COLORADO SPRINGS, CO. (Nov. 20, 2013) – A United States District Court judge ruled against The Cloud Foundation (TCF), Front Range Equine Rescue and Carol Walker regarding the number of mustangs that can live on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range (PMWHR) in southern Montana and northern Wyoming. The plaintiffs also challenged the US Forest Service’s construction of a 2 mile-long fence built across a sub alpine meadow on the jurisdictional boundary between BLM and the Custer National Forest. The fence blocks horses from historic, crucial grazing land.
“We are currently studying the judge’s decision,” states Ginger Kathrens, executive director of TCF. “We will formulate our strategy after we have thoroughly discussed our options with our legal team.”
When BLM reduces the number of wild horses it will manage on the range, it threatens the continued survival of the herd. Equine geneticist, E. Gus Cothran Phd, who has studied the Pryor Herd since the early 1990s cautioned BLM managers of the PMWHR in his newest report issued on August 22, 2013. The report reveals a herd at risk of losing genetic variability. Cothran states that “compared to past sampling of this herd, variability levels for all measures has been in decline.” He further states that the expression of the Spanish heritage is “stronger than seen recently,” but we could be seeing “the very beginning of evidence of inbreeding.” Cothran advised that the population be increased if the range could support it.
In the spring of 2013 The Cloud Foundation volunteers helped the BLM apply PZP to control population growth in the PMWHR with the shared goal of reducing the need for removals, however, unless crucial grazing land fenced off by the USFS is restored, as well as vital winter range once included in the designated Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area portion of the PMWHR, the current range size may not support a herd of the requisite 150-200 adults or more to ensure the genetic viability of this world famous herd.