The Salazar Plan outlines everything in 2009

Release Date: 10/07/09
Contacts: Frank Quimby (DOI) , 202-208-6416
Tom Gorey (BLM) , 202-912-7420

Secretary Salazar Seeks Congressional Support for Strategy to Manage Iconic Wild Horses

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today proposed a national solution to restore the health of America’s wild horse herds and the rangelands that support them by creating a cost-efficient, sustainable management program that includes the possible creation of wild horse preserves on the productive grasslands of the Midwest and East.“The current path of the wild horse and burro program is not sustainable for the animals, the environment, or the taxpayer,” Salazar said in a letter outlining his proposals to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and eight other key members of Congress with jurisdiction over wild horse issues.  Salazar said he is “proposing to develop new approaches that will require bold efforts from the Administration and from Congress to put this program on a more sustainable track, enhance the conservation for these iconic animals, and provide better value for the taxpayer.”Bob Abbey, Director of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), commended the Secretary for his initiative, saying, “The proposals we are unveiling today represent a forward-looking, responsive effort to deal with the myriad challenges facing our agency’s wild horse and burro program.”  Abbey added, “We owe wild horses and burros on Western rangelands high-quality habitat. We owe the unadopted wild horses and burros in holding good care and treatment.  And we owe the American taxpayer a well-run, cost-effective wild horse program. Today’s package of proposals will achieve those ends.”The challenges to the BLM associated with maintaining robust wild horse populations in the West have been recognized by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which has warned that program costs have risen beyond sustainable levels and directed the BLM to prepare a long-term plan for the program.  The Government Accountability Office also found the program to be at a “critical crossroads,” affirmed the need to control off-the-range holding costs, and recommended that the BLM work with Congress to find a responsible way to manage the increasing number of unadopted horses.  In response to Congressional direction, Salazar’s proposals aim to achieve a “truly national solution” to a traditionally Western issue.

In four decades under the BLM’s protection, wild horses that were fast disappearing from the American scene are now experiencing rapid growth.  Secretary Salazar noted that some 37,000 wild horses and burros, which have virtually no natural predators, roam in 10 Western states, where arid rangelands and watersheds “cannot support a population this large without significant damage to the environment.”

The BLM works to achieve an ecological balance on the range by removing thousands of wild horses and burros from public rangelands each year and then offering them for adoption.   Unadopted animals are cared for in short-term corrals and long-term pastures.  With the sharp decline in wild horse adoptions in recent years because of the economic downturn, the Bureau now maintains nearly 32,000 wild horses and burros in holding, including more than 9,500 in expensive short-term corrals.  In the most recent fiscal year (2009), which ended September 30, holding costs were approximately $29 million, or about 70 percent of the total 2009 enacted wild horse and burro program budget of $40.6 million.

A key element of the Secretary’s plan, designed to address concerns raised by the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Government Accountability Office, would designate a new set of wild horse preserves across the nationCiting limits on forage and water in the West because of persistent drought and wildfire, Salazar said the lands acquired by the BLM and/or its partners “would provide excellent opportunities to celebrate the historic significance of wild horses, showcase these animals to the American public, and serve as natural assets that support local tourism and economic activity.”  The wild horse herds placed in these preserves would be non-reproducing.

In his letter, Salazar also proposed:

  • Managing the new preserves either directly by the BLM or through cooperative agreements between the BLM and private non-profit organizations or other partners to reduce the Bureau’s off-the-range holding costs.  This coordinated effort would harness the energy of wild horse and burro supporters, whose enthusiasm would also be tapped to promote wild horse adoptions at a time when adoption demand has softened.• Showcasing certain herds on public lands in the West that warrant distinct recognition with Secretarial or possibly congressional designations.  These would highlight the special qualities of America’s wild horses while generating eco-tourism for nearby rural communities.• Applying new strategies aimed at balancing wild horse and burro population growth rates with public adoption demand.  This effort would involve slowing population growth rates of wild horses on Western public rangelands through the aggressive use of fertility control, the active management of sex ratios on the range, and perhaps even the introduction of non-reproducing herds in some of the BLM’s existing Herd Management Areas in 10 Western states.  The new strategies would also include placing more animals into private care by making adoptions more flexible where appropriate.

