FoA to present BLM with ‘Worst Government Agency’ award, deliver comments about proposed roundup of Pryor Mountain Herd

FoA to present BLM with ‘Worst Government Agency’ award, deliver comments about proposed roundup of Pryor Mountain Herd

For Immediate Release
May 29, 2015
Priscilla Feral, president, Friends of Animals; 203-656-1522, ext. 404; feral@friendsofanimals.org
Edita Birnkrant, campaigns director, Friends of Animals; 917.940.2725; edita@friendsofanimals.org
Mike Harris, director, Wildlife Law Program; 720.949.7791; michaelharris@friendsofanimals.org

 

Where: BLM Field Office, 5001 Southgate Dr., Billings, Montana

When: 10:30 a.m., June 4, 2015

(Billings, MT) The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Billings, Montana Field Office has asked for comments about its proposed roundup and removal of at least 25 “adoptable” “excess” horses between the ages of 1 and 3—nearly all of the youth of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd—this summer. Friends of Animals (FoA) will deliver ones the BLM can’t ignore in person at 10:30 a.m. on June 4, 2015, and will present the “Worst Government Agency” award to the Billings’ staff for treating wild horses as pests that need to be controlled. Montana’s BLM has already zeroed out six of seven of the original wild horse Herd Areas in the state. 

There are only a measly 170 wild horses left in the entire state of Montana and the BLM Billings Field Office thinks that’s too many. The Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd includes Cloud, a pale palomino wild stallion and his family, made famous by the Cloud Foundation’s Emmy award-winning documentaries. BLM’s latest crime comes after years of forcibly drugging Cloud’s family with the fertility control pesticide PZP, which unfortunately the Cloud Foundation has participated in despite the organization’s director saying at March for Mustangs in 2010 that “Freedom and family is everything to wild horses.”

“FoA will be in Montana to let the public know that the red warning flags of extinction are flying on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. Years of taking away mares’ ability to reproduce—plus now yanking the youngest from their families and rangeland—equals extinction,” said Priscilla Feral, president of FoA. “If the Billings BLM office is allowed to eviscerate the beloved Cloud and his family and strip them of their legal rights despite ferocious public opposition, then what hope is there for any of America’s wild horses. To set this precedent is a nightmare for what are left of America’s underpopulated wild horses.”

FoA is challenging the BLM’s preliminary Environmental Assessment that states the purpose of the proposed roundup is to meet the goals and objectives of the 2009 Pryor Mountain Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP) by helping to maintain the wild horse appropriate management level of 120. The Billings Field Office manages approximately 434,000 acres of public lands and only 24,641 acres of all that land is allotted for the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses. FoA wants to see the current science (not outdated from 2009) that says that 24, 641 acres can sustain only 90-120 wild horses. FoA wants the Billings Field Office to explain why it can administer 378 cattle and sheep grazing allotments—allowing THOUSANDS of cattle and sheep to graze in areas adjacent to the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range—yet the range there doesn’t seem to need protection from an overpopulation of cattle and sheep.

The Environmental Assessment also conveniently ignores recommendations from the “Genetic Analysis of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range” by Dr. Gus Cothran in 2013—to increase population size to maintain genetic variability levels. His research also suggested “the very beginning of evidence of inbreeding.”

In addition, the 2009 HMAP does not take into consideration more recent scientific evidence that PZP has negative side effects on wild horses. 

“When the Humane Society obtained ESA registration for PZP in 2012, the organization never provided evidence that PZP doesn’t have negative side effects…it just provided information about the efficacy of PZP and actually requested waivers for most of the studies ordinarily required from an applicant seeking pesticide registration—including a toxicity study, ecological effects and environmental fate guideline study,” said Michael Harris, director of FoA’s Wildlife Law Program. “The majority of research submitted by HSUS was published by Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick, a veterinarian who manufactures PZP, and did not consider the biological, social and behavioral effects the drug can have on wild horses.”

More recent research has demonstrated repeated applications of PZP can cause physical damage to treated mares; it is not completely reversible; it can increase mortality in foals post-PZP effectiveness; and it interferes with herd cohesion, which is critical to the overall health of wild horses. In addition, preventing mares from producing foals can create a genetic bottleneck that may ultimately extinguish the species as a whole.

Earlier in May, FoA filed a legal petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requesting the agency consider new scientific evidence demonstrating the need to cancel the registration of porcine zona pellucida (PZP) for population control of America’s wild horses and burros. 

“Proponents of PZP have coerced the EPA into thinking that wild horses are nuisances and pests that need to be controlled and managed and kept in small herd areas,” Feral said. “But that’s because they are all in bed with ranchers who graze their cattle and sheep on public lands and resent wild horses.”

 

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