Posts tagged ‘mccullough’

October 28, 2009

Bridger update

A huge THANK YOU to fellow photographer Pam Nickoles who just found out and informed me, that one of my favorite Wild Horses, Bridger, from the McCullough Peaks Range was not rounded up and is still living free!

Pam and Carol Walker were both so helpful! – Thanks!

A small bit of good news when the world seems so tough now-a-days!

Bridger is the big, stocky grey stallion on the left.

bridger

Bridger and Bachelor Stallions, McCullough Peaks

 

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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.

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 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 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

September 5, 2009

Wild Horses Video

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

May 19, 2009

Pryor Mountain Timeline

Indian Rock Art with Horses, Moab Utah
Indian Rock Art with Horses, Moab Utah

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

HISTORY & TIMELINE

-The Crow Indian tribe used to refer to the Pryors as the “Arrow-head” mountains. Much flint rock is found there.

– No one is able to document how the horses were introduced to the area. It is suspected that they may have been captured and put in place by the Crow Indians as early as the 1700s.  The range is on the major migration routes of the Crow and Shoshone Indian tribes. The area is very rough and inaccessible, which has kept the herd isolated and prevented interbreeding with domestic stock turned loose by the Army and ranchers.

-The Pryor Mountains were named after Sergeant Nathaniel Pryor of the Lewis and Clark Expedition which traversed through the area and nearby Yellowstone River Valley in 1806.

-Its uncertain how they arrived, some say the Crow Indians stole horses from Lewis & Clark, others say they just escaped… anyway wild horses made Pryor Mountain home.

The late Bessie Tillett, whose family homesteaded the area, recalled seeing the horses when they arrived.

-1900 ; there was approx. 2 million wild horses roaming wild and free across the USA.

-1950’s ; only about 25,000 wild horses remained in the wild. Most were poisoned, shot (aka target practice), abused… thousands were captured and tortured only to be slaughtered for dog food. The wild horses were widely considered as ‘pests’ by ranchers in the western states.

Wild Horse Annie – In the 1950′s Wild Horses began to get National attention because of Velma Johnston (1912-1977). It began one day while she was driving to work, she saw blood running from a trailer hauling horses and followed it to a slaughter (1950 Reno Nevada). Sarcastically named ‘Wild Horse Annie’ by her strongest opponent and soon BLM employee Dan Solari, she insisted that her friends call her Annie.  She then affectionately became known as ‘Wild Horse Annie’. She fought (often her own life was in danger), raised awareness, and explained to Congress their conditions. Congress listened, and voted for laws to help protect the wild horses from horrible capturing methods, abuse, shooting, and to stop the poisoning of water holes ….. She was an advocate of the Wild Mustangs until her death in June 1977 from Lung Cancer.

-The Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range was established in 1968. Interested individuals and groups convinced Interior Secretary Stewart Udall to set aside approx. 32,000 acres in the Pryor Mountains as a public range for the wild horses. This was the first of its kind in the nation.

Rev. Floyd Schwieger, who moved to Lovell in 1962 as pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, fell in love with the area.  Rev. Schwieger is known as the preeminent “lay expert” on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd, but he is also an enthusiastic ambassador for not only the horses but for the Pryor Mountains, Big Horn Canyon and the Big Horn National Forest. “In the 40-plus odd years, he has probably shown more than 1,000 visitors around our area.  He has made hundreds of trips with people to the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range on his own and worked as a greeter volunteer for the National Park Service at Devil’s Canyon Overlook for the last three years.  He helped form the Pryor Mountain Watch Group, which helps protect the horses and the range, and provides information for visitors there in the summers.” Schwieger has helped many video and filmmakers over the years from as far away as Germany, France, England, Japan and major United States networks, the nomination points out, including an early film narrated by Chet Huntley. He also helped Bill Grunkemeier of Sheridan and Ginger Kathrens of Colorado Springs with their films about the horse range.

Schwieger served St. John’s for 16 years, then moved on to Lander in 1978 and Evanston/Ft. Bridger in 1982 to start new churches there before retiring to Cody in 1985. He moved back to Lovell in 1988 and has been here ever since. During his early years in Lovell, Schwieger began to explore the Lovell area, and as a man who had grown up with horses on his family’s Minnesota farm, he quickly fell in love with the mustangs of the Pryor Mountains, learning about the horses from people like Lloyd and Royce Tillett and Emil Doerr. “I was looking for a diversion, a hobby, and the horses became my interest,” he said.   Schwieger became actively involved in the effort to protect the Pryor Mountain horses and establish a wild horse range.  He soon began keeping records of the different bands and was one of the first to begin naming the horses. That practice evolved into numbering the horses according to band and naming individual members of the bands. He helped establish the Pryor Mountain Mustang Association and, later, the Pryor Mountain Breeders’ Association, which is dedicated to preserving Spanish mustangs.   In 1978, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management presented him with a plaque for his “untiring efforts to promote the welfare of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd.”   He has also received recognition from the BLM for his help with herd adoptions and the Watch Program, and from the National Park Service for his help at the Overlook. He is currently serving on the board of directors of the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center, and his dream is to see the center completed and in operation. “I’ve always felt this was an important part of our western history,” he said in explaining his interest, “a part of history that should be protected, just like the buffalo. The wild horse is part of the image of the west. People receive a great deal of enjoyment from seeing wild horses, and tourists enjoy them, too. “To make a long story short, I began to notice primitive markings of the Pryor horses that were different than domestic horses, and I wondered why. I did a lot of reading and research, and the Park Service provided $25,000 to do blood work, which revealed to us that the horses have a lineage that goes back to the old, European, Spanish horses.”