Noting that his proposals are subject to Congressional approval and appropriations, Salazar said he and Director Abbey look forward to discussing them with members of Congress “as we work together to protect and manage America’s ‘Living Legends.’”

A copy of the letter is online at For background information on the national wild horse and burro program, please visit the BLM’s Website at

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2012, activities on public lands generated $4.6 billion in revenue, much of which was shared with the States where the activities occurred. In addition, public lands contributed more than $112 billion to the U.S. economy and helped support more than 500,000 jobs.

More PZP news regarding the Pryor herd

Cross posted from Wild in the Pryors:   Comments


I have been home now for a little over a week.  It feels good to have some time with my husband Bill and my animals.  But I do miss the Pryors and look forward to my next trip, which is coming up fast.

Even though I am not there, I know the horses are fine.  They have been fine for over 200 years (many more than that I am sure)  and I hope that they will continue to be fine.  But with the up coming PZP proposal, I am not sure this will be the case. Let’s just say I am worried.  I need to think about this proposal and meet with some others that know and care about this special herd before I make any final judgements and construct my letter to the BLM in regards to it.

I had a message on my cell phone from Jared saying this was coming out (thank you Jared for the call).  I did go on their website:  BLMWEBSITE.  On this page you can go to the lower left and see MT/DK Draft Resource Management Plans.  Under there, there is a link to the PMWHR fertility control modification.  There are several links to read, and I encourage you to read them.

A couple of days later I got my “Interested Party” letter in the mail telling me about the proposed plan.

Dear Interested Party,

United States Department of the Interior

5001 Southgate Drive
Billings, Montana 59101-4669

August 1, 2013

After consideration of public input during scoping the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range (PMWHR) Fertility Control Modification Preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) DOI-BLM- MT-010-2013-0034 and unsigned Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) are available for a 30 day public review and comment period. The documents will be available at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Billings Field Office (BiFO) website at The comment period will be conducted beginning August 6, 2013 and ending on September 6, 2013

This EA is tiered to the PMWHR/Territory EA (MT-010-08-24) and Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP) May 2009. This tiered EA has been prepared to analyze the impacts associated to wild horses and other resources from modification to the current fertility control prescription. The analysis from the HMAP and the 2011 Fertility Control EA are incorporated by reference. All other impacts and affected environment are already described and analyzed in the HMAP and subsequent FONSI and Decision Record (DR). These documents are also available at the BLM web address above.

Comments about the EA or unsigned FONSI can be sent to or at the letterhead address by close of business September 6, 2013. To best ensure interested party’s comments are received, comments can be sent in a written form and mailed or hand delivered to the Billings Field Office. The BLM will consider any substantive comments and revise the EA or FONSI as appropriate. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment, including your personal identifying information, may be publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Thank you for your interest in the management of the PMWHR by the Billings Field Office. If you have any questions concerning the EA or unsigned FONSI, please contact Jared Bybee, Montana/Dakotas State Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, at (406) 896-5223.

Noble and Naolin, July 2013

Noble and Naolin, July 2013

Below is the unsigned FONSI.  If I am understanding this right, this will be the proposal and will be signed if they don’t hear enough feedback suggesting other wise.

(Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range Fertility Control Modification Preliminary Environmental Assessment
Tiered to the
Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range/Territory Environmental Assessment And Herd Management Area Plan May 2009)

This unsigned FONSI and EA (DOI-BLM-MT-0010-2013-0034-EA) is to modify the current fertility control prescription and apply fertility control to nearly every mare on the PMWHR through 2015 in order to help maintain the appropriate management level of 90-120 wild horses and reduce the need for a large scale gather. The modification to the current prescription would begin in the fall of 2013 and last through 2015 (the life of the current prescription). The modification to the fertility control would consist of applying primer doses to in the fall to mares in the one year old age class (when they are not quite two) and any mare that has not ever been primed in the fall of 2013. Mares ages 5-10 years old that have offspring on the range that are one year old or older would be given a booster. The rest of the treatment would continue as currently is. This would continue in 2014 and 2015. Treatments would still be designed to treat mares before becoming pregnant which in the spring, however in 2014 and 2015 boosters would be applied any time of the year. The EA is available for a 30-day public review and comment period beginning on August 6, 2013, and will end on September 6, 2013. The documents are available on the Billings Field Office website at

Based on the analysis of potential environmental impacts in the attached EA and consideration of the significance criteria in 40 CFR 1508.27, I have determined that with proposed mitigating measures incorporated as part of the proposed action this would not result in significant impacts on the human environment. An environmental impact statement (EIS) is not required.

