a dark dorsal stripe down the spine.  

Much of the original colors are found there too including;  dun, gruella, black, brown, roan, & buckskin.   Recently, DNA tests confirm these horses trace back to the Colonial Spanish Horses with a rare gene.

Because of the remoteness and ruggedness of the Pryor Mountain area, and having very few ‘white men’ inhabiting the area, (thus also keeping very little developement out of the area) has mostly kept other European horses out of the area. 

In most of the other Wild Horse Ranges scattered throughout the Western US, the hardy Colonial Spanish horses have been mixed with various other breeds that have escaped or were released into the wild by farmers, travelers, & military.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the history of the little Spanish Wild Horses and why the Pryor Horses are so unique!

-Kathy

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