This land is God’s creation. It was given to us for our sustenance and our enjoyment including the creatures and everything else. “My natural interest is in the canyon and everything else, the scenic beauty of this country. I’ve lived in some pretty good tourist towns, and I couldn’t quite understand why the people in Lovell never got excited about the tremendous history, Indian artifacts, wildlife and everything else they have in the area.” Schwieger said he has told the National Park Service and often tells visitors that the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area and adjacent areas have “everything Yellowstone doesn’t have” – a canyon more spectacular than any in Yellowstone, authentic wild Spanish mustangs, Indian artifacts “all over the place” including the Medicine Wheel, the Bad Pass Trail, teepee rings and petroglyphs, and historic places like the M-L, Ewing-Snell and Lockhart Ranches and Hillsboro. To Floyd Schwieger, spreading the good news comes naturally, whether it be from the pulpit or while giving a tour. “It flows out of my deep conviction that this is important because it is God’s wonderful creation and man’s history. To be able to share this with people – what greater purpose can you have in life?”

-Management of the horse herd has long been a source of controversy.  Some advocate more of a “hands-off” approach, and others would like to see all herds drastically reduced.

-In BLM Roundups, horses have been injured or have perished during the stressful ordeal.

-BLM’s first Wild Horse Adoption took place in Montana 1973.

-BLM’s National Adopt-a-Horse Program was implemented in 1976.

-The 1977-78 winter was so nasty and harsh on the Pryor Horses that 100% of all aged horses and foals did not survive, cutting the herd about in half. – a natural ecosystem.

-In late May 1995 Cloud (named White Cloud by BLM) the light colored Stallion was born (by Raven, out of the Palomino Mare Phoenix), a major subject of Ginger Kathrens’ documentaries on Pryor Mountain.

-Mares normally foal around May or June, giving the foal time to grow and prepare for a harsh winter. However, some mares that have been darted with the controversial birth control drug PZP (The PZP Program began in 2001), are still foaling, and their cycle is ‘unnatural’. Some of these mares are foaling in late summer, September, or October. These late foals & mares do not have a decent chance to survive the harsh winters.

-In 2004, only one spring foal on Pryor Mountain (out of 28) survived the Mountain Lion predators. Usual foal crop is 20-30. In many other years around 30% of foals are killed by Mountain Lions – a natural ecosystem.

-Its a fact, some of the captured Wild Mustangs have eventually ended up at slaughters, after they are sold again from their ‘adopters’ and out of the control of the BLM. Some recent cases sprung up more action.

-Horse meat is a delicacy overseas.

-In 2006 ; there are approx. 27,000 wild horses roaming free. There are more than that being held in long term government holding facilities and at long-term ranches, where private individuals are being paid a daily fee to pasture these horses.

-McCullough Peaks – The existing BLM Appropriate Management Level is set between 70 and 140 animals. Current scientific studies suggest a minimum benchmark herd size of at least 150 animals to maintain health and genetic diversity……www.freindsofalegacy.org

-McCullough Peaks – In the fall of 2004, about 80% of the McCullough Peaks horses were removed by the BLM. About 390 head. Many of the remaining mares are on PZP…..Billings Gazette 11/05/04.

-In 2008 there are more than 33,000 wild horses being held in ‘long-term holding facilities’ in which the BLM pays per head, to ‘pasture’. Meanwhile, the BLM claims that funding is low.

-Around 06/30/08 the BLM announced they are considering euthanizing some wild horses, or sell them ‘in bulk’ which will only allow killer buyers to buy and ship the horses to Canada or Mexico.

-Visit www.thecloudfoundation.org for the latest news.

The horses need help!

-The scientific name for the domestic horse is Equus caballus. The name of the genus, equus, is Latin for “horse”; the name of the species, caballus, is Latin for “riding horse.” The word feral comes from the Latin fera, meaning “wild animal”; mustang is from the American Spanish word mestengo, meaning “stray animal.”

-Fossil records show that horses lived in North America thousands of years ago but died out – so in reality they were just reintroduced by the Spanish. Perhaps someday they too will be classified as ‘wildlife’!

References & Resources:

The Cloud Foundation
Taurus Productions, & especially Ginger Kathrens.
BLM 2003 Survey 2003 Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Survey, Britton Springs 10-31-2003
Cody Wyoming Chamber of Commerce
Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Center, Lovell Wyoming
Lovell Wyoming, the town
Lewis & Clark journey and notes
BLM Bureau of Land Management
Billings Gazette
Black Hills Horse Sanctuary, founded in 1988 in South Dakota