The decision to approve or deny a modification of the current fertility control prescription to mares within PMWHR, and if appropriate a signed FONSI with rationale, will be released after consideration of public comments and completion of the EA. 

Niobrara, June 2013

Niobrara, June 2013

While I am not opposed to using PZP, I am opposed to the overuse of it.

Last year most of the J, K and L girls got removed.  So that alone will make a huge difference to the upcoming years of foals.  This year we have begun to see the effects of PZP.  There have only been 15 (13 surviving) foals born compared to 25 last year.

Please read and please submit your comment letter.  Comments need to be in by September 6, 2013.


Ecologist Craig Downer speaks out against using PZP in the Pryors

Craig Downer

Craig Downer (Photo © Cat Kindsfather, all rights reserved.)

Protect Mustangs’ Advisory Board member offers holistic management based on Reserve Design as opposed immunocontraceptives approved by the EPA as pesticides 

April 15, 2013

Mr. James M Sparks, Billings Field Manager
BLM, Billings Field Office
5001 Southgate Drive
Billings, MT 59101-4669
Re: 4700 (MT010.JB): Scoping Notice for Increased Use of Fertility Control on Wild Horses within the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range

Dear Mr. Sparks and To Whom It May Concern:

Montana BLM has zeroed out six of its seven original wild horse Herd Areas. The only one that still has any wild horses left is the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Refuge, which was established prior to the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFHBA). In fact, Montana BLM has decided to zero out 82% of the original legal acreages that should have been set aside “principally” for the wild horses in the wild. This is a greater percentage of zeroing out than any other Western state. New Mexico comes closest at 77%. Given this initial injustice, it would seem that in the remaining area still home to wild horses, they would be treated much more fairly and given the resources and the Appropriate Management Levels (AML) that would assure their long-term viability. But such has clearly not been the case in the Pryors, where the AML range of 90 to 120 falls far short of the 250 individuals that is recommended for long-term viability in the wild by the IUCN SSC Equid Specialist Group (1992).

So I take this opportunity to thank you for sending me this scoping notice. I have reviewed this and wish to oppose the intensified use of PZP on the Pryor Mountain wild horses. They have been assigned an AML that is non-viable; and the further tampering with and inhibition of their reproduction would make them even more non-viable, especially in view of their long-term future survival, as well as their ecological adaptation to the Pryor Mountain ecosystem.

As a wildlife ecologist who appreciates these animals for the returned North American natives they are, I am particularly concerned that BLM’s repeated semi-sterilization of mares (often resulting in permanent sterilization of the mares) will cause serious social disruption. The logic is this: those mares who fail to achieve pregnancy quickly become disaffected with their band stallions and go off with other stallions in their futile attempts to achieve pregnancy. Similarly the stallions become desperate in their repeated futile attempts to impregnate the mares. This leads to widespread discontent and disruption, both within and between the wild horse bands composing the Pryor Mountain – as any – herd. This results in the serious neglect by adults of their duties to educate the younger members of their bands who are not as inhibited in their breeding as before. These immature individuals attempt to breed prematurely when the social units are in disarray. If intact they would be learning the very important lessons for survival in the demanding Pryor Mountain ecosystem, with its harsh winters, etc. As the effect of PZP wanes and some mares come back into a fertile condition, many give birth out of the normal Spring and early Summer birthing season, even in the late Fall or Winter when cold and storms cause them to greatly suffer and even die, along with their offspring. This is totally opposite the true intent of the WFHBA!

The intensified PZP approach to reducing reproduction in the Pryor Mountain wild horse herd is not the correct policy to adopt. It does not adhere to the core intent of the WFHBA. It is a major step toward domesticating these wild horses and seriously compromises their true wildness and natural adaptiveness. What I am offering in place of this “quick fix drug” approach to preserving, protecting, and managing this cherished herd (and all herds should be cherished) is a major and widely employed branch of the science of wildlife conservation known as Reserve Design. If properly and conscientiously applied, this would: (a) obviate the need to drug the Pryor Mountain mustangs by creating a naturally self-stabilizing horse population that would truly become “an integral part of the natural system of public lands” (preamble of WFHBA); and (b) “achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands” and “at the minimum feasible level” of interference by man. Both of these mandates come directly from Section 3 a of the WFHBA and should be adhered to by authorities of the BLM and USFS, the two agencies charged with fulfilling the act.

