After spending 3 days on top of the mountain with Cloud’s herd I arrived home to a letter from the Bureau of Land Management:
Scoping Notice For Capturing and Removal of Wild Horses in the Pryor Mountains.
Yes, again – even though the herd was rounded up as recently as in August of 2009, even though they have been administering birth control in the form of pzp utilizing field darting, still this is not enough for the BLM.
This notice is dated July 28, 2011 and is NOT on the Billings BLM Field Office Website. They are proposing a “non-helicopter capture and removal operation of wild horses” which “could include bait trapping, water trapping, herding or a combination of techniques.”
The reasoning behind this proposal is that AML (Appropriate Management Level) for the Pryor Mountain Herd is between 90 – 120 horses, excluding the current year foal crop, and right now the population is exceeding this AML. They estimate the current population to be 150 plus 17 foals.
This action is supposed to “prevent deterioration of the range” and “maintain a thriving ecological balance.”
There is no mention of how many horses they plan to remove, nor is there any mention of when exactly this removal is supposed to take place, but it will be next year, 2012.
The timing is very interesting and not at all surprising given the presence of the new fence which now cuts this herd off from its historic and annually used summer and fall range, onto the Forest Service Lands. If the BLM does do their Environmental Assessment this late summer while the horses are milling around, trying to find a way to their normal range and not being able to, and then grazing down the Herd Management Area on top of the mountain, it will be easy for them to prove that there is degradation of the range – degradation that they have caused by erecting this monstrosity of a $300,000 fence.
Here is the link to the scoping document, finally posted on the Billings BLM website:
“The public is encouraged to participate throughout the EA process.”
You may make comments in writing to:
Jim Sparks, Field Manager
BLM – Billings Field Office
5001 Southgate Drive
Billings, MT 59101
“Questions should be directed to: Jared Bybee, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist: 406- 896-5223.”
They make a note that “submissions in the form of petitions are not considered comments. Submission of form letters or talking points is typically considered as one comment, since they repeat the same thing and typically originate from the same source.”
In other words, the BLM is making it as hard on the public to comment as possible – no email address for comments, just mail and fax. This will not stop the public from commenting against this proposed action.