To accomplish these goals, you should:
(1) Incorporate the Pryor Mountain’s natural barriers such as the steep cliffs along the eastern side of the refuge that lead down to the Bighorn River. These will limit the expansion of the herd. Where necessary they could be complemented by artificial semi-permeable barriers.

(2) Restore natural horse predators such as the puma and wolf whose effect upon the wild horses would accord with natural selection and produce a more fit and well-adapted population in the Pryor Mountains. It has been a mistake to have puma hunting season reopened in the Pryors, and this should be rescinded in collaboration with Montana’s wildlife department.

(3) Avail yourself of options provided by Section 4 and 6 of the WFHAB in order to secure truly long-term-viable habitat for a truly long-term-viable wild horse population that is not subject to inbreeding and decline. Section 4 allows private landowners whose properties lie adjacent to the Pryor Mountain wild horse refuge to maintain wild, free-roaming horses on their private lands or on land leased from the government provided they protect them from harassment and have not willfully removed or enticed them from public lands. This is an outstanding opportunity for the public to help in preserving and protecting the wild horse herds at healthy population levels, i.e. to complement federal Herd Areas (BLM) and Territories (USFS). Section 6 of the WFHBA authorizes cooperative agreement with landowners and state and local governments to better accomplish the goals of the WFHBA. This allows for providing complete and unimpeded habitat for long-term viable wild horse populations. BLM should invoke Section 6 to establish cooperative agreements with both the National Parks Service (USDI, same as BLM) re: McCullough Peak national monument (which I believe already has such an agreement) and Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, as well as the Custer National Forest (USDA) in order to expand available habitat for the Pryor mustangs. As concerns the Custer National Forest, the USFS officials should not be allowed to get away with the fence they have erected and that restricts the wild horses’ traditional access to summer grazing meadows. This is on the west side of East Pryor Mountain and consists of a two-mile long buck and pole fence. This area was occupied by the wild horses in 1971 and should be a recognized legal area for them, as was documented by Dr. Ron Hall who did his study of the Pryor Mountain wild horses. It is also a prime public viewing area with great scenic visits, as I recall from my visit there in June of 2003. By erecting this fence, Custer National Forest officials defied their mandate to protect and preserve wild horses under the WFHAB; this is subject of an ongoing legal suit. BLM officials must insist this fence be taken down!

(4) Once a complete viable habitat is secured with adequate forage, water, minerals, shelter, wintering and summering habitat components, etc., the Pryor Mountain wild horses should be allowed to fill their ecological niche here and to naturally self-stabilize. This they will do as ecological climax species, as species belonging to the mature ecological sere, if only given the time and the space and the requisite non-interference by man. Thus, the socially and ecologically disruptive roundups will come to a halt; and the wild horses will harmonize with all the unique and fascinating animal and plant community that is found here. Given the opportunity, the wild horses will enhance the Pryor Mountain ecosystem and people will come to appreciate the virtue of a wild-horse-containing ecosystem.
(5) Semi-permeable fences could be constructed along the refuge’s peripheries but only where necessary. Buffer zones around the Pryor Mountain wild horse refuge should be established in order to contain the wild horses and keep them out of harm’s way. Within this buffer zone, mild forms of adverse conditioning techniques could be employed to keep the horses within their refuge. Win-win cooperative agreements with local people whereby they benefit from the wild horses as through giving paid eco-tours, providing lodging and meals, participating in monitoring and protection of the horses, etc., should be stressed. These positive opportunities should be expanded in order to make Reserve Design a success.

I go into greater detail as to how Reserve Design can be successfully applied in my recently published book: The Wild Horse Conspiracy, where I also describe the Pryor Mountain situation. I hope that you can get a copy and read it with an open mind. Look under Reserve Design in the Index. Let me know if you want a copy.

Hoping you will give serious consideration to the points here raised. Anxiously awaiting your response.

Craig Downer

Craig C. Downer
P.O. Box 456
Minden, NV 89423

Craig C. Downer is a wildlife ecologist (UCalifBerk, UNevReno, UKanLawr, UDurhamUK) who has extensively studies both the wild horses of the West and the endagered mountain tapirs of the northern Andes. He has given speeches and written many articles, including encyclopedic, and several books. His works are both popular and scientific, in English, Spanish and translated to German. Several of these concern wild horses, their ecological contribution, their North American evolutionary roots, their great natural and social value and their survival plight. Downer is an Advisory Board member for Protect Mustangs, a member of the World Conservation Union, Species Survival Commission, a Board member of The Cloud Foundation and has written the Action Plan for the mountain tapir (1997). Downer’s current book, “The Wild Horse Conspiracy” points directly to the root cause of the disappearance of America’s wild horses. The book is on sale at Amazon

PZP-22… Do Unintended Side-Effects Outweigh Benefits?

Note: This paper is from 2010. In 2011 Ginger Kathrens decided to support PZP and  fertility control as a member of The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. We bring you Kathrens 2010 paper for education purposes only. Her points against PZP were very good.

Position paper
Ginger Kathrens
Volunteer Executive Director
The Cloud Foundation, Inc.
Natural History Filmmaker
August 10, 2010

The BLM is instigating an aggressive immunocontraceptive campaign designed to suppress the growth rate of wild horse herds in the American West. This initiative is supported by Secretary of the Interior Salazar and has been spear-headed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) who must first give their approval before BLM can administer these experimental drugs to wild horse mares.

Because it renders wild horse mares infertile for roughly 22 months, the drug is called PZP-22. It must be administered, for now, by a hand injection rather than a remotely delivered field dart. The mustang mares must be rounded up to receive the drug. If PZP-22 performs as intended the mare will not conceive, in most cases for 22 months beginning the year after she is given the shot. However, during that roughly two-year period, she will cycle monthly, be bred by her band stallion, or a stallion strong enough to capture and breed her. But, she will not settle, and in another month, she will again come back into estrous.

Then, the cycle of breeding the mare and defending her from other stallions is repeated. This continues month after month through the spring, summer and fall seasons until the days shorten and the estrous cycle stops. In the lengthening days of late winter or early spring, the pattern begins again.

HSUS has stated that the drug will “stabilize” wild horse herd populations and has given the approval for the drug to be used 100% of the time as far as we know. This approval has been given despite the fact that over 75% of wild horse herds are not even large enough to meet the minimum requirements for genetic viability. The minimum population size is generally accepted as 150 to 200 adult animals.

The use of an infertility drug in non-viable herds is cause for alarm, but add in the manipulation of the sex ratios by BLM and the situation is even more troubling. BLM is removing more females than males from nearly every wild herd in the west. The natural 50-50 or so percentage of males to females is being artificially manipulated to 60% males and 40% females. There is one herd in Utah that will be skewed to 70% males versus 30% females. Consider how potentially “destabilizing” this will be. Most wild horses live in family bands where one stallion has one or more mares that he defends and breeds. Mares that are PZPed will be bred, will not settle and will come into heat again in a month. The competition for each and every mare will be more intense because there are far more males than females. If there are small foals they could suffer the consequences of the social disruption due to this intentional meddling with the rules of nature.

Let me give you a case in point. In May, while Makendra Silverman and I were visiting Cloud’s herd in the Pryor Mountains of Montana, a foal was born to the mare, Demure, and her band stallion, Sante Fe (whom you may remember from the most recent Cloud film, Cloud: Challenge of the Stallions). The foal was probably less than an hour old when we spotted her standing with her mother, her father, and her grandmother. The four-some were nestled into a forested ridge about 200 yards away.

As we hiked closer, we noticed that the foal was having trouble walking. One front leg would cross over the other front leg and she would trip herself and crumple to the ground. This happened time after time and she would fall in a heap. Then Sante Fe jerked his head to attention and walked by the brown lump that was his newborn daughter. He had reacted to the sound of another band coming. We lost sight of him through the trees, but could hear the characteristic screams of the stallions and knew there was a ritual greeting taking place. Sante Fe was warning another stallion to stay away. In a little while he returned to stand near his family protectively. We waited, but the filly lay very still and I couldn’t stand to watch any longer. I got up and walked away, convinced she would not live, and too heartsick to watch her die. Incidentally, when we left, we walked in the direction Sante Fe came from and found his old friend Cloud with his family. It was Cloud that Sante Fe had warned to stay away.

By the end of the day, I knew I had to go look for Sante Fe’s band, expecting to find the lifeless body of the little filly. Instead we found her quite alive—crippled to be sure, but alive. Her close-knit family surrounded her. I wished her good luck, realizing that if she could not walk, she might be left behind.

Two weeks later when we returned. The filly was still alive, very near the place where she was born. There had been a lot of rain and the giant puddle in the road was still full of water within 100 feet of where she stood. Luckily, there was no critical reason for the band to move too far as they had adequate water and ample forage. The foal’s legs still hadn’t straightened out, but they were much better. A friend aptly named her Kandu.

By mid-July we were shocked to see her racing past her mother who trotted just to keep up her once crippled daughter. One knee was still bigger than the other, but the tight tendons of her right leg were stretching out and Kandu was finally experiencing the thrill of running. She dashed in circles on the wide, flower-strewn meadows below the scenic Dry Head Overlook in the Custer National Forest. The little filly with the big heart had survived because of her own iron will and the care of a nurturing mother who lived in a stable family band.

Kandu also had another advantage. She was born at the right time of the year when the temperatures were warming, the snow was melting and the long growing season was just beginning. Most hooved wild babies are born in the spring in North America when their environments can provide their mothers with the necessary nutrients to survive and produce enough milk for their newborns. That brings me to another point. It is believed that the one year drug is most likely to produce the best results when given in late winter and early spring, yet the majority of the wild mares receiving the drug are rounded up in the summer and fall. It is likely that the spike in out-of-season births (fall and even winter) we saw in the Pryors to PZPed mares was due to the drug being given at the wrong time of the year. Remember that a round up is necessary to administer the new drug which is PZP-22. This presents a conundrum. If  mares must be rounded up in order to administer the drug by a hand injection, how do you do this safely in late winter or early spring? The answer is, you cannot if the capture method is by helicopter. Mares due to foal or those with tiny foals cannot be stressed with the long runs inherent in helicopter roundups. We saw what happened just recently in Calico and Tuscarora.

Now place Kandu in the environment in which the BLM is creating in other herds. Just consider what her chances might have been in a herd where there was an overabundance of sexually mature males with a small number of mares who were cycling every month. Perhaps she would have been born going into winter. What chance would a crippled foal have in a situation like this? Sante Fe would have been swamped with stallions trying to steal his mares. Anyone who has seenCloud: Challenge of the Stallions knows what it is like when a group of males attacks one band stallion. Kandu would not have been able to run. She could not even walk. She would have had no chance. She might have been trampled or just left to die. Even her parent’s survival chances would have been compromised due to the expenditure of body reserves used up in the competition between stallions for the few mares.

So, when is PZP-22 an acceptable population control device for wild horse herds? Well, first of all you would need to have an over population of wild horses. That rules out at least 75% of the under populated and genetically non-viable herds. That leaves us with the big herds like Twin Peaks in California. The appropriate management level (AML) for the herd is 450 wild horses and a non-viable AML of 74 for burros in an area larger than the state of Rhode Island—1,250 square miles. On this same land, which is a designated wild horse herd area, BLM allows for over 10,000 head of cattle or over 20,000 head of sheep. Now, how’s that for an equitable distribution of the forage on the range? Unfortunately this is the typical split. Welfare livestock get the lion’s share.

Welfare livestock, which outnumber wild horses, in most cases by 10 to 1 and in some cases by as much as 100 to 1, cost American taxpayers hundreds of millions a year, some estimate the total costs at close to a billion dollars a year.

And they cost thousands of predators their lives. These predators, like mountain lions are killed because they might kill a domestic calf or lamb. It is a scientific fact that the big cats have kept the Montgomery Pass Wild Horse Herd in check for nearly 30 years—no roundups, no drugs, no management. In the Pryor Mountains where Cloud lives, the cats kept the herd at zero population growth for four years until the BLM stepped in to encourage the increased killing of the lions. Bottom line, if the goal is the nearly cost-free natural management of wild horse herd areas, mountain lions must be protected so that a nature crafted predator-prey relationship calls the shots—not us humans.

Having said all this, I believe there is a time and a place when PZP could be used if the parameters below were adhered to:

1. The drug can only be remotely delivered at the right time of the year.

2. The herd does not have a skewed sex ratio favoring males.

3. The herd is genetically viable (i.e. at least 200 adult breeding animals).

Meanwhile, here is what I would work on if I were a BLM wild horse manager:

  • Work with the Fish and Game folks to protect the mountain lions
  • Reduce the forage allocated to welfare livestock
  • Open up the fenced off water sources to all wildlife, including wild horses and burros
  • Remove the thousands of miles of fencing that limits the free-roaming behavior of wild horses  and burros
  • Release the healthy wild horses in holding to the millions of acres taken away from them since Congress unanimously passed the Wild Horse and Burro Act.

So often, well intentioned humans can make unwise choices when it comes to the natural world, and this is what I fear is happening with the use of infertility drugs. I hope wild horse advocates, wildlife enthusiasts, humane organizations, public lands extractive users, and the BLM can have substantive, civil discussions on this issue. I look forward to the day when we all might work together to make a better home on the range for our beloved wild horses and burros.

Happy Trails!

Ginger Kathrens

Salazar says he ‘regrets’ threatening to punch Gazette reporter

Cross-posted from The Gazette

Secretary Ken Salazar Public Domain

November 13, 2012 4:22 PM

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said Tuesday he “regrets” threatening to punch a Gazette reporter for asking him last week about problems in the government’s wild horse program.

Salazar visited Fountain on Nov. 6 as part of a tour through Colorado in support of President Obama’s re-election campaign and Gazette reporter Dave Philipps asked him to answer a few questions on video.

Philipps, a prize-winning investigative reporter, had tried to reach Salazar for months through his press secretary to comment on a story Philipps wrote for ProPublica without response. The story detailed how a Colorado man with business connections to Salazar had been sold hundreds of federally protected wild horses despite being a proponent of horse slaughter. The fate of the horses is unknown.

When Philipps began asking Salazar about the program and possible personal ties he had to the wild horse buyer now under investigation, Salazar cut the interview short.

The secretary, dressed in a suit and wearing his signature white cowboy hat, approached Philipps, pushed The Gazette’s video camera out of the way, and got within inches of the reporter’s face.

“Don’t you ever,” Salazar said in a low voice, pointing a finger. “You know what, you do that again… I’ll punch you out.”

After saying he felt he’d been “set up,” Salazar left.

Listen to the audio of the interview here.

“Holding our public officials accountable is one of the cornerstones of our role as journalists,” said The Gazette’s Director of Content Carmen Boles. “We are dismayed that anyone would respond to legitimate questions in such a fashion.”

The Gazette held the audio, hoping that Salazar would agree to a substantive interview concerning  the wild horse program. His press office responded to requests with a simple statement: “The Secretary regrets the exchange.”

The confrontation was made public by the Colorado Springs-based wild horse advocacy group The Cloud Foundation on Monday and quickly spread through major news organizations and social media Tuesday.

Interior Secretary threatens to “punch out” Colorado Springs reporter

Chaos Reigns in Re-elected President’s Cabinet

Wild Horse Foe and Public Bully, Ken Salazar

On Election Day, at an enthusiastic gathering of Obama supporters in Fountain, Colorado; Dave Philips, a reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, had just finished an interview with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar about his controversial policies for managing America’s wild horse populations. Just after Secretary Salazar answered final questions about the future safety of wild horses and he turned to leave the interview, he unexpectedly approached Phillips and told him, “If you set me up like this again, I’ll punch you out.”  Standing nearby was Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation, a Colorado-based wild horse advocacy organization. “I was stunned by the Secretary’s rude and clearly hostile comment toward Dave,” said Kathrens.

Kathrens, who had had been granted permission by an Interior law enforcement official to take pictures at the rally added, “ Salazar walked past me, refused to shake my hand, and told me, ‘You know, you should never do that.” It was unclear to Kathrens what he meant. “These threats would have been inappropriate coming from anyone, but the fact that it came out of the mouth of the Secretary of the Interior is alarming,” stated Kathrens. “I can’t believe that a top official in Obama’s cabinet could be so defensive.”

Phillips’ interview with Salazar was a follow-up to a story he had written in September about the sale of wild horses to Tom Davis, a Colorado killer buyer who purchased over 1,700 wild horses from government holding facilities. The horses ended up in south Texas and it is believed they were trucked over the border to Mexican slaughterhouses. Secretary Salazar acknowledged that an investigation of Davis’ activities is currently underway.

Salazar’s anti-wild horse stance came to light in 2004 during his successful run for the U.S. Senate. After a town hall meeting in Greeley, Colorado, wild horse advocate Barbara Flores asked him what he thought about our wild horses. Candidate Salazar responded, “They don’t belong on public lands.” Salazar vacated his Senate seat in 2008 to take his current position as Secretary of the Interior

The BLM removes far more horses from their legally designated home ranges than can be adopted out to the public. The massive roundups have resulted in the stockpiling of animals in government facilities and privately contracted ranches. Nearly twice as many wild horses are housed in these costly holding operations than currently roam free, leaving most wild herds under populated and vulnerable to inbreeding and die-off due to a lack of genetic diversity.

“You know, this isn’t just about wild horses,” explains Kathrens. “America needs leaders in Washington, and the President needs cabinet members who respect citizens, respect the laws, value discussion and working toward mutual solutions. Ken Salazar displayed none of this on Tuesday.”

Call the White House at 202-456-1111 and ask for special interest Cattle Baron and wild horse foe Ken Salazar to be removed from office, TODAY!!

Stop the Roundups Rally in Sacramento July 10th at 2 pm outside the Federal Courthouse

Come to the rally to show that you care about the wild horses and burros in America.

Terri Farley speaks at the Rally to Stop the Roundups (Photo © Anne Novak.)

The Sacramento Stop the Roundups Rally and Press Conference is at 2 p.m. July 10th on the sidewalk outside the Federal Courthouse across from the Amtrak station. ( 501 ” I ” Street at the 5th Street intersection in Sacramento, CA 95814)

Here is a list of speakers:

Carla Bowers, National Wild Horse Advocate

Tina Brodrick, Owner of Sonny Boys Tours

Craig Downer, Wildlife Biologist and acclaimed Wild Horse and Burro Expert

Terri Farley, Award winning writer and beloved author of The Phantom Stallion series

Cat Kindsfather, Award winning wild horse photographer

Marilyn Kroplick, MD, Board President for In Defense of Animals

Simone Netherlands, President of Respect for Horses

Anne Novak, Executive Director of Protect Mustangs

Jetara Séhart, Executive Director of Native Wild Horse Protection & Marin Mustangs

Robin Warren  (Wild Mustang Robin), Director of The Youth Campaign for Protect Mustangs

Bring homemade signs and your friends. It will be hot so bring a rain umbrella for shade and plenty of water. Protect Mustangs encourages members of the public to carpool or take Amtrak to save on fuel and reduce pollution. Oil and gas extraction–on public land–is one of the main reasons wild horses are being wiped off their home on the range.  Be part of the solution and take the train if you can.

The voiceless wild horses and burros need your help after the rally too. Give oral or written comment against helicopter roundups and attend the 6:30 pm BLM Wild Horse & Burro Helicopter/Vehicle Use Public Hearing for roundups and management. The meeting runs from 6:30-8:30 PM at the Woodlake Hotel (formerly the Radisson near Arden Fair Mall) 500 Leisure Lane in Sacramento.

“Like” and check for updates on our Facebook page:

Join the dynamic conversation on Facebook about helicopter roundups:

Driving directions from the rally to the meeting:

Driving directions to 500 Leisure Ln, Sacramento, CA 95815
501 I St
Sacramento, CA 95814
1. Head north on 5th St toward H St
194 ft
2. 5th St turns right and becomes H St
0.8 mi
3. Turn left onto CA-160 N/16th St

Continue to follow CA-160 N
2.3 mi
4. Take exit 47A for Leisure Ln towardCanterbury Rd
0.1 mi
5. Keep left at the fork, follow signs forLeisure
79 ft
6. Turn left onto Leisure Ln

Destination will be on the right
354 ft
500 Leisure Ln
Sacramento, CA 95815

Special thanks to Jetara Séhart, Executive Director of Native Wild Horse Protection & Marin Mustangs for her help to put together this event.

If you have any questions or would like to speak at the rally feel free to send us an email at